"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Oklahoma moonrise, watercolor challenge

Oklahoma Moonrise, 5 by 7 watercolor, 300 Lb. d'Arches
"There's a full moon risin'"
             --"Harvest Moon, " Neil Young
Moonrise on the Great Plains turns the ordinary into magic.
What causes tides at sea, brings tides of emotions on land, marking not just months, but  memories, back as far as you can remember.
No wonder we find so mucnh to wonder about in moonlight.
"Many moons ago" in Indian country gets you back to when people were more connected to the land and nature, marking more than just time, but lives.
Today's #WorldWatercolorMonth, Day 9 challenge.
It's no accident that I've written about and painted moon scenes many times on this blog (Type in "moon" and you'll see years of posts). And then there's this short obviously biographical chapter in an unfinished novel.
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"Time for the Moon"

 “Time for the moon.” He rose, poured a last cup of coffee, grabbed his binoculars off the kitchen cabinet, and opened the back door.

The swollen moon inched above the silhouetted house-tops and trees, as he walked out on the wooden deck with the coffee and binoculars.

“The first time I remember seeing Aunt Sissie was when she showed me the moon,” he thought, putting the coffee down on a table, and lifting the 7 x 50 binoculars to his eyes as he twisted the focus ring.

At least, he thought he remembered the dark shadows of summer-thick bushes and trees rising above him on the sidewalk,  the black bulk of nearby buildings framing a few yellow-lit apartment windows, the huge round silver-white face in the dark Dallas sky reflecting its light off her equally round, kind face.

“Maybe it’s just that I heard Mom and Dad tell me about it; how Sissie would take me for a night-time walk and show me the moon; how I’d reach my little hands and stubby fingers for it; and how she’d tell Mom, ‘Well, Faye, get it for him.’”

The full moon always made him talk to himself, he thought.  “I know they told me Aunt Sissie would take me out in a baby carried during that summer of 1944, but seeing the moon seems fresher somehow. Mom and Dad might have told me about it, but they wouldn’t add the details about the shawls and lights.

“But when someone pays you a lot of attention at that age, and in later years you hear your folks talk about it, and then, decades later, when you go back to view the old black and white snapshots crowding family albums, what you remember and what you’ve heard sort of melt together, like the moonlight reflecting on her face that night in Dallas.”

Aunt Sissie was his favorite aunt, and even now, years after she died of cancer, when the moon jogged his memory, his throat thickened, and his eyes would water.

“Let him reach for it, Miss Vera,” was his mother’s reply to the quip about getting the moon for him. That’s what Sissie told him years later.

“Seems like you’ve been reaching every since,” she chuckled. He didn’t know if it was a blessing or a curse, or both. Maybe that was the key. Always reaching, challenged by some remote destination; yet, once attained, never satisfied. Easily bored when the newness wore off and routine set in. A journalist’s life was at once a sop and a sentence.

He treasured the full moon and moonlight, especially shining through the edges of swiftly moving clouds, or circled through the haze of thin high ice-clouds. The Apollo missions years ago had captivated him. Now he rarely let a month go by without viewing the acne-scarred face through his binoculars. The full moon provoked his imagination, his memories, his fantasies, helping him write.

The moon seemed to transform everything with a magic glow--landscapes, buildings, plants, smooth human skin--things he could never quite get enough of--things he couldn’t seem to quite reach and possess, any more than he could reach the moon. But he kept reaching like the little boy who had vainly reached to touch the strange light in the sky.

“It pulls me like the tide.” His tight spinal muscles relaxed as he lowered the binoculars and sipped the coffee. “People would think I’m crazy if they knew how I anticipate the full moon. I deserve the moon.”

He heard the phone ringing inside the house, interrupting his thoughts, demanding his attention and time and no telling what else. Resentfully, turning to go in, he glanced at the sky once more. “C’mon, babe, I want you.”



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