On the Pulse of the Morning

In the Man Cave with Winslow Homer

Here on the pulse of this new day

You may have the grace to look up and out

And into your sister’s eyes,

And into your brother’s face,

Your country,

And say simply

Very simply

With hope—

Good morning.

Maya Angelou, “On the Pulse of Morning,” (Read by the poet at the Inauguration of William Jefferson Clinton 20 January 1993)

I thought it appropriate to open Daylight Saving time with these immortal words, remembering how I shivered the morning I listened to May Angelou deliver this poem.  My body clock, of course, is not adjusted to this.  Retiring to bed around 2:00 this morning, I awoke without an alarm at 7:58, feeling that it was actually 6:58, but got up anyway.  The Man Cave is chilly, requiring a heavy sweater and plenty of coffee, but I like the lighting now, and I am immersed in Winslow Homer watercolors of fishing subjects.  He was an avid fly fisherman and I love his watercolor renderings.  I have decided to pursue some fishing compositions, and have gotten some encouragement from a friend on this.

This morning, I am using two of Homer’s watercolors as a reference, still trying to find my own sense of vision and composition (yesterday I quoted Proust, speaking of one who wrote with a “watercolor touch”.  I’m seeking a watercolor touch in painting as well as writing, still).  I am looking at two Homer compositions, one of a boy whittling, and I’ve chosen to put a cane pole in his hand instead.  The other is a young boy and girl standing in the sunlight, fishing.  Hopefully, I’ll have enough completed on this pair of 8 x 10″ sketches to post for any of you interested in looking.

The reading has been delicious up to this point.  In addition to reading Maya Angelou’s poem in its entirety, I have continued what I began late last night–Ernest Hemingway’s “Big Two-Hearted River.”  Knowing what I know of Hemingway’s life when he wrote that short story, I find these words particularly striking:

He felt he had left everything behind, the need for thinking, the need to write, other needs.  It was all back of him.

There have been several moments like that in my own personal odyssey.  I take comfort in reading these thoughts from another’s hand.  I have always believed that Henry David Thoreau moved to Walden Pond to clear out all the cobwebs and debris in the duct work of his consciousness–a Harvard degree that did not translate into a job, a school teacher stint that didn’t work out, whispers about his accident in the woods that burned off 300 acres of prime Massachusetts forest, and the general sentiment of those around him that he was an idler.  I am convinced that moving to Walden Pond allowed him to flush out all that negative debris so that epiphany could take place.  I read those same sentiments into the mindset of Nick Adams as he backpacks along the road, leaving the remnants of a burned-out town behind him, heading to the river.  He is moving toward epiphany.

It has been a few years since I read the texts of two of my treasured volumes on Winslow Homer: Watercolors by Winslow Homer: the Color of Light and Winslow Homer: Artist and Angler.  I took them off the shelf this morning, and have spent this entire first part of the day immersed in them, along with Hemingway and Angelou (oh, and also the voice of Garrison Keillor on cassette–a real American treasure with wonderful homespun stories!).

I guess that’s about all for now.  The Man Cave is providing nice support for what I’m trying to do.  More later, I hope.

Thanks for reading.

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