Posts Tagged ‘Beavers Bend State Park’

Leaving

November 12, 2018

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Hickory Hill Cabin, Beaver’s Bend Resort–a Comfortable 4-Day Respite

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. . . but now I’m a big seacaptain again, lookout–that is, faroff eyes in the gray morning . . . 

Jack Kerouac, Visions of Cody

Wrapped in a 36-degree gray rainy Monday morning, I’m fortunate to be in this warm, cozy cabin with my friends. Check out isn’t until 11:00, and we’re all agreed that when the cabin is paid for, and the weather outside is uncomfortable, we may as well postpone the 3 1/2 hour drive home till we are forced to leave. What I enjoy most about my friends is their love of quiet space and time with books and leisure. As I write this, we are scattered about the cabin with our thoughts and pleasant sentiments. I am enjoying Kerouac’s Visions of Cody, a book he worked on while creating On the Road, but Wow! what a different kind of book! On the Road has been described as a horizontal narrative of life on the road, with the narrator (Kerouac) recording his bemused observations of his hero Neal Cassady. Visions of Cody is described as a more vertical, metaphysical exploration of the same heroic character Neal Cassady. I am enjoying this second book much more, because of its stream-of-consciousness presentation, much of it reminding me of the writings of Joyce or Proust.

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Patio Fireplace

Yesterday, we decided we needed to burn up all the firewood that was delivered for our four-day stay at the cabin. There was still a considerable stack remaining. So, beginning around 11:00, we started the fire and it burned all day as we continued to add logs, finally leaving it for good around 5:00. Throughout the day, we enjoyed its warmth as the winds poked around the perimeter of the patio, and temperatures hovered around 31 degrees. The coffee seemed to taste better, the books tended to read with more intimacy, and when I finally felt ready to doze in my chair from all the reading, I decided instead to work on a second Jack Kerouac collage on the picnic table.

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Kerouac Collage at Patio Fireside

Since I was outdoors, I felt freer to spatter colored inks with a toothbrush and experiment with torn papers. That, along with sketching, made the experience enjoyable. On my second night in the cabin I worked on a different Kerouac collage. While reading Visions of Cody on this trip, I have felt the tug to experiment more with this medium.

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Kerouac Collage on the Second Night

I was notified on my smart phone that Amazon has delivered my package–a volume on Homeric Greek. I had purchased the grammar twenty years ago, and it somehow got away from me. So, I finally ordered a replacement. I always liked using this book when probing Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Homeric Greek doesn’t come easy for me, but thanks to my learning Koinē Greek, I can manage it with a little work. As we prepare to leave this wonderful retreat and transition into the holidays, I feel a sense of leaning forward into an epic adventure. I love Thanksgiving and Christmas, and already anticipate good things on the road ahead.

What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to explore.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

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Thoughts in the Winter Night

November 11, 2018

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The symmetry of form attainable in pure fiction cannot so readily be achieved in a narration essentially having less to do with fable than with fact. Truth uncompromisingly told will always have its ragged edges; hence the conclusion of such a narration is apt to be less finished than an architectural finial.

Herman Melville, Billy Budd

Oklahoma temperatures are dipping near the freezing point as I sit up and write this. My friends have retired to bed, and the cabin is still. The outdoor patio fireplace is providing more than enough warmth as the fire continues to burn brightly. While the hours extended into the cold night, I finished reading Billy Budd, and our conversation drifted to reasons why we all love to read when we can find the leisure (and all of us being retired are now very grateful for those more frequent moments that we can spend poring over the printed word).

In the heat of our conversation I tried to express something that I have probably tried to express at least once in the history of my blog entries. And I don’t feel that I successfully nailed what I was trying to say. Now that I am alone and still not yet sleepy, I thought I would power up the laptop and see if I could find a more accurate way to express what is on my mind.

Since the age of eighteen, while in college, I have been in quest of the Oracle. I have always sought a Word of guidance, some kind of navigational aid, a pole star if you will. In my college days, I was poring over the Bible daily, a practice that would land me eventually in the Protestant pastoral ministry. Believing that the Bible was the Word of God, divinely inspired, I approached it daily, prayerfully, seeking a divine Word to direct my path. I was very seldom disappointed. If I stayed with it long enough, patiently, some Word would come, and I would write fervently, seeking to clarify what it was I needed to do in my life.

About twelve years later, I left the ministry, but did not leave the conviction that a Word was always available for anyone who sought it. The only thing that changed was the medium; I came to believe that revelation was everywhere, in great literature, in philosophical treatises, in comic strips, in conversation, in walks through the woods, in modes of semi-sleep. I believe passionately that a Word is always available to anyone who seeks to hear and understand.

In my days of theological study, I was always captivated by the idea uttered by Swiss theologian Karl Barth. He argued that through the act of preaching, the Bible had the potential to become the Word of God. When I was a pastor, I worked in conservative circles, and my colleagues continually raged against those words, arguing that the Bible is the Word of God. I felt then that they were not really listening to what this theologian was saying. What I came to believe Barth was proclaiming is this: the words of the Bible become the Word when the listener genuinely connects with the message. There are so many interpretations  concerning how exactly this phenomenon occurs. The moving of God’s spirit on the listener, the openness of the listener, the spiritual preparation of the preacher, etc. The point that interested me was this: the event of words becoming a Word for the listener is an occasional one. A reader can read thousands of words and nothing significant happens. A listener can listen to an hour of preaching and nothing happens. Words fill the space, but no defining Word occurs.

In my senior years, my views on this have not changed. I am aware that I can read pages and pages of text with no significant encounter. I can write pages in my journal and find no significant truth flowing out of my pen. I can listen to hours of discourse on the television or on YouTube and not feel strangely moved. But it is accurate to say that seldom if ever does a complete day unfold without my being touched by a jolting Word that stops me in my tracks, holds my attention, and convinces me that I have been quickened by a higher truth. Revelation has occurred. Enlightenment has dawned. I consider this a gift; I cannot make it happen. I cannot create the encounter that I so richly seek. I can only trim my sails in an effort to catch the wind once it blows.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Quiet

November 10, 2018

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And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward, But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to our Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward. you.

Gospel of Matthew 6: 5-6

You think Gottlieb isn’t religious, Hinkley. Why, his just being in a lab is a prayer.

Sinclair Lewis, Arrowsmith

Beaver’s Bend State Park is overrun this weekend with a Folk Festival. Fortunately, we reserved a cabin months ago outside the park, so we’re surrounded with space and quiet. I’ve been reading almost daily from the Sermon on the Mount, and this morning was struck by the passage posted above. My conception of prayerfulness is not the one I held in my earlier church attendance days. Rather, I feel it is a state of mind that I know when I am alone reading or making art. When I read the statement above about hypocrisy and praying in public, I felt like I had been called out for my blogging preferences. I spend mornings in quiet devotion, reading books, making art, writing in a journal, and then post pictures of my morning, and now wonder if I am praying on street corners. I am just trying to let others in on my practices that mean a great deal to me. And I am trying to encourage anyone who is going through a low moment in life to consider retreating into solitude with good books, good thoughts and good views.

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It is 38 degrees outside and I continually bundle up to spend some moments at the easel–then dash back inside to coffee and  books and journal and warm conversations with friends.

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The painting isn’t turning out the way I intended. But as I’ve said before, I am absolutely thrilled to the core while painting, even if I don’t like the result. Making art takes me to another world and contributes to what I feel is a prayerful life. I enjoyed reading Sinclair Lewis’s Arrowsmith, especially when the young medical student held up Professor Gottlieb as an example of a pious man, though religiously unaffiliated. The professor’s activity in the lab seemed an act of religious devotion. This is how I feel when I engage in the arts.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Retreat

November 8, 2018

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Deep sigh . . . I have arrived.

I am not complaining about the level of industry I’ve sustained over the past months–truly, I love what I do, and am glad to be semi-retired so I have time to do it. But I have only so much physical energy, and know what it means to need a rest. And I need a rest. The Darrs, whom I love deeply, included me in their plans for this escape months ago, and the timing could not be better. I drove three-and-a-half hours today to get to this location, and it has been four years since my last stay here, but I believe it will be more than worth the wait.

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Four Years Ago

Tomorrow, I’ll find out if the fishing is still as good as it was then.  In that day, my fly rod got a workout as I fished a beautiful stretch of trout waters beneath a towering bluff. And today, while making the journey here,  I was ecstatic to see the fall colors peaking in this territory. In fact, I was so excited at the fall foliage that I dialed up Hobby Lobby on GPS and discovered there was one three miles ahead, just off the Interstate. I dashed in and scored a couple of full sheets of watercolor paper and a handful of stretchers. So I’m all set for plein air.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to explore.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

A Weekend of Needed Restoration

September 15, 2013
An Evening of Fly Fishing at Beavers Bend State Park, Broken Bow, Oklahoma

An Evening of Fly Fishing at Beavers Bend State Park, Broken Bow, Oklahoma

A hobby is a defiance of the contemporary.  It is an assertion of those permanent values which the momentary eddies of social evolution have contravened or overlooked.  If this is true, then we may also say that every hobbyist is inherently a radical, and that his tribe is inherently a minority.

Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Arlington, Texas never looked better to me, as I viewed it from my rearview mirror last Friday afternoon.  The week in school was crushing, and as I looked at my calendar, I saw no relief in sight.  So, I loaded the Jeep and set out for Broken Bow, Oklahoma, a three-and-one-half hour drive, with a mind full of good memories of conversations with eager students, and a heart that lightened with every mile left behind.  I checked into my hotel in Idabel, Oklahoma, road-weary but hopeful for the coming day.

Saturday morning found me in a trout stream in Beavers Bend State Park.  It felt good to wade cold waters on a 65-degree morning (Texas temperatures since July have been the worst kind of hell).  I felt the calm, serene happiness of Nick in Hemingway’s “Big Two-Hearted River,” even though I could not raise a single trout throughout the morning.  I stopped for lunch and a refresher back at the hotel, watched a little TV (didn’t mind watching Johnny Football take it on the chin–being a schoolteacher, he reminds me of too many privileged students I’d just as soon forget), then re-packed and returned to the stream about 4:30 in the afternoon.

The gorge I chose this time was cut so deep that shadows were already falling across the waters, and the signt of flyfishermen beneath the overlooking cliffs made me wonder whether I wanted to paint or fly fish.  I took pictures, and decided to paint later.  Entering the stream, I tried everything the fly shop recommended–lead sinkers, yellow bobbers, an assortment of nymphs, and nothing worked.  Finally I returned to about the only thing I know how to do:  I tied a size 18 elk-haired caddis on, soaked it in floatant, and then tied 18″ of 5x leader off the hook and attached a size 20 red midge to use as a dropper.  Success.  Four rainbow trout, up to 14″, struck within thirty minutes, and I felt that everything I had wanted to happen on this weekend vacation happened.

14" rainbow trout in the net

14″ rainbow trout in the net

A second rainbow . . .

A second rainbow . . .

. . . a third rainbow . . .

. . . and a fourth rainbow to round out the evening

. . . and a fourth rainbow to round out the evening

They were all beautiful, beyond description, as I raised the net and let the late afternoon sun fall across their forms and beheld a dazzling spectrum of colors.  Trout colors overwhelm my eye.  I released them all, happily.  I love watching trout swim away to their freedom.  Once I caught and released the fourth one, I was exhausted.  I struggled to the bank, sat awhile, took more photographs of the surrounding fly fishermen, then found my way to a rural diner for a late dinner, then back to the hotel.

Today I’m home, rested and grateful for the weekend.  I have attempted an 8 x 10″ watercolor of the lovely place where I landed the trout.  I even tried to put a solitary fly fisherman down below in the shadows, to stress how dimutive we feel when we’re enveloped with the grandeur of this stream.

Fly Fishing Beneath the Gathering Twilight

Fly Fishing Beneath the Gathering Twilight

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.