After returning from Washington and spending one night at home, I spent the last week with my father and his girlfriend, after my father had a hip replacement. He's recovering well but it's a pretty big deal at his age; probably at any age.
Blogging and online activity came to a halt, as I had no access to the internet except at a fast food restaurant at the other end of town, and at the town library, where I couldn't make phone calls. I'm still feeling the inner quietness of a week spent mostly offline: an involuntary fast that I now feel almost reluctant to break. Coming back, although I missed reading your blogs and corresponding by email with a number of people, I realize that a slower pace feels much better to me, and much more supportive of who I am and what I want to do creatively. It's too easy to get speedy and reactive, in this noise- and word-filled space; pretty soon you don't even notice it. I don't want that to happen again.
In that rural, hilly part of New York State, the landscape speaks to me at a great depth, and something within me responds. I feel drawn into silence, wonder, and calmness the same way I was as a child. The air is fresh and filled with the songs and flight of birds; clouds build up and blow across the skies; the crops ripen; the seasons progress. You feel connected to the earth, from the sun on your head to the texture of grass, or glacial gravel, or plowed land under your feet; the smell of the earth fills your nostrils.
When I had a chance, as I did errands or had brief visits with old friends, I took the back roads and looked at the landscape, finding myself remade in the odd, rich compost of memories and current self-awareness. The socio-economic climate in Chenango and Madison County is depressed, though some businesses -- such as Chobani yogurt -- are growing. I was sad at a lot of what I saw, and sad about current politics that have left so many people feeling abandoned, helpless, lost, and despairing. I was stunned by stories I heard about domestic violence and horrific car accidents; I clutched at every bit of good news and opportunity. But nature itself -- so glorious in the late autumn -- still gave its gifts to me. I came home with ideas for new artwork, and gratitude that seems fitting on this day when Canada thanks the earth for its abundance and beauty.