Storm Study

Storm Study – Pencil, Watercolor – 8 x 8 inches.

It wasn’t long ago when small green shapes, like soft blades, slowly poked up out of the dirt and last autumn’s leaves, the color of rusted iron. Then stems and yellow petals. Red, blue, golden too, and purple. It felt like months of winter here in the hills were beginning to blossom into spring. Almost. Then one afternoon our green world turned back into white.

The tulips and daffodils don’t seem to mind. Nor do the Sparrows, Finches, and Western Bluebirds. (Shh, I don’t mind either. Shh, it’s heretical to say this in California, but I don’t want to let go of the snow’s cold embrace.)

The Seventh Storm of Winter

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here
to bless the falling snow.

Let it bury us and all our cares and pains, and bury
every one of our wishes and preoccupations, especially
the ones we think are most important.

Let it, which neither scorns nor loves, but falls
on all our lives with the same indifferent silence,
bury our pasts and bury every one of our dreams as well.

We pray you, blessed snow, to leave bare spots
beneath the apple trees for winter birds to peck for
seeds, but otherwise, please blanket our incessant

human chatter beneath the frigid benediction of your
whiteness so we can pull up the covers of our beds
and burrow even deeper into sleep like hibernating bats

and bears and not emerge until the ides of March, or April,
or maybe not until the ides of May.

(There you have it, friends: Shh, I hope my secret thoughts are safe with you.)

A Taste of Summer

A Taste of Summer (from a sketchbook) – Pencil, ink, watercolor – 8.5 x 11 inches.

A famous song begins with the following lines:

“Just about a year ago
I set out on the road
Seekin’ my fame and fortune
Lookin’ for a pot of gold
Things got bad and things got worse
I guess you’ll know the tune. . .”

I’m guessing that even though you may have forgotten the first six lines of the tune, you will not have forgotten the last:

“Oh Lord, stuck in Lodi again.”

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1969 song made Lodi, California feel to me like one of the circles of Hell. But there are worse places in this world to be stuck in: Spokane, Washington, Broma, Sweden, and just about anywhere in Texas come immediately to mind.

At least Lodi has some excellent wineries, especially if you fancy bold reds. This watercolor shows the tasting room of one of them. At first sight it felt dark and imposing, but it’s dramatic and I thought it showed an imaginative use of space. I didn’t paint it to advertise the winery or the city; it just happened to appear during the travels of some friends spending a beautiful day in the pleasant company of Dionysus.

That was a while ago. Today, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, it’s the middle of March, the middle of Lent, and many of us feel stuck. We may be finished with Winter, but Winter has not finished with us. Rain and snow are predicted to visit us, yet again, by the end of the week.

So as an act of public service, here’s an image of a sunny afternoon in June that just happened to be in Lodi. Yes, Summer will arrive, no matter where we happen to feel stuck.

A World of Wednesdays

A World of Wednesdays – Watercolor – 8.5 x 12 inches.

When I was a girl in school, in the country we used to live in,
I loved Wednesdays because our classes lasted only until noon.
You and I ignored the playground and spent those afternoons at
play in green forests along the river. Years passed and then we
played in bedrooms in our own white worlds of linen sheets.

Now you live oceans away on the other side of the world. Is every
day there in your country warm and green? Here the days are
white, and the only river, miles away, has flowed under ice since
December. Months disappear and petals from a Christmas plant
wrinkle and fall in silence, like snow on Wednesday afternoons.