Posts Tagged ‘Oregon’

Quiet Morning Splendor

July 10, 2015
Morning Light in my Sanctuary

Morning Light in my Sanctuary

We must reserve a little back-shop,all our own, entirely free, wherein to establish our true liberty and principal retreat and solitude.


The coffee seems to taste better than usual, morning light is flooding my study, in the background Enya sings “Caribbean Blue,” bringing back soulful memories of the Oregon coast twenty-three summers ago, when I was studying Emerson, Thoreau and Fuller’s writings. I’m filled with rapture, having this quiet space after such a busy flurry of recent weeks. In my reading, I came across the following childhood memories recorded by Bernard Berenson:

In childhood and boyhood this ecstasy overtook me when I was happy out of doors. Was I five or six? Certainly not seven. It was a morning in early summer. A silver haze shimmered and trembled over the lime trees. The air was laden with their fragrance. The temperature was like a caress. I remember–I need not recall–that I climbed up a tree stump and felt suddenly immersed in Itness. I did not call it by that name. I had no need for words. It and I were one.

I know that experience intimately. Being the oldest among my siblings, I know I was five, because my brother was barely one when we lived in a house near Byrnes Mill in rural House Springs, Missouri. There was no neighborhood. Dad was at work. Mom had to take care of the baby and clean house. I spent much time outdoors. I still remember the coolness of the winds (must have been Spring or Fall) and the noise they made when they ruffled the fringes of the Davy Crockett buckskin jacket I wore. I made up episodes as I wandered the garden, the yard, and even ventured beyond the fence to visit a cow resting in someone’s distant pasture. I couldn’t get to her because I came across a deep gorge filled with fallen trees. By then, she was standing anyway, so I would have been too intimidated to approach her. But I still remember a stirring Presence, and the notion that I was not alone. And that Presence was much more real than the imaginary cowboys who rode with me, or the Indians who fought me. I still remember lying on my back and staring into those rich cumulonimbus clouds towering above, wondering what lingered behind them, gazing down on me, aware of everything I was doing. This has to be among my richest of childhood memories.

By the time I got into public school, having never lived in a neighborhood filled with children, I did not really know how to relate to my classmates. That got a little better as I grew up, but not much. I spent most of my growing up keeping to myself, and in that solitude I experimented with art and finally developed a love for reading. Little doubt these are reasons for my finding such deep contentment with quiet mornings such as this.

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.

The Affirming Embrace of a Saturday Morning

July 26, 2014
Coffee: the Perfect Companion in the Art Studio

Coffee: the Perfect Companion in the Art Studio

For I have known them all already, known them all:–

Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

T. S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

July 26, 1992 marks one of the more perfect days of my earthly odyssey, especially when I measure out my life with coffee spoons.  That historic day was spent in Oregon, as I neared the finish of a blissful five-week seminar on the writings of Emerson, Thoreau and Margaret Fuller. To mark today’s anniversary, I’ve decided to begin with a cup of Hood River Coffee.  I ordered the beans from that company in Portland, Oregon, and was pleased to receive them on my doorstep yesterday.  This is only the second time in twenty-two years that I have ordered from them, but believe I’ll make a practice of it from here on out.  And today I will let the memories of Oregon, the mountains, the tall trees, the Pacific coast and the writings of those three bards flood my soul while I work on watercolor, read, scribble in the journal, and know from the heart the gratitude of feeling fully alive.

More later . . . thanks for reading.  It’s a beautiful Saturday in Texas.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not really alone.


Memories Arriving in Layers, Like Waves

July 19, 2014
Relaxing on the Oregon Coast among the Rocks

Relaxing on the Oregon Coast among the Rocks, July 26, 1992

The ocean is the ultimate earth mother,I mean the constant change of the tides, its relation to the moon, the sound of it rolling back and forth—it’s almost too beautiful.  And I regard being on the water during the summer as my substitute for a Parisian café, and I can sit there by the hour.  It is certainly not profound, but it’s—I enjoy it.  All artists are voyeurs, not people of action.

Robert Motherwell (interview)

Sleep did not come easily last night.  My mind continually drifted over what I had been reading in Moby Dick.  Decades ago, I scoffed that I had probably been a whaler in a former life.  The legend of Moby Dick has always resonated with me, as have thoughts about life in nineteenth-century New England, though I have never even been to the coast in that region; Concord, Massachusetts is as close as I ever got.  

When I awoke this morning, my first thoughts recalled a 1990 summer afternoon in rural Waxahachie, Texas, when I gazed across a vast field bathed in the golden glow of the afternoon sun.  I was spending the day at an annual Renaissance Festival, Scarborough Faire, and as my mind drifted, I heard the voice of a storyteller entertaining an audience of children with a seafaring tale.  He was shouting in the dialect that I was reading in those days from Herman Melville short stories, and recalling that sound today makes me think of the settings in New Bedford and Nantucket.  I felt on that afternoon in 1990 that I was being transported far back to another era, another space, and the undulating meadow before me was turning into a rolling ocean.

Growing up in the Midwest, I never even saw an ocean until I was thirty-eight years old, in 1992.  I landed in the Pacific Northwest for a five-week study in New England Transcendentalism at Oregon State University.  My plane touched down in Portland, and my rental car took me westward to the coast for that first look at the vast, sprawling Pacific.  Above, I have posted a photo taken of me on Sunday, July 26, as I relaxed for a day on the coast, reading from Emerson and Thoreau, and listening to the thunder of the tides crashing against the cliffs that enclosed me.

Throughout this Saturday, I have not shaken off these deep feelings induced by Melville and personal memories.  I pulled my volumes of journals and read all my handwritten entries from that month spent in Oregon, as well as the dawn I sat on the beach in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, six years later, translating The Iliad and reading from Thoreau’s Walden.  Today has been a day of ocean memories, and I have gladly been enveloped by an ocean of space and time–no appointments, no agenda–just reading, reflecting, recalling.

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.



Musings over Morning Coffee

January 22, 2013

Old Judge Coffee cropped

Coffee Musings

Within the ramshackle Missouri farmhouse, an aged, graying man stretched in his chair next to the smoking, wood-burning stove.  Squinting out the window into the first rays of a piercing sunrise, he watched as the shafts of winter light lanced the mists that played across the broad gray surface of the Mississippi River.  Neelys Landing was still sleeping, but the man continued to watch for the town’s first waking sights.  As the sunlight glanced off the curvature of his celadon green Fire King mug, he slowly and delicately sipped the Old Judge Coffee brew, delighting in the hot moist aroma that caressed his weathered cheeks.  What was so familiar about that smell?  Of course!  Mount Hood Coffee.  The aroma-induced recollection brought the pleasant shock of recognition, suddenly sweeping him back forty years, and away seventeen hundred miles, to an Oregon morning walk that marked the turning point of his life.  Suddenly, neither the time or the distance was significant.  Everything was rolling up to the shores of his consciousness, like the surging tides of the Pacific Northwest . . .