We spent a portion of our summer holiday in Door County, Wisconsin exploring artist's galleries. Outside the Juddville Clay Contemporary Studio Gallery where artists Tony Staroska and Rebecca Carlton display their creations, we were shown this sculpture. My photo doesn't do it justice. As I examined the sculpture from different angles, it felt like a piece I wouldn't want to keep in either my house or garden. It's sudden impact is too unsettling, too disturbing.
But it does provoke a response, doesn't it? The skeletal fetal form, backbone of rebar, clutching hand and iron fist. I wish I could see it at dusk with a candle placed inside its hollow body and light filling the empty spaces. There is hope in the presence of light, and I long to give this man and all of his kind a glimmer of hope.
Art, in my amateur opinion, is often something one feels first and thinks about later; it is evocative, visceral. It isn't divorced from intellect, it just isn't dependent on it. And art begets art. I already have a short story half-formed in my mind with this figure at the crux. Thisis the kind of sculpture I would visit over and over again in a museum. Why isn't it in a museum? Who would have thought despair could look so distressingly beautiful?
Interestingly, next to the man in despair, on the front lawn of the studio gallery was a rock fountain. Placed among the rocks were dozens of small heart-shaped stones. Rebecca, a warm, charming and chatty woman explained to me that when she and her husband, Tony, met they discovered that they had something more in common than their love of art: they both collected heart-shaped stones.
There is hope in love, too. Whether it was intentional or not, the juxtaposition between the sculpture of despair and fountain of hope was deeply moving.
I blame it on my husband. He started it all by buying me an iphone and dragging me into the 21st century. I couldn't sleep my first night of ownership, overwhelmed by all of the technology I was going to have to learn to make the purchase worthwhile. I've always quipped that I wasn't smart enough to use a smartphone. Turns out I know more than I realized, and I've left the stress behind as I learn to navigate the apps. Yeah baby. I'm feeling my oats.
See what I mean? That's not how I talk. It's my husband's fault for buying that iphone.
I went to get my shoulder-length hair trimmed last Saturday and came home with it all chopped off. With my new iphone in my purse, suddenly, I was feeling like a modern woman. I have never worn short hair before, not even as a child, and now I have a pixie. When I went to change my bitmoji profile there wasn't a hair-length equivalent. I'm not losing sleep as I did with the iphone, but I have mixed emotions over the change, a moment of shock each time I glance in the mirror. The daily wash and dry routine is exceptional, but I've never been adept at styling or the use of mousse, gel and hairspray. Is there an app for that? Needless to say, my new do only remotely resembles Emma Thompson's in the photo that I showed my hairdresser.
The long and short of it is that I have decided to grow my hair out to look like my bitmoji, rather than the other way round.
It has been over twelve years since I have ridden my bike. I was all set to sell it in my recent garage sale, but when my husband brought it up from the basement he persuaded me to keep it. He hung it in the garage beside his so that it would be easier to fetch. We had some lovely, cool and breezy days last weekend, so on Saturday afternoon we decided to take a ride on the Prairie Path.
Remember, it has been at least a dozen years since I have pedaled anywhere, and I felt a bit wobbly; I wasn't sure, at first, if I would even make it out of the neighborhood. I don't have the easy balance that I had when I was a whippet. My bike is out of shape, too, and the gears were stiff and sticking. Once on the Prairie Path, however, the riding was smooth, and I gained confidence. So with the wind in my hair and my legs burning with disuse, we pedaled to the river.
I walked to the river in April with a friend who was visiting from the Philippines. We sat on the bench beside the Path eating chicken salad sandwiches and drinking fresh limeade till we were rested. It is a long walk. But it is a quick bike ride.
My husband and I stood on the bridge a long while watching the wind flighting through treetops and threshing the bulrushes and sedge. Watching winds thrash and dance and flutter is one of my chief pleasures in this world. A canoe with three passengers passed under the bridge and meandered around the bend. Far off, I heard children playing, their voices joining the cheerful chatter of songbirds. A hawk floated in the distance. A muskrat appeared at the edge of the river and dove beneath the cloudy water. I was reluctant to ride home.
My bikefast is broken and it certainly won't be another twelve years before I ride my old blue bike again.
He gave me the Bible for Christmas the
year before we were married. A plain, brown cowhide cover back in the day when
leather meant something good. We were newly engaged and in our last year of
college. I read that Bible cover to cover five or six times before it began to
fall apart forty years later, going all loose at the seams with pages beginning
to slip and bits of the leather tearing off at the corners from wear. Like the
Velveteen Rabbit. Like me. Well-loved and well-worn.
So he bought me another one with a black calfskin cover like
he had always wanted to give me. Leather so soft it feels as if it might melt
between my fingers. I find myself caressing it just for the pleasure it gives
my palms, feeling the hint of grain beneath the softness. The pages are tissue
thin like the skin of an old woman, but smooth as silk. The volume opens as
gracefully as a dancer and lies flat on the dining table. The real beauty of
the book, of course, is contained inside the cover. “In the beginning…” I read
aloud the ancient words of poetry. Moses’ words. God’s words reaching down the
ages through men to men…to me as well. Words that have, many times, lifted
me out of a deep pit or carried me through a dark night. Words that have translated and transformed me.
It is undeniably the most incredible piece of literature
ever written. Dozens of authors telling a seamless story through multiple
genres over hundreds and hundreds of years. A love story. And, yes, the most
incredible story ever told.
It comes with a lifetime guarantee, both the story and the
new calfskin cover. Both are gifts I cherish.