When I moved off the river several years ago, my muse refused to leave with me. Dwelling among nesting redwing blackbirds, and the tailing redfish, she remains in the rose-colored morning mists, and the cry of the osprey, high in its cypress lair. I caught a glimpse of her last, behind a silhouetted, swaying palm, hanging with the moon in a lavender twilight sky, Venus on her shoulder.
Believing I left her behind, I fled north, winding through the mountains and valleys of North Carolina, wondering if her kin dwelt in the rippling streams and shifting mountain light. I found traces of her in the seasons. Once in a winter moon, I caught her winking at me through the branches of a white pine, and in the spring, laughing beside a swelling pasture stream, and summer, in a new mown pasture, frolicking among the fresh rolled bales of hay. I’ve become acquainted with the places she haunts in the mountains and so I must be patient to learn her Appalachian ways.
Ah, but she is a Florida girl, born and bred. Throughout my childhood, her artesian waters flooded my cells and formed my bones. She instilled in me, a sense of marvel for the wonders of nature. She continues to astonish me in the play of her light and the airy colors of her shadows. My father and his folks, forever sleep in her soil, and the ashes of my mother’s father, cast upon her waters. Here lies the seeds of my art. Like the taproot of the old pine, my love goes deep.
Like the moon, though not as predictable, my muse comes and goes. Now, I am a beachcomber, a wanderer along an uncertain shore, stumbling towards a shimmering mirage. Traces of her windswept tracks transport me into the vague ocean of my imagination. Possibilities exist, yet unknowing of what I seek, I travel on faith that fresh waters of inspiration await, to quench my thirsty soul.
Somewhere is the next painting. Recently, my muse is pulling me south to the rural remains of old Florida. On the way, I drive past the burial ground of my father, our mutual name, inscribed on his tombstone. One above ground, one below. One seeking meaning, and ineffable beauty, the other, no longer cares. Still, I carry his seed into the groves, and along the river we once shrimped together. I roam abandoned fish camps, orange groves and palm studded pastures.
Another orange drops to earth with a dull thud. An osprey cries above swaying pines, a breeze is beginning to stir, the perfume of orange blossoms is in the air. I sense her essence near me.