Monday, December 26, 2016

Brought Beyond Fear - Winter Introspections on a Christmas Eve

Air travel makes me feel that I contain shades of people from eons back in ancestral times and places, who make themselves felt in a kind of glee that we, here and now, aren't confined to ground travel at any speed, least of all walking, and that we're privileged to swoop away over the curvature of earth that only heavenly bodies daily pass across. I feel it in a swell of tears behind my eyes. Holidays are my normal excuse for air travel, so I'd have to admit that sheer wistfulness, excitement at the prospect of rejoining daughter, sister or cousins, precious members of a small far-flung family, causes this feeling. I think too that even for frequent long distance travelers a reluctance is a given, no matter what, at the prospect of leaving home; after all we might never come back. But the exhilaration of the hundred-miles-an-hour take-off  implies a rebellion over any patch of live ground we've stood on, the heritage of ancestors, where soil bacteria, mosses and algae and other tender organisms have continued to support us. We're dismissing it now, at the same time as we might explode in a failure of control at some level of the massive combustion all around us that's propelling this plunge into flight. The sentiments bubble and overflow, yet in the terribleness of what we're riding we might well be prepared to close our consciousness abruptly, succumb to whatever's next. This is how I experience take-off in a jet plane.

I've left the bog lands of the Lake Superior watershed for New York City in a cloud mass that gives the plane a shaky course as the last blue light of day dims blackish. The floor of clouds is characteristically a snowfield with upwellings that fade into night. There is a wilderness aspect to what view is possible out the window away from the travelers around me. They are watching wi-fi movies or are napping; most of them naturally I can't see. It's two hours to New York. Before I begin to notice any degree of tilt into our descent I observe white lights and red way below, a small plane at an altitude to be just skimming the cloud floor. The lights wink, and there's a blue one too. A plane? Or a snow plow? Are the clouds just at the level of some stretch of the Adirondacks that we are flying over, and there's a plow cleaning off a high piece of road engulfed in clouds? I feel as if I'm the only one in the world to be seeing this sight and trying to figure out who that is, doing what.

When you fly in a jet plane there comes at some stage into your descent a relaxation of sound, a sort of prolonged antiphon to the roar that must have been your ascent, and your ears themselves have dimmed with changes in air pressure. You've settled into a glide. In the grey floor out the window rents (gaps) are opening and lit structures pass glowingly near us. We sink into a course that takes in gem-work of night lighting, housing and businesses, all in elegant curves and geometrical arrays. It stretches on and on forward in a patterning that enhances the knowledge that this is Christmas, but that in another part of my mind speaks of infestation. Lights in this case are about triumphs in business and in life; motley colored lights are the emphatic Christmas reminders seen from the air. But America down beneath us is also taken over by ourselves, a most sophisticated life form that like all weeds and pests who have mastered their environment admit little or nothing about their own limits. Through more and more of these exurbs we pretend we can go on encrusting more of the ground and slurping more of the water that mix for our nourishment. And now that superstructure and enterprise is off-gassing into intense weather phenomena that ever oftener come back for us in escalating degrees of danger, but we go on making jet fuel and expanding the airports and hyping the economic growth that boosts ever more of the take-over. We have seen our own heyday by and large and we need to adjust to what comes after, which somehow needn't be our extinction, don't you want to think?.

                        Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY on Christmas Day 2016 - winter imitates spring

Like the skiers of the world and other snow-lovers I'm saying good-bye to winter landscapes, which are not going away but are changing to be muckier and greyer and browner. But tradition remains strong in each of us, tradition that celebrates the unchanging look of places, seasons, faces, whatever we cherish. On a night like this full of a sense of the festive, of a knowledge of precedent and of ways that have worked so long and well, isn't there no end of possibility? That the majority know what will need to stay in place to make way for a livable future, that the same majority will count, will succeed in the midst of all their places worthy of saving, and that all these thinkers and devotees and protectorates will, united, be enough to enable future generations who guard against the deadly temptation into perpetual, impossible growth...?

Looking at my own wall art where I live (including framed photos) I'm inclined to admit that winter was always the peak of the year to me, whether or not I'd dare to say it's my favorite season. Winter spins off spring, after all, and is the culmination of autumn. It's in my nature to discourage people from dismissing winter as a dread time and instead to see it for its glories--get out there, look long and look close even if you have to do it from a car. Two original artworks are these:

                         March: Red-winged Blackbird over Lake Pepin (Mississippi River) Blufflands 
                            original watercolor framed at 14 1/2 x 17 1/2 inches framed 

           original watercolor and gouache 16 x 20" matted

Also on -   Surreal Snow Landscape Boreal Forest Cliff with Gull Collision into Rock Facade....

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