Monday, April 26, 2010

Wizard of Oz Coincidence Alert -- The Eye of an Artist

A fellow vendor at the North Coast Nature Festival this past Saturday strolled up to my table to chat for a minute, and I showed him a matted 8x10 of "Over the Rainbow." I explained that the day this photo was taken, August 25th, happened to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Wizard of Oz movie release. Sure looked like Munchkinland in the Land of Oz to me!

The vendor, an old hippie with a white beard and a long gray ponytail who sold metal lawn ornaments such as buzzards, sharks, and wine holders, laughed a loud geezerly laugh. "That's Jerusalem Artichoke!"

"Um, what's that? Is there any special meaning behind Jerusalem Artichoke?"

The vendor got a strange expression on his face like he didn't want to hurt my feelings. Seeing that my curiosity wasn't going to just go away, he almost blushed. "They're weeds."

As he walked away I thought to myself how amazing it was that the eye of an artist could transform what others saw as a weed into a magnificently wondrous flower from a realm existing over the rainbow.

Then it was time to close down for the night, to start all over again on Sunday morning. And here I was, needing to get to Mass. I had tracked down a church in a nearby city and went there Saturday evening. Posted on the bulletin board was a display featuring the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. One of the posters was marked "Awe and Wonder" and featured a picture of Niagrara Falls, ... complete with a rainbow. Another poster was marked "Courage" and featured, of all things, a picture of the Cowardly Lion receiving a medal. Looked like I had found the right church!

Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny, and I was walking to the Rocky River Nature Center for the second day of the art show sponsored by the Cleveland Metroparks. I first heard singing and then saw ... a happy little bluebird fly ... for real. So of course that got me thinking of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

The matted photo of Oz, since it had now become slightly embarrassing, was left to sit at the very bottom of the stack, hidden and out of sight. Until Sunday afternoon, when an art major sifted through each and every picture until she came face to face with Munchkinland in all its glory with the Jerusalem Artichoke in full bloom. I described to this kind and smiling lady about how the photo had been taken on the 70th anniversary of the Wizard of Oz, and she replied, "Yes, I see it. Isn't the eye of an artist amazing?"

After the show, I looked up "Jerusalem Artichoke" on Google. According to Wikipedia, it's a species of sunflower with an edible tuber that can be used as a root vegetable. It was also part of a pyramid scheme in the Midwest in the 1980's when speculators encouraged farmers to plant it, promising that this vegetable would soon become one of America's favorites.

What can I say? Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain ...

Monday, April 19, 2010

In Search of the Perfect Redbud Tree

The name of this photo, taken in 2005, is "Turning Home." It looks very much like being on a road that might lead to Hobbiton in the Shire of Middle Earth.

Every spring since I first started going down to the Hocking Hills of Southern Ohio, I've gone in search of the perfect redbud tree. And every spring is different. Even the same trees look different from year to year. And the feel of the air, whether it be a misty pastel oil painting or a joyously crisp warm sunshine blue. And the touch of light or shadow.

Then you realize that you are actually on a quest to dream the impossible dream, because what you are after is the memory of a moment in time whose proof physically exists only in the photos you took back then. That the road goes ever on and on ... and not back, because even though you try to go back, you are going forward in time. Such that past memory clashes with future vision in the present to form a double exposure of things as they currently are against a backdrop of things as you wanted them to be.

Last year my search led me to a dogwood tree instead.

This year is leading so far to questions. Should I drive allll the way down to the Hocking Hills on a round trip hundreds of miles long just to return to my favorite haunts where I know the redbud trees will appear however unfamiliarly? Should I even return to my beloved bed and breakfast for the occasion? (In any case, I would love to go any time of year even without an occasion just to visit the innkeepers who really do treat me like family after all these years.) Should I return to the region but purposely avoid the beckoning "tried and true" for a random roll of the dice on unknown roads? Or travel somewhere I have yet to have an inkling of?

Questions for Readers: Do you prefer vacation trips to the same well-loved places every year, or to explore something completely new? Wherever you go, do you have traditions you like to keep or things you like to see? Where would you go again wishing to find it the same as you left it before?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Unexplainable Discoveries

Several years ago in Southern Ohio, I visited a place called 7 Caves. It was an awesomely eerie experience seeing a sudden burst of sun illuminate a giant "X" formed by two crossed logs hanging in mid-air with such an unearthly glow ... Especially given the fitting color scheme of green and black. "The Truth Is Out There ... "

Came across an engraved brass cigarette lighter, too.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Awaiting Easter

This vision of April Soft Redbud appeared on a journey some years ago to the Hocking Hills of Ohio, on a painterly day veiled in diaphanous morning mist. I turned off the highway onto a small back road which led to a hidden world of beauty. So close to civilization, and yet my own discovery. You could hear the peacefulness in the drops of dew.

Horses grazed in a nearby pasture. One in particular came and stood patiently for me to get a picture. Needing to be brushed and dried with a towel, but still so cute. I simply named this one "Friend."

May everyone here have a Happy and Blessed Easter!