“squeaking with joy, ” cousin kate wrote – all in caps – “the turtles are back!”.
at the exact time she sent that, we were on our trail, on the bridge over the river, gazing down at the turtles. we had seen a couple earlier in the spring, but then it got cold and they disappeared. now, they are back – seemingly for good – and we, too, are squeaking with joy.
earlier in the winter, i had written:
“i think about the turtles. they are there in the warmer months, sunning on logs and rocks that jut out of the river. but, when it dips below fifty degrees or so – and stays there – they disappear. apparently, they dive down to the muddy bottom, their metabolism slows down, they require less oxygen. their mucky homes keep them safe as they bide time, these wise, long-lived creatures of the water and the land.
we know they are there – somewhere – in hidden spots, places they feel sheltered and secure. i think about what they might be doing. they are silent and the fallow is long. i trust they are sorting what is next, kind of like us.
time keeps moving, though, and i keep hope that when it warms up and the turtles have a more secure sense of themselves in the world they will reappear, out of the suspension of presence. i’m hoping for an early spring.
and waiting. and the river freezes. and then it thaws.“
and then i had this idea walking down the hall the other day. it was a the-turtles-are-back idea.
in my mind i named it “out of fallow” or “out of the mud” or even “the relevant challenge” or “on the fly” but the name is fluid. the idea floated around and landed tiny feet on my brain, so i eventually told david about it.
it’s relatively simple. we choose ten destinations – in wisconsin, in the midwest, on the northeast coast, in the high mountains, on quiet southern beaches, in the canyonlands, in the grand national parks – all different projects. taking a yamaha portable battery-operated keyboard (with recording/disc drive capability), ten canvases and paint, both laptops, and a couple spiral notebooks – we go to each destination for a pre-determined amount of time (say, three hours). while there, i compose on the fly – what that place feels like – and he paints on the fly – what that place feels like. on the fly – spontaneous creation – is not for the meek at heart. it requires focus, has a terminal product necessary at the end – a short time after beginning – and necessitates a degree of letting go. it pushes us back into the active-art-place and pushes us past edges. it gets us out of the muddy bottom. it produces the raw pieces of an album to be orchestrated and a collection of paintings to be framed. it needs some support to get off the ground. it has me pondering, swimming to the surface with the turtles.
our snouts will pop out of the river and we’ll look around some, trying to figure it out. we would definitely need some encouragement, some warm sun, some help.
and, if we move forward, out of the suspension, we – turtles, too – will definitely be squeaking.
read DAVID’s thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY
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