Thursday, November 25, 2010
I'm grateful for this—this world-wide quasicommunity—because I can reach across space in real-time and let you know that there's a person here, and I can hear you, and I care. It only seemed fitting to post some recent journal images from Williamstown, Massachusetts, which is at least proximal geographically to the "first" Thanksgiving. [The painting was done looking through a hotel window when the day turned cold. Is that still en plein air? Or just 'plein'?]
I'd been to Plymouth, in early years, and stared at the Rock with its trenchant "1624," and have since reflected on the devoted but narrow-minded fundamentalist fanatics that landed in the area. They were wholly unprepared to live off the land, lacking even basic tools for creating shelter (or the wit to learn the skills to make one before leaving their former culture) who had yet the good sense (grace?) to recognize which side of their popcorn the butter was on when winter came and the locals were kind enough to not let them starve. (Yes, popcorn. Corn is a New World grain, and the first people here stored it dried for winter, and ate much of it popped. Without salt.)
I'm grateful for having had the chance to travel, to see the leaves turn in Williamstown this year, and know that life goes on, and feel the flow of it around and through me. To see my son at college, turning into his own man, bursting with new thoughts and feelings, with the potency of dried corn in winter, to think that his knowledge and contributions will be the stored sustenance of the coming age. To see art, and make it. These things make me grateful.
Don't think me bizarre for drawing in a graveyard. They are filled with marks and sigils, semiotics of life, and lives lived. I find cemeteries deeply meaningful, and they fill my heart with love for people who lived, and died, and those who wanted to remember and be remembered. This old necropolis has markers of people born in the 1700's, who were pioneers of western expansion, who lived through the Revolution, and knew what it was to go to war for independence from a distant and greedy governance, and to gain self rule. Who (notwithstanding the people who were already here) had to clear land, make a road for wagons where there were none, and built first one wood home, then many. Their descendants ran schools and volunteer fire stations, voted for mayor and built mills. They played in the rivers and prayed for rain. And sometimes they were grateful, just to be alive.
To my friends and family, "Thank you." It's great to know I have a place, and a voice, and a table with food on it, and, God willing, we'll all make it through winter.
Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity. —Horace Mann