At the end of a week that was anything but, I have some how landed in the centre of an unbelievable calm. I sit here, listening to the hum of my computer as it backs my archived projects onto disk, sifting quietly thru paint chips, occassionally holding one against the wall, tipping my head to contemplate it for a moment. Wondering whose job it is to come up with names for these tints and shades and hues. Scrim, Pith, Cumulus Clouds. Sea Oats, Sawdust, Quiver, Cat’s Whiskers. I wonder if it is a job I would be good at. I wonder if it is something that pays well, although to tell you the truth, the last thing on my mind these days is money.
And I realize that even though my hands are cold and my coffee still colder, even though my studio is a shambles and there is dog hair and eraser bits collecting in haphazard piles under my chair, even though I have crossed the entire spectrum of emotion this week from elation to despair and back again… right now I am seated in an almost unearthly tranquility, smooth as glass, a lake without ripple. Present. Still.
I look at my paint chips again and wonder if I would recognize the colour of this feeling if I saw it, knowing already that I would and knowing also that it is a colour that one can never buy. It’s a shade too delicate, too intimate, too fine to be produced by machine, by random pigment tossed together. It is the colour of a kiss, the blush on an infant’s cheek, the colour of wind, the colour of a wish. The colour of peace.
I am ever so pleased with myself because I actually managed to finish a painting last week AND get it in the mail, a 10 inch x 10 inch acrylic painting that I soon discovered is mucho hard to photograph accurately or scan because of the unusual colour palette and the layers upon layers of satin varnish I coated it with. It actually looks a lot better in person that it does in this photo, but this is the best reproduction of it I could get. The color is really off here and the texture of it is completely lost. It’s called “Night Nest” and has a kind of ethereal, autumny mood to it in reality. Note that I said “finish a painting last week”… I did not say “START and finish a painting last week”, because the painting was actually mostly completed last summer and I just put on the final touches last week. But regardless… I did it. Yay me.
The painting is actually a donation for a charity auction for the Rehabilitation Centre for Children Foundation in Winnipeg to help children with disabilities in purchasing wheelchairs and special equipment. I hope it fetches something!!!
It felt good to get out the paint brushes again. I desperately need to restock my paint drawer. I’m horrible about recapping my paints and my paint drawer is littered with the stiff corpses of dried up paint tubes. Occassionally, I’ll unearth a tube with a small squishy bubble of paint in the center and will slice it open with an exacto knife to get to the viable stuff, but those bubbles are becoming scarce. But in keeping with my new “no excuses” mantra, I will make it a point to go get more this weekend so I can make like Prudence Heward and coat my world with colour and paint. I wish we had a decent art supply store closer, but we don’t. Probably just as well actually… art supplies are frighteningly expensive and I find it hard to control myself when I’m faced with shiny rows of squishy new painty potential. I’d bleed our bank accounts dry in no time if it wasn’t such a pain in the arse to go to the store I frequent (though perhaps “rarely” would be a more apt term than “frequent”!). But as I keep telling the hubby, it could be worse, I could be into jewellry or shoes or ponies or first edition books or something. He lucked out in that my obsessions are art supplies, acorns, toadstools, and magazines.
You have to believe me, I’m magic…. See the toadstools there? I made them happen. I did. No, really. I did! Practically overnight. Okay, wait, backup… this is how it happened. So last year about this time (although actually I think maybe a little closer to Halloween) I found a patch off teeny weeny toadstools sprouting from an old willow in the park, the one that has the broken branch that looks exactly like a gargoyle, and I fell instantly in love with them. I love toadstools. They look like little fairy critter condos or something and I spend much more time than is probably healthy thinking about what it would be like to live in an itty bitty toadstool village. I took four bajillion photos of those itty bitty toadstools and though Johnny Shroomstomper thought that a bit obsessive, I’m awfully glad I did. Turns out it was a most serendipitous find, because when I returned the next day, they were all shrivelled and flopped over, as if their very souls had been stolen by Ursula the Sea Witch in Disney’s The Little Mermaid (remember? the little shrunken souls that lined the bottom of her lair, all wilted and wailing?). The magic was all used up apparently. Toadstool villages, it would appear, do not have a very long shelf life so maybe it’s just as well I don’t live in one. It seems a rather precarious real estate investment.
Anyway… that was last year and though I have been on the lookout, I have not seen anymore toadstool villages anywhere in the park. So about a week ago, I stood under that one particular willow (the one with the branch that looks just like a gargoyle) and sang it a very special mushroom song. I don’t remember exactly how it went, but it was something like “mushroom spores, mushroom spores, root and grow… mushroom spores, mushroom spores, put on your magic show…” and it probably went along to the tune “Smelly Cat” as written and performed by Phoebe Buffay of Friends fame as all my made up songs usually do for some reason, whether I intend them to or not. Either “Smelly Cat” or “Hooked on a Feeling.” Go figure.
And yes, before we go any further, I know! I KNOW! I am deeply, deeply weird. But in a friendly, completely non-serial killer kinda fashion, so it’s all good.
So I sang my song to the mushroom/toadstool free tree (what’s the difference between a mushroom and a toadstool anyway? Does anyone know?!) and two days later, an entire toadstool village sprouted up. It did! Really! I am sooooooo not making this up! I am completely magic! I am, I am, I am!!! Who knew?! The fact that my magic seems limited to conjuring very brief appearances of fungus in no way diminishes the delight I experience in having this wonderous charm, but I wouldn’t object if the Powers That Be saw fit to bestow upon me the ability to conjure up say money, chocolate raspberry truffle ice cream or peonies. There’s only so much employment for a Toadstool Whisperer, you know?
And it turns out that my magical mushroom song works not only on willows with gargoyle shaped branches, but nearby trees as well, because just steps away , I found a whole new patch of mushrooms/toadstools of a relatively gigantic variety, a hearty, pinkish variety. The picture up top is of one of those.
I took another five bajillion photos of the new patch of shrooms, and one of these days I will get my act together and post a set of the best ones in Flicker. I also took about five bajillion pictures of this the sight directly over my shoulder that was twitching and sniffing and imploring me to please, please, please step away from the fungus and throw something fetchable already.
I’m heartbroken today over news that Steve Irwin, otherwise known as The Crocodile Hunter, died from a stingray barb to his heart while filming on the Barrier Reef. I wasn’t a rabid follower of his, really, but I admired him enormously. I just loved his contagious enthusiasm, his joie de vivre, the way he relished life and lived out loud, chewing up the scenery with such great joy and passion. I loved the way he talked about his wife, his children, his enormous capacity for love and wonder. And of course, his unswerving committment to animal conservation and the environment. He was such a rare and wonderful individual and I think the world will miss him deeply.
Usually when a “celebrity” dies, I feel a pang of sadness or sympathy but it doesn’t greatly impact me. But when I woke to the news about Steve Irwin this morning, I cried.
We would all do well to take the example that Steve presented to the world to heart, to live life out loud, with passion and committment, vigor, warmth and humour. He made the world a better place and I hope his legacy will live on forever.