Greetings! This is my place for art and thinking. The images I find out in the world and close to home are sometimes put here. I like to smile and hence like to find images that are smileworthy. I'm also a bit melancholy sometimes and hence you might find images of solitude and loneliness.
Tranquility. A place? A state of Mind? A space Station? All of the above? I remember with relatively great clarity (or at least I think I do), July 20, 1969, when man landed on the moon. Tranquility Base was the first manned station on a celestial body besides earth. My story starts the week before the landing.
With virtually no planning two friends from Platte, SD, and I decided to do a mad dash from South Dakota to Lake Louise in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. After all, we were on summer break and had 7 days with no scheduled activities. Like the crazy 20 year olds we were, we packed our huge, heavy canvas tent, cooler, and other supplies for a week into my 1965 Mustang. We spent the first night in the Black Hills of SD, close to what was the Dinosaur Park. From there we drove to Yellowstone National Park where we camped in a place now closed to tent camping because of bears. And we did see a grizzly bear in the campground when we were there. The rangers brought a "bear trap" to the campground and put it about 100 yards from our tent. The trap was a very large steel culvert with a piece of meat on one end. The bear comes in one end of the culvert, pulls on the meat, and the door slams shut. They caught him! But honestly, we did not get much sleep that night.
From Yellowstone we drove to Glacier Park. It wasn't a pleasant drive, my Mustang did not like the exceedingly steep roads in the summer heat and my water temperature got too high. We ended up driving with the radiator cap off. I'm sure that's not a good thing. We apparently blew the thermostat, who knew? the downhill side was just as bad because I worried about my brakes overheating. I don't remember where we camped that night, probably too stressed out.
My father was born in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, and grew up in nearby Medicine Hat. We next stopped in those two places and looked at what had been his childhood homes. Not surprising, none of us 20-year-olds were overly impressed.
We next drove to Lake Louise in Banff. Except there was no place to camp and we couldn't get to the fancy hotel (not that we could afford to stay there). I don't remember why, perhaps because of the "No Camping Ahead" signs. We did park somewhere and hiked up a mountain so that we could see the lake as well as the lodge we'd heard so much about. Unbelievable blue water. But we needed a place to camp and ended up on Mt Eisenhower. The Canadians changed the name in 1979 back to Castle Mountain because why would you name a Canadian Mountain after an American president. I mean, really. Quick story about that mountain, we camped high, at the treeline and not "finished," that is no facilities. The next morning for some crazy reason, I decided I needed to wash my hair. Without thinking I stuck my head in the small creek next to our campsite. Wow. The water was so cold that I felt like my head was hit by a hammer.
On July 20, 1969, the last night of our journey, we were sleeping next to a cornfield someplace in Saskatchewan, Canada. The night sky was clear, the moon was out but i think it was a quarter moon. We were listening to my tiny little radio about Tranquility Base and man walking on the moon. Pretty spectacular, we thought. But so was our trip, we noted.
Circling back to Tranquility. The Japanese Gardens at Maymont are a place where tranquility reigns. The image is looking over the Moon Bridge to the waterfall.
Postscript. Last year, I reached out to my travelling companions. They still live in Platte, SD, and are doing well.
Last week I was visiting Ginter Gardens during a rainstorm. The wind was blowing hard and the raindrops were drumming a light tattoo on me and the flowers. This particular blossom seemed to be posing as "bashful" or perhaps waving goodbye since shades of brown hinted that better days had passed. I am reminded that diminishing life and fading beauty are actually stepping stones to the next place, the next bloom, the next year. Wabi-Sabi...life's changes are required.
Someone suggested that I walk slower through gardens, buildings, and cityscapes, for then I'd then be able to feel and hear the ghosts of days gone by, a little bit of "If these walls could talk." I have taken the suggestion and slowed my pace considerably although some of my friends might say that my age and titanium joints have done the slowing. "Fah!" I say. As I walk about I try to imagine what the makers were thinking as they built in then completed the place. Were they proud of what they'd done? The people who lived in or cared for the place...was it just a duty or was there perhaps an emotional commitment? Why is the place abandoned or why is the condition superb after all the use and years? I don't think I hear their voices but I do think I give voice to what they left behind.
Yesterday I went to Maymont in Richmond. I've only seen a small bit of the place and look forward to going back. My walkabout included only the Italian and Japanese Gardens. I tried to imagine the family that had lived there a hundred years ago. And then I tried to imagine the people that designed and built the gardens in the 1890s. What do you suppose they were trying to provide? Sanctuary? Post-war peace? Transformation to another land? People build things and those things remain as their legacy, if they'd written down how they FELT about doing what they were doing, we'd better understand why they did what they did. On the other hand, then their ghosts wouldn't talk with me on my walkabouts.
A couple of weeks ago I wandered about the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and found this room of Roman artifacts. When I thought about Roman art I usually thought in black and white because the statues we see from that era are all white stone. This exhibit pointed out that most of the statues were actually painted in the vivid colors of the time but that, over time, those colors had worn away leaving only the pure white stone. The Romans were very colorful people, the stone mosaic floors that survived time, earthquakes, and floods give us an idea how bright and colorful the Age of the Romans really was.