Solar Powered Soul: An Artist’s Inspirational Outing

A Sunny Disposition

I’m writing this entry from a bench in the woods. The bench, nestled in front of a finch filled thicket, is marked with a dedication plaque honoring a local scout troop. It’s sunny and I’m inspired. Well, let’s just say the woods is about as woodsy as one can hope to find less than a mile from an apartment in the city. But it’ll do. Here is a little insight into how a little sun makes for a perfect storm… the good kind.

Tracks, bridge, & bike
Tracks, bridge, & bike

Today, my office is perched amidst a plot of dried Black-eyed Susans, the mossy crooked bark of a thousand osage-orange trees, and the melodies of songbirds celebrating with equal tenacity the spring-like weather that has finally bestowed her magic on us. As the radiant sun warms my dark blue jeans to bordering on hot, my depleted solar-powered soul gets his rejuvenation. It’s jacket weather, but the long winter escalates it to tropical breeze and Mai Tai weather. This spot, a local (yet widely unknown) city park, is only a couple acres of fairly wild landscape. If you can ignore the Big Gulp cups and empty 40 oz beer cans that litter the occasional periphery, one might actually trick themselves into thinking they are secluded into the wilderness.

It’s a quite unusual measuring stick to wield: How far have I come from my roots? How can two or three acres of Loganberries and felled trees, muddy maintained trails lined with dog paw prints and cross trainer tracks, resonate so deeply with my recollection of the hours I used to spend wondering the local woods near my childhood home?

In my head: Remember that I used to camp? I used to trail-blaze. What happened?

Then, from nowhere, calmness. The sun hits my face. My winterized indoor complexion will probably have a sunburn tomorrow. I smile…

1 1/2
1 1/2

I accidentally spooked a deer away from a hidden clearing today. I’ll take it.

This is one of the places I come to think, to be inspired, and to remind myself why I make artwork. It’s so easy to fall into the competitive trumpeting of intellectual banter, the card game of salesmanship and marketing, and the hand-shaking ‘how-do-you-dos’ of reception schmoozing. The citified realities that make up the job that I love so dearly, find themselves back seated instantly when I grind the breaks and stop for the soul. It’s springtime today. After what has been the most grueling winter in recent memory, I’ve parked my 1978 Puch Newport moped next the railroad tracks adjacent to the park and ventured in….

“Bzzzz bzzzzd.”… a muffled Peter Gunn theme-song plays from my pocket. I momentarily curse the temporarily good cell phone service that I’m receiving. The city called, it wants its artist back. No worries, I’ve roughed out a few ending paragraphs and I’ll pretend to finish this from the woods later.

…where was I? Oh, yes. The romance in nature.

An almost-secret spot
An almost-secret spot

This nested collection of twisted branches and budding leaves is an injection of organic amongst the cement rectangles of the city. It’s a nice reprieve. There’s a clearing off the main path, one of my favorite spots. Two discarded Icee cups and a few used firecracker carcasses mingle in a circle around a handful of poorly smoked cigarette butts. Clearly remnants of teenagers. I wonder if I’ve found their hideout or if they’ve found mine. The responsible adult part of brain decides I should bring a trash bag next time while my springtime brain thinks about who I’d bring out to this almost-secret location. The leaves will be in full bloom soon. Brainstorming happens.

Remember that deer I said I had spooked earlier? This is when it happened. I know I’m not telling this in chronological order, but hey, maybe I’m Quentin Tarantino-ing this. Their camouflaged color is suited well for this time of year. In truth, I jumped about 6 inches as the human sized deer jolted away from my side. My muddy tennis shoes paced off: 1…2… 15 steps away from my branch-seat.

I step away from the treeline and make my way to the tracks. My ankles roll on aged spider-apples (the two-fisted fruit of the osage-orange tree) and I pretended not to know that their abilities to ward off spiders was a myth. Mostly because my parents swear by their powers. My brain is instantly converted into the 3rd grade Daric, who spent hours rooting around in the rocks at my piano teacher’s country driveway while waiting my turn for lessons. A graceful moment hits, thanks Mrs. Seaton. I walked away with maybe 50 lbs of your driveway during those years.

Glass beehive
Glass beehive

The curled railroad is blanketed in galaxies of treasures. The sun sparkles off of a piece of pyrite impregnated in quartzite. The trees, mud, and rail ballasts (rocks) are havens for a person like me. I use all of my strength to pick up a downed telephone post from the era of Thomas Edison. It drops with a thud and I feel the muddy earth mix with the rusty metal wrapped around the beams. I see twinges of vibrant turquoise… my inner child calls them glass beehives. It dawns on me that I have a set of downed telephone posts from this time-frame that have yet to be made into a kinetic sculpture. Brainstorming happens.

I take snapshots of rail typography and wonder what it all means. Then I wonder what ‘it all means’. It’s writing time. An artist’s inspiration isn’t always from another artist. For me, it’s not that 1 to 1. I’m writing this entry from a bench in the woods. The bench, nestled in front of a finch filled thicket, is marked with a dedication plaque honoring a local scout troop. It’s sunny and I’m inspired.

rail type
Rail typography
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