Rainworks

The day dawned hot and dry, with only a few wispy clouds scudding along the horizon. By midday, those clouds had dissipated, and the wind began to lay. Then, the passage of the sea breeze brought more clouds, and a sudden burst of rain.

Lasting no more than three or four minutes, the rain soaked the cypress trees outside my window; with the return of late afternoon sunlight, droplets of water began to sparkle and shine.

When a sudden flash of color caught my eye, I began to watch the interplay of water and light. Despite the absence of violet and indigo, the vibrant and endlessly changing colors of the droplets suggested nature had disassembled a rainbow, and hung it from my trees.

 

 

Comments always are welcome.

Texas Spring à la Monet

The words are Monet’s. The flowers — Bluebonnets, Toadflax, Phlox, Butterweed, Old Plainsman, Indian Paintbrush — are typically Texan.
 “Paint what you really see, not what you think you ought to see; not the object isolated as in a test tube, but the object enveloped in sunlight and atmosphere, with the blue dome of Heaven reflected in the shadows.”
“For me, the subject is of secondary importance: I want to convey what is alive between me and the subject.”
“I am chasing a dream, I want the unattainable. Other artists paint a bridge, a house, a boat; and that’s the end. They’ve finished. I want to paint the air which surrounds the bridge, the house, the boat; the beauty of the air in which these objects are located; and that is nothing short of impossible. If only I could satisfy myself with what is possible!”
“For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life – the light and the air which vary continually. For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere which gives subjects their true value.”
“When you go out to paint, try to forget what objects you have before you, a tree, a house, a field or whatever. Merely think here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact color and shape, until it gives your own naïve impression of the scene before you.”
The light constantly changes, and that alters the atmosphere and beauty of things every minute.”

 

Comments always are welcome.

The Tree With the Lights In It

Loblolly and Light

After spending a few hours on the Big Thicket’s Pitcher Plant and Turkey Creek trails last Sunday,  I nearly had regained the trailhead when I looked up, searching for bits of autumn color in the still mostly green trees.

Instead of color, a vision of what I first imagined to be an enormous orb-weaver’s web stopped me in my tracks. There was no larger-than-life spider lurking, of course. There was only a loblolly pine, and the sun, and a phenomenon I’d never before seen. Despite their apparently random distribution, the pine needles had transformed the light into a beautifully circular pattern; it was nature, not my camera, that had created the effect.

At the time, I didn’t think anything at all; I only stood, and wondered at the sight. Later, I remembered a favorite passage from Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and realized I’d been granted my own vision of a tree with the lights in it.

One day I was walking along Tinker Creek thinking of nothing at all and I saw the tree with the lights in it.  I saw the backyard cedar where the mourning doves roost charged and transfigured, each cell buzzing with flame.  I stood on the grass with the lights in it, grass that was wholly fire, utterly focused and utterly dreamed.  It was less like seeing than like being for the first time seen, knocked breathless by a powerful glance.  The lights of the fire abated, but I’m still spending the power. 
Gradually the lights went out in the cedar, the colors died, the cells unflamed and disappeared.  I was still ringing.  I had my whole life been a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck.  I have since only rarely seen the tree with the lights in it.  The vision comes and goes, mostly goes, but I live for it, for the moment when the mountains open and a new light roars in spate through the crack, and the mountains slam.

 

Comments always are welcome.
NOTE: I consulted Jim Ruebush, who taught physics for years, and here’s what he had to say about the effect: ““In the fully enlarged image, the pine needles radiate out in all directions. But, the only ones that reflect brightly to the camera direction are aligned circumfully (if that is not a word, it is now) to the sun. Their surfaces act like long narrow mirrors. Needles aligned any other way don’t reflect brightly to the camera.” Or, to the human eye!