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the path back is the path forward


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discovery. [d.r. thursday]

back in the day crunch and i went to every lighthouse on long island’s shoreline and its peripheral islands off the coast. i was doing a photographic study for a college class and crunch was a happy participant, lugging me around in his big green truck and taking us out in his boat, a few boats before his current beloved ‘elephant ears’. the day i got to go up into the fire island lighthouse was memorable. it wasn’t open to the public but the lighthouse keeper was there and generously offered us a tour. the textures – going up the 182 steps on that spiral staircase to the light tower – were photographically inviting: the iron stairs, the cement walls, the ribbed glass of the light. every so often there was a peek out one of the windows built into the structure in 1826 and rebuilt, more than twice as high, in 1857, its eventual black and white bands of color distinguishing it along the ocean front. my essay is all on slides and, after borrowing one of those kodak carousel slide projectors (you can hear the ca-chunk of the slides changing even in your memory), we watched it a couple years ago. all those lighthouses – some steadfast, tall and proud, some crumbling, some pristine and unmanned, each a source of a study in woven texture and, when you are lucky enough to hear the mournful sound of the foghorn and breathe in thick salty air, a synthesis of senses. discovery.

when we were walking along the seine river in paris the sun was setting. i had never been to the eiffel tower and, though i had seen pictures, kind of expected to be underwhelmed. i’ve never been a really big tourist-attraction kind of person, preferring places of nature. we kept walking toward it, strolling, and i could see it in the distance starting to loom into the sky. the lights turned on as we got close and i caught my breath. it was stunning. gold against the early evening sky, light of day dropping away, it was one of my favorite moments in paris. discovery.

every time we come over the pass and start to drop down – the vista of high mountains before us – i cry. forests of evergreens to our side, snow-caps ahead, towering mountains that make my toes curl. i literally want to pull over every few feet to capture the sheer stunning beauty of it all, to remember the green and the blue, to breathe in the cooler air and the scent of pine. we keep driving and i memorize it for the days i am at sea level, wondering if, were we to live there, i would ever not see the incredible-ness of it. or would it always and always be a discovery?

as we walk around our ‘hood, as we hike familiar and unfamiliar trails, i feel open. open to seeing the textures of life as it goes on around us, as it goes on through us. back in the day, with crunch and my blue jean cap, i took a lot of photos on my old 35mm camera. nothing has really changed. my camera is an iphone these days, i don’t have my old blue jean cap and, missing him, david and i haven’t seen crunch in a few years.

but on the best days, in the best moments, when everything else drops off and we are nowhere but right where we are, i am aware of texture after texture, grain and weave and nap and frequency and harmonics, a composition of smooth and rough, woven and intermingled, softly and intensely waiting to be discovered.

isn’t it grand?

*****

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drifting in deep waters. [k.s. friday]

adrift

in the wee hours of the dark night, long island sound is quiet.  crunch and i would sit in his boat, inky skies punctuated by a million stars and the lights of the shore, our fishing together comfortable, a thermos of coffee to share, some conversation.  treasured memories now, i was adrift with one of my best friends and completely at ease.

we were probably 12 or 13 when the sunfish sailboat we were in became becalmed.  sue and i sat out in the middle of the big pennsylvania lake and, with no wind from any direction, started laughing.  we were in no danger; we had already capsized a couple times and had survived that.  but we were a distance from the shore and i don’t remember there being any paddles in that little sailboat.  at some point my uncle must have realized our predicament and came out in his speedboat with a towrope. the sunburn decades-faded, i was adrift in that lake with one of my best friends and completely at ease.

as we sit in the middle of this pandemic, this time of change and this time of no-change, we feel motionless, even stranded.  we are learning patience, we are learning to slow down; we are learning.  we are changing our expectations and our measurements of success.  we are marooned in a vast water, drifting, unsure, way out in the deep.  but all around us are others who are generously sitting with us, sharing, nurturing us, also drifting.  our sails are buoyed with winds of kindness, our anchors a steadfast dedication to the well-being of all.  we are grateful for the goodness of brilliant minds, the commitment and sacrifice of front-liners, the respect and honoring of that which keeps us all safer and healthier.

and one day, as we look back at this time, for surely it will someday be a memory, we will see that we were adrift with our best friends and, though trusting and in the care of each other, it truly was a time of unease, the shoreline was not visible and the fathomless water in which we were stranded was way bigger than us.

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ADRIFT ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

 

 


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take flight. [k.s. friday]

take flight songbox

i have a seagull collection.  much like my horse collection, my seagull collection is much bigger in my memory than in the actual bin-in-the-basement.  when i opened what i thought was a big stable of horse figurines, i was shocked to find that my i-packed-it-in-1972-according-to-the-newspapers-in-the-box brain had overestimated the numbers…by a lot.  my seagull collection, on the other hand, was packed a bit later – more like 1980 – and i had a (little bit) better memory about how many jonathan livingston seagulls i had collected through the years.

growing up on long island i loved seagulls.  never too far from the beach, they were everywhere, but i spent great periods of time beach-sitting winter/spring/summer/fall watching them swoop and holler, screeching at their scavenged finds.  richard bach created a whole seagull community metaphor and i fell right in.

i can still smell the wet sand, see the seaweed washed ashore on pebbles i collected even back then, feel the sun, even the winter sun, on my face.  it all made me breathe differently.  it all made me think and grow and dream.

john denver’s song the eagle and the hawk spoke to me back then.  his simple lyrics prompted me to let those dreams TAKE FLIGHT.

“And all of those who see me, and all who believe in me
Share in the freedom I feel when I fly.
Come dance with the west wind and touch on the mountain tops,
Sail o’er the canyons and up to the stars.
And reach for the heavens and hope for the future,
And all that we can be and not what we are”

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TAKE FLIGHT from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1997 & 2000 kerri sherwood

 


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adrift. [k.s. friday]

adrift songbox

“from a visual place…adrift on long island sound late-night.  from an emotional place…living in the gray.” (liner notes – blueprint for my soul, 1996)

the gray.  it sounds dismal.  but gray is not devoid of color.  if you mix the three primary colors together – red, yellow and blue – and then add white, you will hone the gray of your choosing.  if you have ever stood in front of color samples at home depot or menards you know that gray, itself, spans a full spectrum.  so many choices.  all gray.  the only thing really pertinent about gray is that it isn’t just black and white.  it swirls together every color of experience, every emotion, every laugh and every tear.  it is not defined by distinct edges, but blurs one moment into the next.

the word ‘adrift’ sounds inactive.  but, in this vast world, aren’t we pretty much adrift?  we believe we are proactive; we act on things we believe in.  and yet.  we bounce off turbulent waves threatening to destroy us; we ride others into the beach.  we sit in calm waters and we try to navigate the waters that toss us wildly.  we make decisions in moments of incomplete information; we have successes, we have regrets.  we are adrift in the gray.

in moments of sunshine on trails in the woods i feel less adrift and more centered, more clear.  it’s the rest of the moments when i try my best to ‘go with the flow’.  we are surrounded by unknowns, caught in many an eddy.  we are uncertain, but we are all capable.  we are held in glimmering gossamer silks of grace by a universe that is benevolent.  adrift.

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ADRIFT from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

 

 


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the sun rises in the east. [d.r. thursday]

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when i think about long island, i miss the days that i could bike to the beach, climb the fence and watch the sun rise over the sound.  these colors – the blue, green, aqua, yellow – dominated those mornings, both gentle and fierce, end of night, beginning of day.

i feel that if i were in outer space looking from far away at the earth…i would see the sun wrap its rays around the east side of the earth, a mix of blues and greens, melded into a blur with a rounded edge.  it would be a kaleidoscope of color and feeling.

either way i hold this piece, vertically or horizontally, i see the sun.  golden rising.  off the east edge of the earth.  or over the water.  either way, a new day.

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the sun rises in the east ©️ 2018 david robinson, kerri sherwood