There are eight million artist stories in the city. This is mine. This is “I Think I’ll Take A Walk.”
Another post for my so-called “Art” blog is due tomorrow, Thursday, as I sit here in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon – unemployed, under-inspired, uninvolved, and under no illusion that I have much, if anything, to say. But, here is some good news. I heard on a newscast the other day, as I was scrolling by with the clicker, that there are 64,000,000 blogs in the world today. So the chances of anyone suffering because my blog isn’t up to snuff this week seem pretty minimal.
My wife Susan, step-daughter Marie, and I returned from four days and three nights at the Oregon coast yesterday, the temperature ratcheting up by 20 degrees or so as we moved inland, over the coastal mountain range, and back to the big city. They were both happier to get back than me. Too much time away from normalcy – email, Facebook, visiting friends, work, social plans, the things people rightly miss after a while. For me, other than the fleeting hope that I would see a new painting or greeting card sale notice on gmail, and of course the chance to catch up on four days of fun Red Sox tid bits, that list of things to be missed didn’t apply. I wanted to stay at the beach. I always want to stay at the beach. I will say it again. I always want to stay at the beach.
Originally I was going to write a blog post called “Different Light”, because I mentioned to Susan yesterday morning before the depressing packing and cleaning time that the light is different by the ocean. There is a different quality to the light. It sparkles in some kind of reflective, brilliant way, a light that cannot be found inland. Even in places with large rivers, like Portland. Maybe this is a looking through artist eyes. It is well known in the artist community of the country, probably the world, that Provincetown, Massachusetts, at the very tip of Cape Cod, has long been a draw to artists because of it’s light. That is wonderful for artists living in Ptown, as it is called, though when I was running a permanent housing program for the AIDS Support Group in Ptown I wasn’t an artist, not a painter anyway, so I didn’t have all-the-way artist eyes to look through.
But this isn’t the point, because I decided against a “Different Light” post. Over the last couple of weeks, actually, I have been thinking a lot about the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. A lot. And I thought I would write this week’s post about that – about the state of our states in these United States, about race relations, about how we live with, or don’t live with, one another. About what our goals should be, instead of what they always are. I was going to start that post like this: “At the risk of alienating family and friends…..” because that is just what would have happened. I have family members who I love dearly with a far different view from mine. I have friends, especially lots of folks on Facebook, including a bunch who have helped me to live and stay sober all these many years, who just don’t see things the way I do. Some of that I have found out on and through Facebook. I guess, ultimately, I decided not to write my piece because I don’t feel ready, the right words and phrases and images haven’t shown up yet. I’ll have to get to that when they do.
So, instead, I have decided, only a few moments ago as I sit here in the Portland heat, a long summer hanging on, to write about a walk I took Sunday afternoon, just above the high tide line north of Pacific City on the Oregon coast, at a little community called Tierra Del Mar. Most of my long walks while at the coast were during low tide, when six hours of ocean pulling back left a football field wide expanse of packed sand, easy to walk on. But Sunday afternoon, when I was so moved, the tide was high and almost all the sand was soft, and I found myself walking right next to the ends of waves, one leg slightly lower than the other on the tide going out incline. So I walked to the edge of the Pacific and headed
north, toward a Cape Lookout that has played hide and seek within billowing low-hung clouds ever since we arrived. I walked past the last of the houses and past the scrub forest growth with it’s mystery path, all the way to where the ocean pushes through the sand and dune spit to curl around behind and create Sand Lake and the natural area of Whalen Island. Where I couldn’t walk any further.
It’s a long walk, especially in semi-gooey sand and with one leg lower than the other, never mind necessary interruptions to think about the possibilities of being all alone out there with wild bears, never mind a surprise tsunami. At the very end I could hear across the water the growling of fast-moving ATVs at the Sand Lake Recreation Area with it’s big dunes, and see people wading in the water by Whalen Island, maybe crabbing or oystering, or bathing for all I know. I walked along the small dunes a little, and it is a great thing when the only footprints beside yours belong to birds, thought about painting and took a bunch of photos I hoped I could use for inspiration, and eventually turned around and headed back, a little more beach on which to walk now.
And on the walk back I thought about my thoughts about Ferguson, Missouri, and about living by the seashore, with it’s different light and mantra-like wave after wave, about the strange shapes of fog dashing in over Cape Lookout and Haystack Rock down the beach at Cape Kiwanda. Of course I thought about the Red Sox. I mean, come on. I thought about cows, an animal I truly love, and painting them. I thought about being unemployed, and being a struggling artist, and about an exotic coffee shop short story that, now that my wife had found the punctuation mistakes, I would be sending in in hopes of inclusion in a sci-fi anthology. And about a brand new feature story about me, yours truly, in a Portland arts magazine called Project Poppycock.
Not so much about that though. More like writing projects and painting projects and husband projects and abundance versus scarcity thinking and living near the ocean, how much I love the sounds of seagulls, and how we haven’t figured out yet – with all the brain power and general good will in this country – how to treat each other with decency. And about the Red Sox.