Saturday, October 19, 2013

Beach Walking

The coast has always been ours.  She's a Florida girl by birth, raised between the warm tranquility of Gulf Coast beaches and the raucous waves of the mighty Atlantic. Some of her very first steps were in the white sands of Sanibel.  Now living across the Gulf in Texas, the murky waters of Galveston call us home like the proverbial moth to flame.   Like me, being raised on the Connecticut coast, the beach is our soul soother.  No matter the weather, our feet hit the sand in search of inspiration and rejuvenation. 
As much as Kev and I struggle with our empty nest, Emily is having a difficult adjustment to life outside the nest.  College classes, autonomy, and living 300 miles away is taxing and Emily's mind hit overload in recent days.  So this weekend she made the trek home and we immediately hit the shore.
Walking in the waves, picking at half torn shells washing ashore, the worldly woes fall away.  There is no need for words, no need to hash out life's problems.  Only the need to be remains.
On the beach words are useless.  We both see the dolphins playing in the wake, the gulls wading patiently. We both understand the beauty of this landscape. 
To interpret it verbally removes its magic. So we stand together absorbing the world, healing in its simple complexity.
These are the days I treasure.  Watching Emily grow into her own reasoning.  I see so much of Kev in her, and so much of myself.  And though there are essays of logical advice I want to give her I know this is my time to be still.  To just be there as she figures it out for herself.  Hoping she will take flight.  Knowing she will soar.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Hidden Beauty of Texas Painted Churches

Traveling the back roads of Texas is always a serene experience.  Miles of curving pastures, endless sky and cows standing hillside placid like decoys.  With College Girl 300 miles away, I have lots of new roads to explore.  The roads between Houston and San Antonio are loaded with painted churches; quaint country churches so unassuming their exteriors speak to the simplicities of frontier life. Upon opening the doors, one is transported to the rich texture and vibrant beauty of the Czech immigrants who infused the ordinary with their homeland traditions.
Saints Cyril and Methodius Church marks one's arrival in Dubina, Texas.  Eight miles north of I-10, on FM 1383, Dubina is a ghost town whose charm has never worn off. Stopping by this past Saturday, the clouds loomed with a threat of rain but inside the church was prepared for a wedding so treading past the last pew was not allowed.  I can only imagine how spectacular the starry ceiling looks in the evening glow!
Aside from the church, reception hall and a few meticulously kept houses, the evidence of former prosperity lies behind barbed wire.  The cotton gin and blacksmith shop are kept at safe distance, protected from ghost seekers.
Continuing along Farm Road 1383, Ammannsville sits three miles NW of Dubina and is home to Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church
The drive between Dubina and Ammannsville will turn any city dweller in to country-drooling Texan in less than  one sharp curve.  The hillsides give way to panoramic views and well preserved farm houses look like pages from Country Living. But anyone who has lived the country life knows it's not all front porch sitting.  It's hard work with little reward.
And when Mother Nature denies the farm lands rain, crops are in danger.  In this cotton-rich country this year's drought has devastated the yield. 
Ammannsville's painted church is pink heaven inside.  Floral motifs frame every ceiling panel and stained glass windows block out all negativity.  The pastel palette lightens the mood and offers hope, rebirth and good spirits to all who enter.
I was alone in the church for a good while, taking a moment to pray, and longer moments to listen.  The absolute silence was musical and I was reluctant to leave.  I imagined this small church filled with song from the choir loft, voices in praise softly collecting within the walls. 
Generations, decades, lives welcomed, unions consecrated, and souls passing.  All mingling in the songs, the silence, the hopes and prayers of those who congregate in these smallest works of Texas art still standing in honor and glory to their founders.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Two Photographers, One Car

I've been down this road before. Bright blue skies, wide open Texas in seasonal change, one map, 4 cameras, one brand new convertible, and one husband (also a photographer)....... in the driver's seat.  Oh he's left me on the road before! Taking that slow roll away as I am knee deep in wild flowers waiting for the breeze to stop blowing my perfect shot out of focus. Expecting peace on today's drive was unrealistic at best but we hit the road with good intentions.
Texas reveals her autumn with subtlety.  Sturdy yellow flowers rise in rolling pastures, green crops are harvested leaving brown stubs behind, and tractors recline with ease along barn sides.  Even barbed wire fences take on a rusted orange hue. 
As we twist through empty county roads, the perfect shot is around every corner.  The trouble is knowing where to stop.  I know the spot instinctively.  I notice small details, the tree line opening, the lone remaining corn stalk spared, or the longhorn whose cinnamon coat catches the afternoon sun. 
  My husband is a big picture guy.  He jokes he's "the one who knows the perfect shot". So when I say "here"!  He keeps rolling.  Inching along at 5 mph as my shot gets smaller in my rear view.  We playfully bicker away another 300 feet of asphalt.  And when he finally says "here's the shot"- I am hoofing it back to my muse while he checks his phone.  (Smoke billowing from my ears.)
I get my revenge when I am in the driver's seat.  There's no stop I won't make, no U-turn too sharp for the right composition in nature.   Loose pit bulls threatening that shot of the bayou curving off?  No problem!  And those antique stores my husband slows near and asks, unimpressed, "Really?  You want to stop here?" as he rolls on by.....  Oh yeah!  I'm stopping when I am behind the wheel.
 No wonder our photo explores wear us out!  But after 20 years, we've got this photo sharing thing figured out.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Crowded Workbasket

It's that time of year again! My fingers are dye-stained and stitches are flying as I create to keep up with demand.  Studio work reigns supreme and my writing cravings simply have to wait.  But I am not complaining! 
 The baskets are full of critters in all sorts of unfinished stages!  Friendly basket banter can be overheard as Halloween peeps face off with Holiday mice and snowmen.
The mice are natural wisecrackers, hiding behind innocent smiles.
Those creations without mouths wait patiently, contemplating future retorts.

This fall I have the privilege of selling my goods at Hendley Market and this batch of pumpkins is excited to join the store shenanigans! It won't be long before the rest of their workbasket buddies join them in Galveston!