WHENI started the day’s session, I sat on a little red folding stool I carry out with me in my backpack, my bare feet on dry sand. But in nature the only constant is change. Within an hour and a half the warm salt water was rising, and I had to fold up the stool and stand. No big deal. When I’m really on a roll, there’s very little that’s going to stop me. But by this point the tide was coming in fast, and seemed to be pouring in from countless different sharp angles into one relatively small root-tangled area, and thus forced to do battle before resolving into calm. Small waves suddenly crested and splashed all around, an undeniably insistent and choppy edge to them.
There is very little reasoning with it, really. Nature’s saying “Go,” finally, and I respect her wisdom. You have to, or she’ll clobber you over the head! Then it’s a matter of scrambling to pick up the occasional tube of paint or brush that is now tumbling around in warm salt water, inching away, grabbing the backpack and getting everything up higher, higher still, into the trees, and packing up. And then stumbling back toward the beach, where wet sands finally claim that old flip-flop that wasn’t any good anyway. The toe strap snaps on that one, and its partner is immediately lost in primeval muck, with a loud wet smack. And man! does that oil paint get on everything! “I’m a mess,” I think to myself, panting, almost tipping as I crouch now and then under head-level branches carrying my wet heavy backpack, trying to keep my canvas from taking sail, navigating my metal easel like some forlorn Don Quijote with no Sancho Panza in sight.
And you know what? I wouldn’t trade a second of it. For anything.
I carry away a new painting, in progress, and the memory of a moment strangely precious. I’ve long since made it to the car and made it safely home. And now, in the instant between that memory and the future session I anticipate, I feel to say, “Thank you, God, for all of my many many blessings.”