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Archive for the ‘Savoring Summer’ Category

Blood Moon 1

Two nights ago, around 12:30 a.m., I woke up and as I often do in summer, wandered into our living room to open the patio door and step out to enjoy our nocturnal garden and courtyard.  I was “stun-gunned” by the sight that greeted me:  a blood red moon rising in a bluish purple and red sky, over the wildlife preserve to the east beyond our park.  I should have run for the camera, but—to employ a corny fictional expression—I stood transfixed.

The red moon was not fiction.  In the sky, traces of distant lightning flashed.  Minutes later the lightning moved in close, followed by gentle thunder and a steady, quiet rain which lasted until dawn.  Meanwhile, I went back to bed, thinking the red color had something to do with the stormy atmosphere—not surprising given our infamous SE Wisconsin summer humidity.  The previous day had been a scorcher.

The next day I couldn’t get that mysterious and almost eerie scene out of my mind, and I began trying to capture the experience of that sky at my paint table.  Above is my first attempt.  As I worked, I recalled reading in the Bible about blood moons.  Joel 2:31 states:  “The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.”

Some preachers have connected recent blood moons with immediate fulfillment of the End Times prophecy.  But many diligent Bible scholars agree that this concept does not hold water.  In his 2014-published book, BLOOD MOON RISING, Mark Hitchcock wrote:  “. . . don’t get caught up or carried away in any speculation about some great cataclysmic event in 2015 surrounding the appearance of the blood moons.”

Obviously we are now after the fact of 2015, and although filled with plenty of global tragedy 2015 was very sadly just like many other years—unless you call the appearance of Donald Trump in the political circus a “great cataclysmic event”.  (He may think he is exactly that, but I for one do not.)

Regardless, the sight of a blood moon was a rare privilege which I’ve never before experienced, and may never enjoy again.  I did a bit of GOOGLING on the subject, and see that the June, 2016 phenomenon has something to do with the full moon occurring around summer solstice.  Not being a scientist, I can’t divulge any more than that from what I read—except that the Algonquin Indians called the June full moon the “Strawberry Moon”, not due to color but rather for the obvious reason of ripening strawberries.  That was an understandable and enjoyable bit of information.

Actually the June moon I witnessed did look something like a huge strawberry.  My subsequent attempts to improve the above “start” of a painting are even worse than the first, and I now wish I’d quit while I was ahead.  Here are Blood Moons 2 and 3:

Blood Moon 2

Blood Moon 3

Pretty awful.  I should have known not to round out the moon and create variety in the sky with (of all things) yellow and blue paint.  Those colors on top of the red turned the sky a yucky brown.  Duh!  Yellow and blue make green, and green plus red equals brown!  My great grandkids know that, because I demonstrated it for them.

I’ll keep working on this, and if not satisfied I’ll simply begin again.  Maybe I’ll let it all dry, and then try remedying the mess by adding water soluble oils.  Artist Barbara Nechis shares that she always finishes a painting, even when she knows it isn’t going well.  She finds that working on a perceived failure gives her the freedom to attack it wholeheartedly—and sometimes the results are surprisingly acceptable.  Barbara encourages her readers (and DVD viewers) by adding “It’s only a piece of paper”.   🙂

So I will continue messing about with my piece of paper, or I’ll start a new one of the blood moon.  If I come up with something frame-able, I’ll post it on this blog.  But please do not hold your breathe.  If you never see this effort again, we’ll move on to something else—maybe more flowers.

Wise artist, Barbara Nechis has also said, “When we try to compete with nature, nature always wins.”

Margaret L. Been, June 27th, 2016

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I have never been able to appreciate the dilemma of individuals who say, “I’d like to write, but don’t know what to write about.”  My answer is, “You have a life!  So write your life!  Write about the people and places you love!”

Over the last six years, since I began painting, I’ve often recalled my own advice!  Although I’d love to paint the people I love, alas.  My skills are inadequate, at least at this point.  But I can, have, and continually do paint the places I love.

You will recognize the above paintings as representative of “Out West”.  That region of our nation is dear to my heart— especially Colorado (my “second home”), plus New Mexico and Northern Arizona (my “adopted second homes”).

Next you will see glimpses of a part of my actual lifelong home, known to most Wisconsinites as “Up North”:

And here is my current home in Southern Wisconsin. ↓ These renderings were inspired by life inside and outdoors in our beloved Nashotah:

So there you have it.  I’ll never run out of excitement over the places I love—past and present!  And “future” is going to be the most exciting of all!  But my finite mind cannot begin to comprehend how to depict the new Heaven and earth!  I’ll just have to wait and see!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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Our outside thermometer registered 105° F this afternoon, in the sun.  Later in the day, near sunset, the reading dropped to 100°.  Perhaps the temperature gage (not showing in the above photo) is a bit off, as it was a “cheapie” sale purchase which I bought mainly because the instrument is encased in a cute crow which presides over that area of garden.  But give or take a little, 100° is HOT!

Yesterday Joe and I did something totally unprecedented for us:  we turned on our air conditioning.  We never had AC before we moved to our present home, and certainly never believed that we needed it.  For 30 years we had deep woods homes with large windows shaded by commodious overhangs, and rooms aired by ceiling fans.  Now we have plenty of lovely trees, but no deep woods on our side of the park.  We do have a ceiling fan in each room here, helpful but suddenly not quite helpful enough.  So we are running the AC.

At first it seemed downright eerie to me, being encased indoors with all of beautiful nature barred by closed windows and doors.  But every time I step outside, I realize that nature has gone a bit berserk.  Given the heat and Joe’s heart condition, cooler air has become a priority for us.

Still, we have early mornings and evenings to live outside.  For 2 mornings, I’ve pulled weeds and watered gardens at 6:00 a. m. when the thermometer registered a reasonable 75°.  At night I lie on the patio lounge for awhile, watching fireflies and basking in the warm night air which is pleasant in the dark.  (Happily, we have no mosquitoes!)

For two days I’ve been reflecting on our pioneer history, trying to imagine what it was like traveling west in a wagon train through places like Kansas and Death Valley, California.  Those intrepid souls contended not only with heat (or cold!) but with brutal winds, dust, potential hunger and thirst, realities of sickness and death on the trail without the comfort of a home, arduous labor, and the ominous possibility of getting scalped! 

I’m as comfort-loving as a cat!  I think I might have preferred to stay “back east” in a shady little town, rather than to venture into the unknown!  Yet who knows?  I love to read about the American West.  If I’d been a young wife in the mid 1800s I just might have gone there with my man!

Meanwhile if weather promises count, we’ll experience relief in the next 24 hours.  A forecast of 85° sounds WONDERFUL.  If and when that happens we’ll turn off the AC, throw open the windows and doors, breathe the outside air, and live beside our garden once more. 

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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Virginia creeper creeps up 2 trellises, reaching for the sky.  Also called woodbine and Engleman ivy, Virgina creeper is my favorite name for this hardy vine because that is what it’s called in English novels.  Behind the creeper on the left, a grapevine thrives—amazingly because it scarcely gets any sun on that wall.

The rest of the plot is packed with numerous perennials and herbs.  Lavender, sage, chamomile, chives, mint—all back from last year—fill our lives indoors and out.

Around the corner—in my garden pictured below—lemon thyme, rosemary, sweet basil, and additional ubiquitous mint rejoice with another grapevine, mums, hydrangea, daisies and other perennials whose names I’ve forgotten.  Whereas the above garden is private just outside our living room, my below-pictured garden can be enjoyed by anyone who walks on the public sidewalk which borders the plot.  Get those delphiniums!  They are nearly finished, yet still gorgeous.

I wonder if those who live where things grow all year can possibly appreciate the fleeting garden weeks as much as we do here in the north.  The cycle of blooming goes so fast, it’s breathtaking.  Roses were blooming in a parkside garden last week.  Now they are gone.  My daisies are just opening.  After their season in the sun, they’ll fade and give way to black-eyed Susans.  The mums will follow, vibrant yet poignant, signalling that the 2011 glory days are nearing a close. 

Bird song will diminish to an occasional whisper.  That final, blatant burst of color will explode in the sumac, goldenrod, wild asters, maples, and oaks—and then, silence again.  Beautiful Wisconsin.  We store the garden moments in our hearts, against whatever lies ahead.

 

Margaret L. Been ©2011

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