Saturday, June 16, 2012

Facing the Wind in Times of Trouble

"Sand Crane Dreams" (Some cranes think they are Indians)

I visited my daughter in Texas recently. Her husband is stationed at Fort Hood and is now in Afghanistan. I had visited them before; but on this trip, I focused my artist’s eye on the lookout for possible paintings.

The Lone Star State is all they say it is: “Big!” You can drive for hundreds of miles; thousands, and still be in Texas. My son-in-law’s jeep has a silver star on each hub cap. He’s a Texas boy, born and bred, but with Irish heritage. He’s the only blue-eyed, red haired Irishman I know with a Texas drawl.

There’s so much history in Texas. I wanted to stop and snap photos of antiquated windmills, dilapidated barns, museums, oil pumps, bayous, bogs, cowboys, cattle ranches and the “piney woods,” but we had a timetable. Our radio station blared cowboy music 24/7. My favorite refrain: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

A story in the “Daily Word” last month talked about the old Texas windmills; how in order to pump water, they had “to face into the wind.” This is a lesson many people have yet to learn. When problems come, they run away; either literally or by escape losing themselves to drugs, sex, or food addictions.

"Americana" (part of America's past)

If we could face the wind like these stalwart prairie soldiers do when troubles come, we’d all be better off. If we met our problems head on instead of running away, or drowning them in more sorrow and pain, we would endure. Of course, a little faith in a higher power never hurts.

Some of these windmills have been standing for hundreds of years. They have weathered tornadoes, droughts, blistering sun and abuse, yet still they stand.

A motel where we stayed in Oklahoma had a storm with straight line winds that put the fear of death in our bellies. The whistling of the windows sounded like the proverbial oncoming train, and we covered our heads and prayed. The next day as the storms moved northeast, the sky was filled with rolling clouds and spectacular form and color. The highway didn’t allow for camera stops, and I hoped my brain could remember the sights I witnessed.

At one point, I remember thinking “horses of the apocalypse.” Surrounded by a ring of swirling and fantastic clouds, my imagination could see horses rearing on their back hooves, and others standing their ground. Oh, how I longed to stop and take out my camera!

The Chickasaw Indians and the Shawnees have casinos in the area. I thought of their ancestors circling the white men and soldiers on horseback from the rims of the surrounding red cliffs. An abstract painting began to form composed of cloud patterns, Indian motifs, feathers from their headdresses and from the hawks that awaited their prey.

Titles swirled in my head: “Sky Lights” or “Prairie Skies.” I created not on canvas but in my head. Scenes flew before my eyes. Whether they will stay in memory long enough for me to capture them on paper is another matter.

Getting out of our own environment once in awhile can jar us from our complacency. It can open up new worlds of inspiration. Whether I actually capture and paint these memories or use my notes is inconsequential. I will never be the same again!