Friday, December 12, 2014

the costs of complicity

Haven't been writing. It's all been building up inside.

I've been grieving so hard this mess in the States... the most recent murders of unarmed Black men and teenagers and boys, the white cops who killed them not indicted, the whole system so corrupt and racist and despicable. 

12 year-old Tamir Rice, shot dead. How can I honor his life? How can I fight against what led to his death? How can I even look at his sweet young face?

So I obsessively check Twitter, get in protracted fights with strangers over FB, draft insane letters to Obama and to Congress, and despair that anything I could do would mean anything. I try to work and it feels indulgent and pointless. I am spinning, spinning, trying to contain all of this conflict, desperate to render it, sort it out, amend the wrongdoing. I have to do paintings about guns, about sugar, about prisons, about lynchings, about most white people's complete fucking inability to comprehend the problem. 

This blog is an inconsequential as a hairpin. I haven't been writing because it feels indulgent and pointless. And then I am angry at myself for overthinking it and allowing myself to be paralyzed by guilt, and for mistakingly believing that I cannot grieve and take action at the same time.

Tamir Rice, John Crawford, Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, Michael Brown, Vonderrit Myers, Dontre Hamilton, Cary Ball, Oscar Grant, and far too many others: I want to memorialize you, I want to paint your portraits. I want to celebrate your human existence. I want to join the chorus singing BLACK LIVES MATTER, until they do. 

"All our silences in the face of racist assault are acts of complicity."  -- bell hooks


Saturday, November 22, 2014


The last project for my collage workshop was to incorporate handrwriting:

I have just a meager stash of collage materials (I will never quit you, Brown Paper), but had a surprising collection of handwriting samples. In the past I would have been reluctant to use them, though that feels completely silly to admit... Why get protective and hoard-y about bits of paper? They're speciaaaaaaaaalllllllllllllllllllllllll.

But this turned out to be the funnest assigment for me: I was protective about nothing. In fact, if there was a bit that I liked too much and was trying to work the entire composition around, I deliberately covered it up. 

That sounds kind of silly, too. WHY AM I SO PROTECTIVE ABOUT PAPER.

But every time I covered up something I thought defined and anchored the whole piece, the whole piece got better. Like Annie Dillard says, sometimes you have to take out a wall. Sometimes it is the bearing wall. 

These quick little pieces are a good place for me to practice this. 

So many of my paintings have suffered because I was protecting them -- couldn't push them past that layer that was supposed to be just a warm-up layer but had some interesting little bit that I got weirdly attached to and wouldn't want to cover up. 

But here, all the truly interesting bits happened in the covering up... I hope that lesson translates from paper to paint. 


Saturday, November 15, 2014

what the paper will do

Another assigment for the online collage workshop was this sweet little accordian book:

It has been very good to keep my hands busy with collaging. I am too impatient to paint these days, feeling all flayed open and distracted. But collage takes somehow less brain power and is more immediately gratifying.

It's good to crank them out, it's good to have deadlines. This is the benefit of school and classes of any kind: stop being precious and do the work. 

I like it, despite its clumsiness. It's a strange story in an unlikely little diary.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

pursuit of patterns

The human brain loves patterns. 

I read an interview once with author and educator Parker Palmer, who asserted that it's our brain's strongest function: creating and following patterns. "The brain is a patterning organ," he said, "it thrives on making connections."

It amused me that among the many intricate and boggling functions our brains perform, there would be one it did best -- liked best. 

How satisfying, then, to work on this assigment, which was to create my own patterned paper and incorporate it into a collage:

It's ironic, too, that I arrive at more dynamic and visually interesting pieces when I think less.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

piecing things together

When I was checking in my bags at the O'Hare airport on our way to England, I was told that I could not take any of my paints with me, because they are "unstable" at flying altitude. I considered arguing that I had successfully transported them both to and from Japan in my suitcase, but there was an official-looking sign at the counter indicating that oil paints are not allowed, and you and I both know exactly how far you get arguing with airport people. 

So, I am without paints until I can figure out where to go to start replacing my stock. Rather than wallow in righteous resentment, I've decided to keep my hands busy by taking an online workshop in collage, led by artist Randel Plowman, of the inspiring A Collage A Day blog. 

I like how collages can be quick studies of color and composition, and it's oddly freeing to work with just a limited range of materials. The results have been looser, less protected, less calculated.

Except for THIS assignment, which was to start with a concept, and create a collage to illustrate it. This is usually how I overwork and kill a painting -- by trying to make it conform to a pre-conceived idea -- but here I tried to be more vague in my definitions and allow for accidents. 

Home -- the colors and creatures of my beloved Lake Michigan:

Home -- apples in season, like a diorama in the Public Museum of my childhood:

Dream -- an convoluted explanation of a simple event, in shapes, shadows on the periphery:

Desire -- a thread connecting the object to my imagination, the gulf that separates me from what I want:

And then I felt impatient with myself for staying too much within the lines of what I always do, so I made these last two without any perimeters:

This one is my favorite:

Which one says what, do you think?


Thursday, September 25, 2014


So, whoa. We live in England now.

We are here and living out of suitcases and riding double-decker buses and discovering parks and museums and funny little alleyways. There is a hustle-and-bustle that is familiar from Kyoto, but a quaintness that suits the scale of the city of Oxford. 

In the City Centre, amidst the colleges of Oxford University, there is that hallowed historical feeling... worn stone steps, churches with thousand-year-old spires, everything uniformly sandstone-colored. Busts of saints and gargoyles peek out from odd corners. The streets are a wonderful jumble: sometimes crooked and cobbled and ancient, and then paved for bus lanes and bike lanes and students on smart phones who cross before they look.

There is an arched walkway between two university buildings called "The Bridge of Sighs." 

We will likely be having high tea with Harry Potter soon enough.

Everything is so quintessentially English, which is ridiculous to say, of course, but the brambly rose gardens growing up mottled cottage walls are straight out of story-books, and the people really do call you "love" in that lilting way, even though you're just in the check-out line at the grocery store.

Bread is good. Cheese is really good. Museums are free. We have bikes. 

So the adventure begins.


Monday, September 1, 2014

push, pull

We spent one last glorious weekend at the lake, and it also happened to be my birthday... a day that always means the end of summer, but was especially bittersweet this year. 

My heart aches to leave it, but our next adventure awaits.


Monday, August 25, 2014

what the paint will do

A few months ago I started working on a portrait of my friend's daughter, for fun. I had already done the ground in loose, wash-y strokes, and wanted to try to keep the same looseness in the face, too.

From the outset, though, I layed down some heavy, chalky colors that simply would not harmonize. Too much contrast; too dark, too purple... Next layer, I'll reconcile that, I told myself.

Next layer: I merely solved one set of problems and created another. I probably should have left well-enough alone but oh right ha ha ha I never do that. Still too purple. I can fix it.

So around and around I went, falling into the same traps, having the same struggle, session after session. Stubbornness is a sneaky beast, isn't it? I worked myself into such a lather, determined to render the effortless sweetness of this expression with MORE effort.

A painter friend suggested, despite my frustration and against my better judgment, to keep pushing.
Just to find out what the paint will do. Here's the evolution:


Wednesday, August 20, 2014


I dreamed the other night that we were at Kyoto Station, and there was a huge crowd waiting to board a train. The kids and I were getting pizza across the street, and when we turned around again the crowd was gone. They had all boarded the last train, and we had missed it.

"Like you were stuck in Kyoto?" Jason asked when I told him about it.
"No, like all of Kyoto left me." I replied.


Back in January, Jason did this thing where he applied for a position at a university in Oxford, England. I knew he was on the look-out for job openings, but I naively assumed any possibilities would bring us closer to home, not around the world in the other direction. He applied almost as a warm-up for the slew of postings that come available in the fall of every academic year, so I put it out of my mind and forgot about it until he found out he'd been short-listed as a candidate, in early March.

A couple of months later, he had a phone interview. Because of a time-zone calculation error and further delays, the call ended up happening at 2 o'clock in the morning, in the freezing front foyer of our Kyoto machiya. The following morning he summed it up like this: "I bombed it."

I reminded him that he usually dramatically underestimates himself, and that he probably did better than he thought. He was adamant, though, and actually a little relieved to be free of the torturous post-interview wait.

We were both genuinely gobsmacked, then, when they called barely four days later to offer him the
position. I was too shocked to even muster an I-told-you-so about his middle of the night interviewing skills.

ENGLAND?! I wrote in my date-book. And then cried for two hours straight.


As our remaining months in Japan unspooled, I tried my best to keep an even keel. While we worked through the logistics of an international hop-scotch move, I mapped an inner topography for the emotional trade-off and energy needed for yet another beginning.

I couldn't imagine going back to Rhode Island, I couldn't imagine what life in the UK might be like, and I couldn't figure out how to enjoy the waking present moment in Kyoto. I felt unmoored and brutally homesick.

I just had to make it here, to this day, then. Things would become clearer.

"We don't have a home," Auden started telling people, "We just rent a house and then move to another country."


Jason left last night, the kids and I will join him in three weeks. Now is the limbo, the space between the things. After all the moving we've done, you would think I'd be all practiced and limber and enlightened about Living in the Now, but it is painful and graceless every time. 

No, not graceless: while we wait for our future to take shape, we are being housed and fed and entertained and shuttled about by my gracious and generous family, who ache just as we do in the bitter and the sweet of this move. And there is the lake.

But because all our moves seem to be pushing us to the ocean and to islands, I have taken to heart this line from Neko Case's "City Swans":

And it breaks my heart just like the day
I looked down and realized
I'd been sailing so long, I'd become the shore.


Sunday, August 10, 2014


When we're in Michigan, the first thing to do is go to the lake.

After a year of feeling perpetually uncomfortable and hungry, of reaching and trying and keeping myself aloft, I can rest and be filled up on this lake. 

Jason and I celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary; the kids are bingeing on cereal and TV. It is undeniably easy to be here... It's too easy. I feel guilty.

But the light on the water at eight o'clock is like something sinking into me, smoothing over what has been ragged and hyper and demanding, reflecting back something pure and unsayable.

Driving home at dusk last week, I watched fireflies light up the ditches by the side of the road -- astounded, in reverie, that there were so many. They lit up the edges of our way home, they kept flashing, pulsing, flickering... What is it? I thought. What is it like? It's so reassuring, how they are there they whole way, no matter which way we turn.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

sayonara, and other pieces out of time

Already, Japan is worlds away. 

Even as we packed our last boxes, distributed our things among friends and neighbors, bade elaborate goodbyes to one and all, I was trying to grasp at something. That fleeting, floating thing I knew I would inevitably ache for as soon as we left. 

Not the house, not the streets, not the encounters, but the air that filled in all the spaces between them. 

I knew I couldn't take it with me, knew I would miss it; can't talk myself out of it.

That air, you know? That light, falling in between our narrow rows of houses, falling on our shoulders as we walked to the park again again again, the corner store again again again, not aware but painfully aware of how beautiful it all is, even as the flaws are apparent, the loneliness ever-present -- the shoji are lovely, but a few have holes, are sticky in their tracks -- still, it is special and therefore WE are special. 

One doesn't like to give up one's loneliness so quickly, it turns out. It lingers, like a vivid dream.

The kids are not sentimental: they are bingeing on cartoons and cereal, entirely spoiled by trips to the Lake and access to the neighbor's pool. It is summer! There are long-forgotten toys! 

We return to something so familiar and so comfortable, and it's this I missed all those long months away, so you can imagine my confusion when I glance at a picture of myself sitting on a stone wall in a temple, and even though I know I was crabby that day, and tired, and the kids were bickering, I want to go back there. Just for a moment. 

But I can't take what I already have, and so I go around noticing the air here, too -- slanting through the giant maples, plied by the lazy calls of mourning doves -- while Auden races ahead, out of view, and Isla falls off her bike, and cries, and then laughs through her exhaustion. 

It's this, it's this, it's this.


Thursday, June 19, 2014


We're on the cusp of leaving. So I started a list of the things I will and will not miss about living here...

the moody mountains
the clean, crooked streets
the baths
the fashion
the way it rains so lightly sometimes, like little flecks of water
the politeness and ritual in every little exchange

sitting on the floor
being functionally illiterate
being stared at
the lack of physical contact (and especially this absurd hand-wave gesture that happens among some women upon greetings and departures -- sometimes it turns into a wimpy hand-clasp, but sometimes stays aloft, the hands slightly repelling eachother like backwards magnets, it's maddening) 
not knowing what is going on 90% of the time
the politeness and ritual in EVERY LITTLE EXCHANGE 

The general word for 'excuse me' is sumimasen, which literally means "it never ends." Whenever I'm feeling like a chump because I can't get the hang of even casual interactions, I imagine people saying that in English and it cracks me up. Like, whoops, didn't see ya there! It never ends! 

A friend of mine who lived here for a long time told me she once bumped into a parked bicycle and automatically apoligized. TO THE BICYCLE. It never ends.


Not too long ago I was chatting with our neighbor, an elderly man who is also an artist, and he was telling me where I could see an exhibition of some of his work. Then he inquired after Jason, and I replied that he was out of town that weekend; but as I was answering, I suddenly realized that maybe he hadn't asked about Jason? Had I misunderstood the word for husband? What's that word that sounds like 'husband' but isn't? Oh god, he asked me about something completely different, and here I am yammering on about Jason's work... By the time I recommitted myself to listening, I had completely missed the next thing he'd said. 

That's how most conversations go. It's uncomfortable to let on exactly how much I don't understand, so most of the time I smile and fake my way through, hoping to get a foothold on a word or a phrase sooner or later. 

It reminds me of riding my bicycle in San Francisco. For several years I lived In Bernal Heights, on top of a formidable hill. I had no car, so I biked everywhere, and that hill was waiting for me at the end of every ride. I came to have an insane amount of respect for that hill. I composed breathless poems to it as I sweated up it. I knew exactly where I had to change gears so as to save the lowest gear for the steepest part. I biked up it almost every day for three years, and it never felt like it got any easier. All the other hills in San Francisco, though? PIECES OF CAKE. 

Japanese feels as relentless as that hill.

But then sometimes, by magic, simpler exchanges plunk right down into my brain, like coins in a vending machine, and don't even need to be translated. 

And then there's my first-grader, who speaks Japanese at school all day, and will willingly do his Japanese homework, but becomes a boneless whining mess when made to practice reading English.

 (Actually, I think he kind of has a point there -- though it can be made perfectly well without the whining -- one I discovered when trying to leave a note for him that he'd be able to understand. I ended up writing it in Japanese because it would be EASIER for him to read. This is completely for bragging purposes, and has only a little to do with the pesky vowel rules of English):

See? Try to simplify yourself in English and you sound like a Neanderthal.

He read it and understood it and was unabashedly proud of himself. I have to admit that I am unabashedly proud, too -- I look at him and think, that's MY KID, turning the tumblers inside the locks of comprehensible syllables, and my god he sounds exactly like all the other defiant and punk-ass first-grade boys around. 

Still. I have this chip on my shoulder: while I'm marveling at my children's effortless grasp of verb conjugation and they way they charge into communication, I get so annoyed when other people treat it as such a remarkable thing. Usually it's because I overhear someone, at the playground for example, saying it to someone else -- "Oh, foreigners! Oh, they speak Japanese!" Even if they say it directly to me, it still comes across as a veiled insult, like, you have managed to transcend your natural stupidity to acquire our difficult and important language. This is a common theme when I talk to the little old ladies at the sento, "Japanese is so hard, isn't it?" they say, proudly. And I get all bent out of shape because YES YOUR LANGUAGE IS HARD, it has me in fits. But any language is hard, and any language can be learned. 

I wish I could give my kids the gift of being bilingual -- for poetic and practical reasons alike. I wish I could say we will keep speaking Japanese to them after we leave, but I am supremely lazy: without the immersion, the imperative evaporates. 

I suspect that there are many more things I will miss after we go, even the infuriating and confounding, because they are also humbling. This is what happens in a cultural collision, and much of bad attitude here is an extension of my invisible cultural privilege in The United States. Being uncomfortable for 10 months is really a small price to pay.

Now, wait for the next post where I get my Midwestern accent back with a vengeance.


Monday, June 16, 2014

ad infinitum

Feels like I need to explode but can't: stretched and taut, straining, straining, all tension and no release. Painting is blue-balling me.

I see what I want in other people's work -- I get inspired about colors to use, ways to resolve my compositions, and then when I face my own canvas, I absolutely flounder and every mark I make is just a new dilemma.

I hem and haw and dither, making little jabs and swipes, hoping, desperate for a point of entry. Finally, 20 minutes before I have to quit for the day, I attack the piece with giant angry strokes, usually undoing all of the fussy small brushwork I'd just spent the previous three hours creating, and that's the only decent mark I'll make all day. I hate this equation.

It seems like this is not true art-making, this haphazard accumulation of mistakes and corrections, of tentative attempts and premature declarations. I have changed! No, fuck, still the same.

How can I see what I want, imagine what I want, and not be able to create it? What is in the way? 

Can't you just picture the God of Artists, bemused, tirelessly triaging: ranters to the left, manifestos to the right; blue-balled by your own ego, here's a sharp kick to the shins. 

It's been a season of fumbling, and griping about fumbling. And reluctance to write because of the griping. 

Don't I reconcile with myself every time? I make the peace offering, I put down the brass knuckles.


Thursday, June 12, 2014


The kids and I keep finding little chips of pottery -- at the river, mixed into the concrete on the way to the park, under the trees at Gosho. Treasures! the kids call out. I fancy that they're talismans of a sort. 

Yesterday we found a handful at the river, winking up from among the stones; today, several in the park. Walking further, I found even more, and it became too much for a poetic interpretaion. This is just broken pottery that gets mixed in with the gravel, wherever it is spread. 

Can it be both? Quotidien and meaningful? Divine interjection with a human explanation? 

Either way, I had the idea to paint them, to treat each chip as its own complete composition and see how they turn out. It seems fitting. I'm always drawn to that shade of indigo, how completely it is complimented by the creamy white. I'm just going to take that at face value and not read anything into it. 

Meanwhile: this piece is giving me fits.

The upper left corner in particular is being stubborn. Everything I've tried there looks silly.

I know I'm in a bind when I've divided the piece into quadrants like that, because then inevitably I start protecting the things I do like, when really the solution to that corner probably lies in changing something fundamental about the whole thing. 

It's getting hard to charge ahead, now that it's almost time to pack things up and head Stateside for the summer. Maybe by the time I unpack this one in the fall, I'll have found the missing piece and will know exactly what to do.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

flight pattern

I have a recurring dream about flying.

I have some kind of machine, sleek and simple like a saucer sled, and in the beginning I can lift up and take off without a thought. I can feel the surge of power propelling me upwards, the same as opening the throttle on a motorcycle: intimate, responsive, thrilling. As the dream goes on, though, the power drains out. It diminishes until I can only take off with great effort, or, finally, am left trip-stumbling along the ground, unable to make it go.

Each time I have the dream, the details are a little different -- the scenery from above, the mechanism of the flying machine -- but the trajectory is always the same. The exhilaration of the ability to take flight, followed by the crushing disappointment of losing it. 

I had this dream the other night, and it finally occured to me that it is exactly the feeling I have about painting. 

Sometimes it's so effortless and intuitive, I really do feel propelled forward, elated by the energy of it. 

The very next day I will expect to launch myself again, and will fall ass-over-teakettle into mistake after mistake until I resign for the day, cross-eyed and cursing. 

How does it work? How do I make the thing go? I have no idea. 

I talked to Jason about it, who is a writer, so he understands the fickleness of creative flow, and he said, "yeah, and you still have to start out each day expecting to fly."

It's taken for granted, this hallmark of making art. It's the quintessential cliche: ah, the struggle

I can appreciate it a day or two later -- it's just the nature of the thing, and there's no use in trying to understand it. But when I'm in the thick of it I want to break brushes, slash canvases, rend garments. I want to pull down the curtain and see everyone else's mistakes. 

It's lucky to fly, and it's out of my control. My work is to stand up again, arms extended.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

a good look

On the bus the other day I was sitting in the back near a small group of Australian tourists, and I eavesdropped as they chatted about their shopping exploits and temple visits. They were in high spirits, gabbing away and laughing loudly. 

My first impulse was to turn to the Japanese woman on my other side and apologize for them. I'm sorry -- they don't know how loud they are. On a Japanese bus, all is civilized and quiet: personal space is carefully demarcated, and conversations are discreet. In this setting, loud foreigners seem positively barbaric. 

I didn't want to be implicated by association. So I did that annoying thing that ex-pats do here to show they're not tourists: I avoided looking at my fellow foreigners, definitely did not smile, and waited for an opportunity to say something clever to my seat-mate in Japanese.

Then I realized what was happening. I was seeing myself reflected in them -- their English, their flushed faces, their gratuitous body language, in a way that I never see myself reflected in Japanese people. It was startling to recognize myself so suddenly, like looking into a mirror when I was expecting a window. 

This may be the most disconcerting thing about being a gaijin, there is a clear line between inside and outside, and an irreconcilable tension between wanting to be unremarkable on the one hand, but visible and recognizable on the other hand. 

Donald Richie sums up the feeling in The Inland Sea, "Like all Americans, like all romantics, I want to be loved -- somehow -- for my precious self alone."

I decided to let the Australians go ahead and be rowdy on the bus and enjoy their vacation, let the stereotypes go unchallenged. 

But it stuck with me the rest of the day: who is this self that needs reflecting? 


I spend so much time studying faces, reading the stories they hold, deciphering the light behind the mask.

When I paint, my concerns are purely about color and value and the quality of the brushstrokes -- rendering the marvel that is human skin, translating the planes of the features into a mosaic trompe l'oeil.

study for Amie, 8 x 10", oil on paper
When I'm done it's always somewhat of a surprise to see a person there. 

I study my own face too, sometimes with bemusement, sometimes with cool apprehension. As with my art, I am eager to know what others see, at the same time that I feel embarrassingly exposed. What makes a good painting? What makes a face open, like an invitation?

When I go looking for mirrors, I get windows.


Friday, May 9, 2014


It didn't take much to finish this piece... A quick swipe of yellow, a little extra white washed over the blue like a veil.

It's one of those pieces that, at the end, I wish I'd taken pictures throughout the process to remind myself how it evolved, but when I'm in the midst of it I can't be bothered. Who wants to format and sort and arrange a dozen images, each just incrementally different than the last? I should hire someone, maybe. 


In this case it would have been appropriate to document its accumulation of layers, though, because it's ABOUT layers. I guess all of my abstract work lately is about layers, but the title for this one came in a little flash and seemed so fitting: "The Irritation Creates the Pearl."

When shelled mollusks are threatened by injury or parasites or other foreign intrusion, they secrete calcium carbonate to coat and neutralize the irritant. It's the same distinctive irridescent substance that lines the shells themselves, called nacre. In the inner mantle, the soft tissue of the mollusk, around the irritation, the concentric layers of nacre build a pearl. I read that the mollusk will continue adding these layers for the rest of its life.

I wonder if we are capable of this, too... building beautiful concretions around our wounds and irritations. Scar tissue isn't merely defensive, after all, it has a certain luster. 

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense to have just the one image. The finished piece. It contains all its layers, some of which are secret. Just like yours and mine.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

as we go

The kids are back in school after their year-end break: Isla in a new class at kindergarten, and Auden, suddenly, impossibly, a First Grader. He barely made the cut-off date, starting just days after his 6th birthday. 

Now he walks to and from school with a group of other kids in the neighborhood. Even though we've been inching toward this kind of independence -- by sending him to the corner store for tea and snacks, and by not having heart attacks when he walks to the park by himself -- I am still finding it almost preposterous that we have reached this stage. I'm guessing the stomach roiling subsides after a while?

Isla likes to run around outside too, and hide in the narrow spaces between houses, in doorways, in the maze of narrow streets around our house. When I find her, she squeals with laughter, looking mischievous and triumphant. 

This is probably the safest place we could possible live, but I still have to fight a rising panic when I'm not entirely sure where they are. 

The other day they packed their carry-on suitcases full of toys and wheeled them out to the street, stopping at one friend's house, and then another, which I didn't discover until after I had gone full bore, riding my bicycle through the neighborhood, calling their names.

What kind of double-edged sword is this, anyway? The minute they stop needing me at their side every minute, I become freakishly masterful at conjuring catastrophic What-Ifs. 

Here they are, discussing their plans to travel to Bulgaria.

I want them to have this freedom, I want them to discover things on their own... Especially here, where they own what they find in a different way: words, connections, patterned pottery shards embedded in the concrete on the road to the park.

I suspect there's no other way to offer this except to practice as we go. So if you want me, kids, I'll be in the kitchen not having heart attacks.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

the essence of which

We all try to capture, in a picture. In hundreds of pictures. Humans out in droves, smitten with trees.

I laugh but I do it, too: aim my camera at one frothy pink cluster after another, delirious at the beauty of it.

I know the pictures will render them flat, stripping away the enchantment of the whole scene, which is in their dimension, their presence. But I can't help it, I am compelled, swooning. Clicking.

It's like being under a lacy waterfall, a lilting, living veil.

I walk through it, aware and existing and enthralled, and still I can't get enough. Is this why the pictures? To take it home and keep a part of it, no matter how small and approximate?

Even on our bike ride home, I am reluctant to quit the chase, drawn in by the honeyed light through the branches, caught in a blizzard of falling petals when the wind gusts over the river. How can we not feel beneficently blessed? 

The moment is already passing, cameras be damned. The trees are leafing out, the streets look like they've been littered with the most elegant confetti, such a party as it has been.