Musings of a birdsong. Yesterday morning I awoke quite early, before sunrise. I lay in the tent and listened to a cacophony of birds chirping. Like me, I am certain they were celebrating the first beautiful morning sans rain. One particular bird rang out in the clear. I drifted in and out of sleep as I listened and it was speaking to me. Strange though because it was chirping in Spanish. I kept hearing “buenas dias.” Over and over. Even thought I caught a “senor” at one point. Perhaps I really had dozed then but it seemed to turn to German, and as I do not speak German, “nein,” I cannot tell you what this bird was conveying to me.
But the subtleties of their song fascinated me. Lulled me. Serenaded me. I thought for a second, how lucky I am to be the only person in the world right now hearing a bird sing. Yep, there’s Jeff and the rest of the world revolving around him, ha.
In light of this special Sunday, I do hereby dedicate this blog to the memory of my dad. Anyone who knew him, who met him albeit briefly, knew that this man was special, indeed. I learned the gift of giving from him. He pushed me and was not always patient with me, but he always allowed it to be on my own terms. And he respected me; something that I have hoped always to take out into the world with me, at every turn, each chance encounter. He volunteered at the local zoo, I think so as to share his stories and jokes with people he happened to meet. Usually armed with jokes not so funny with ambling punchlines, he was the one always laughing, silently, with his shoulders lurching up and down, huge grin ear to ear. And it was this quality of the man that then made you smile, in spite of the joke that rarely landed, and as you walked away you felt you had actually “met” someone. This was his special ability.
The joke I would tell that would always crack him up, silently and shoulders lurching, was: "Why was Christ crucified instead of stoned to death? So that the Catholics could make the sign of the cross instead of.... [physically gyrating violently as though being stoned to death.]"
One of the oddest memories I have as a kid, of many, is how he would reach almost clear across the car, right in front of your face in the passenger seat, to wave a thank you to someone who let him go first at a four-way stop. He was generous to a fault that way. Happy Day, Dad.
So. Thanks in part to my bird friends, I am up and walking down to the pond a hundred yards from my site. I nibble a protein bar. Time to paint a sunrise. Back up the hill, gather gear and set up well before the sun is peeking over the Berkshires. This will be the exact perspective of the painting I did on Friday when it began magically raining on me from a single cloud. I block in the sketch, the sun appeared and now I am looking directly into the sun, painting with one hand, blocking the direct rays with t’other. I worked fast and within an hour had a very impressionistic rendering with which I was very pleased. It had been fun. If it isn't fun, don't do it, say I. Ay.
I am excited as I remember that John bought a painting from me couple of weeks ago, a vista of Big Sur painted from nature, a gift for his girlfriend’s birthday. I take him to lunch, we devour a couple of burgers and a beer, and I paint for two hours in front of the Thompson Chapel built c. 1904. Williams College, established in 1793 (I spy the sign across the street), is often ranked top undergraduate college in the country, edged out in 2013 by Princeton. Williams is closely linked to Wesleyan and rival, Amherst College.
Hitting the road at 6pm, I will most certainly be setting up camp after nightfall. But driving through the Adirondacks, winding around the Hudson River, the coin drops: I get the Hudson Valley painters. It is sunset and the colors are remarkable. I see in this sky the works of Frederic Edwin Church, Kensett, Gifford, Durand and, of course, Albert Bierstadt. I get a pang of excitement in my stomach, I am ready. I am ready.