(Launched a little late, written way back in May): Memorial Day, the official start of the summer season here in Maine. Today I remember my sister, who served twenty years in the navy; my brother, who taught 5th graders and loved mischief; and my mom, who joined them in March. It is strange to have grown up in a big, boisterous family and to now find myself one of only four siblings, who are all in middle age with grown children of our own.
This is from a series called "Vague Memories," about my childhood. In this one my family watches my father, who is one of the crew painting our new home in Portland, Oregon, in the early sixties. When we moved there, we could see Mt. St. Helens from our deck - before the trees grew and the mountain erupted and lost 1,000 feet! Behind the house stretched the canvas of my childhood, acres of wild woods where the whole neighborhood played. Our yard was one of the major entry paths for the kids on our street.
I can still feel the cool, packed earth beneath bare feet if I close my eyes. And I can summon up the sense of excitement and delicious danger as I stepped beneath the cool branches of trees.
It was here that I learned to imagine. There was space for dreaming, for transporting into other worlds and futures. It held real dangers, the kind that involved falling from trees or running headlong into a patch of nettles or stepping on nails, and also the kind that swirled around the emotional warfare of childhood friendships. And it held real magic, the kind that turned a band of scruffy kids into a kingdom in a far-off land, and the kind that formed friendships that held one through the emotional turbulence of growing up.
So much has changed, but that core remains the place from which all of the rest of my life emerges and grows. It was that awe-filled wonder that drew me to art, as a way to try to capture and express what came bubbling up from the flickering shadows and light-play-on-leaves landscape of my childhood. As I grow older, and see a world more and more virtually engaged with the landscape, I cherish those days of playing in mud, climbing trees, and running loose with only my imagination as a tool for exploring. I think we can all use a little more boredom, a little more space in which to let our minds wander free. And so this summer I hope to have some of those moments. And I hope that others can find those moments too. Happy Summer!