Monday, September 21, 2009

More paddling

Paddling, noticing. Noticing that I was judging myself. "Why am I moving so slowly?" Wondering why I think I need to get anywhere on the pond any faster than I am. I have no where to go. When I'm about to finish my paddle, as I round the bend to where I can see the dock, a young woman seemingly appears out of nowhere, moving fast. I say hello, then catch myself watching her as she moves past me and then cuts a tight circle, heads back, and is on land before I am even halfway there myself. I'm exploring the edges of the pond, but I'm also thinking about how agile and young she is, and what I might be "doing wrong." Maybe I'm doing nothing wrong.

I paddle slowly and quietly. I notice that when I'm not paying attention, I hit the boat with the paddle. The sound is an alarm. Wake up!

My mind is all over the place today. Edgy and tired, as I headed out, the sun was right in my face. Instead of enjoying its warmth, I found it bothersome, like driving into the light. I tried to move out fast and enjoy the return trip. Then I noticed I had forgotten about having the sun in my eyes. The pond had enchanted me, once again, and I had lost myself in looking at the colors, just a bit different than last time.

The leaves are turning, but instead of becoming brighter, they seem as if they're only fading. I analyzed the colors, trying to burn them into my memory. The water is not blue. It is almost black even though it is shallow. The pond is filled with mysteries. Tree limbs of all sizes and ages. A huge rusted piece of farm equipment. Spongy plants that live beneath the surface. Pond grasses that are almost bright red where they emerge from the water. Fish that dart away before I can see them. Unopened lilies that may never open this season.

I went out today thinking I'd be quick about it, but I can't be quick about it. An hour and a half was a short survey of the pond, but it was long enough to let my mind calm itself. I'm not sure what made me feel so harried. Perhaps it was only running errands, running a bit late for an appointment, seeing the gas light come on when I was only halfway to a place to fill the tank, going to drive-through windows so I could get home sooner, not getting home soon enough, being overdressed on a warm day, chewing gum quickly, having hot flashes, life.

Painting note: One third of Monet's "Water Lilies" triptych. When you click on the link, you'll see the colors look completely different. The only way to really experience this painting properly is in person.

My little painting from the other day, directly below, now seems garish, so I need to remind myself that when I did it, I felt it captured what I felt and saw, imperfectly, but well enough.


Anonymous said...

I like how you describe your pond, Julie. Even reading about it is akin to meditation. I know what you mean that every time you go it's a little different. I do a lot of hiking, mostly on the same trail, and every time I go I'm surprised at how it's never the same place twice. The differences are subtle but it's enough to keep me interested. And the sky is always a brand new sky.

Anonymous said...

And these are both beautiful images, for water has so many personalities. Yours is full of light and energy, water lilies is a painting of a dream.
I remember looking at a room full of water lilies paintings at Monet's museum in Paris... they were all different. He was a master of subtlety, I love how he was endlessly fascinated by all the changing states of one particular landscape or building. It may sound strange but when I look at his work I feel like I understand the meaning of zen.

Julie H. Rose said...

"Understanding zen" when viewing Monet's work in person, well, it makes sense to me. Monet captured the reality of nature and his work carries us along if we allow it to.