Waiting for the Sky to Darken


Reading at dawn on the deck

In proportion to his force, the artist will find in his work an outlet for his proper character.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Art”

Good day, fellow blog readers/friends. It’s been a long stretch since I last posted something on this page. I’m completing the most amazing summer vacation I’ve ever experienced, and still growing accustomed to the retired life. I’m spending my last day in my home town of High Ridge, Missouri, waiting for the solar eclipse. My parents live in the seventy-mile wide “path of totality”, so I’ll be fortunate to view it from the back deck, atop a neighborhood hill, with no trees blocking my view of the sky.

No, I will not be taking or posting photos; I’m not a real photographer, did not purchase proper equipment, but at least secured the right kind of glasses.  The event is still two hours away, so I have decided to try and post a blog with meaning.  My Jeep is packed, and I’ll give traffic a few hours to clear the freeways before driving back to Texas in the real darkness of night.

Texas Wesleyan University opened today with the first day of classes.  The university was kind to me when learning that I would miss my first day, being 660 miles away to view this phenomenon.  On Wednesday I will deliver my inaugural lectures, my second scheduled day of classes.


draw 2

I am deeply happy to say I believe I found my real self in Colorado this year during my extended stay.  I did not generate the same quantity of art that I did on my previous year’s visit, and I didn’t even fly fish with the same intense frequency.  But still, I found a quality in living that I haven’t known consistently for many, many years. And when I did take time out to sketch or paint, I felt a deeper sense of contentment. Above, I have posted a couple of sketchbook pages of my drawings and journal musings while sitting on the deck of my rented Rainbow Cabin at Riverbend Resort in South Fork, Colorado



With only a few days left before departing Colorado, I finally took a shot at watercoloring en plein air this massive boulder positioned between my deck and the South Fork of the Rio Grande. I didn’t finish the work, but at least I enjoyed working on it as my Colorado experience drew to its close.


A beautiful brown trout


Big Meadow Lake, early in the morning (where I caught the brown trout)


Rainbow trout caught out of South Fork


Sam the “camp cat” asleep in my lap

Today is also the first day of school for Martin High School, where I retired from my 28-year teaching career June 3.  Last week the teachers returned for a week of Inservice meetings.  Over the past years, I wondered if I would feel rudderless when this moment arrived.  I don’t.  When I enter the lecture room at Texas Wesleyan University Wednesday, I have only one hope–that I will still have the energy and enthusiasm that I felt ebbing away the last several years of my teaching tenure.  I earnestly hope that I can recover that; the students and university deserve it.  And I want to give it.

I look forward earnestly to my return to the studio, as my art has laid dormant for weeks now, though my mind has surged daily with ideas and my imagination continues to crank out compositional opportunities. I guess I’ll find out soon enough if I still possess that energy.

The summer has been magnificent, I feel rested, and I’m happy beyond words to be retired. I’m looking forward to witnessing my first solar eclipse; I was unaware and lacked curiosity when it last came in 1979. This path has not crossed the St. Louis region since July 7, 1442, and will not pass this way again until 2505. I planned this visit since summer 2016 when I read Annie Dillard’s account of the 1979 eclipse in her book Teaching a Stone to Talk. I was numbed by her account, and determined on that day that I would not miss the next one.

Thanks for reading.

4 Responses to “Waiting for the Sky to Darken”

  1. Dian Says:

    Love this post! Enjoyed our Colorado visit so much! We didn’t have to fish- or go on journeys- just “being” became so fulfilling. All the rest was fun- but not the most important part of our stay. Soak in the magnificence of the eclipse. We have our glasses to observe the partial one!


  2. Lisa Gordon Says:

    What a wonderfully uplifting post!
    I am glad you had such a wonderful summer, and I wish you all the very best in your teaching at Texas Wesleyan.


    • davidtripp Says:

      Thank you, Lisa. The summer was spectacular and enriching, and I am now having the time of my life in the Texas Wesleyan classroom. Thank you for writing, and I hope things are well with you!


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