Companionship, egg tempera painting

Companionship, egg tempera painting

I still can’t remember the road I was on, nor the name and even less where it was in the North Carolina mountains.

Know it was spring and after once discovering the elusive Charolais cows, I had my eyes peeled for them. I do recall rounding a curve and there being a cemetery on a shady hill. Curious to see how old it was, I turned up the rutted drive and parked under a pair of time-twisted cedar trees. My daughter and I share a trait for reading old epitaphs. When my twins were little, we used to play a game called no money fun. In one of them we made rubbings from ancient, weathered headstones. You’ve probably  heard of one of my favorite inscriptions. “I told em’ I was sick.”

Coming around a large granite monument I spotted a flash of white in the pasture across the road. Cows? Could they be Charolais? They weren’t there earlier. A farmer walked along the fenced lane, bucket in hand.

Scampering down the hill I went across the road, looking both ways twice lest I end up back on that hill permanently. Sometimes I forget my surroundings when enthralled with a scene.

I made some sketches for this small egg tempera painting, Companionship. It’s 8 x 8 inches, framed in silver,  and after a bit more paint, will be available at Crossnore Gallery.

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tomatoes-2008

July organic mountain tomatoes

The Year of the Garden

We made ready the land.
I sawed the boards and boxed the beds,
filled them with hope and alluvial soil asleep
in moccasin dreams of ancestral Cherokee children.
After consulting the Old Farmers Almanac she declared,
we will sow by the moon in this ancient mountain rainforest,
an organic garden—beans, squash and zucchini.
Let’s try different things, how about heirloom tomatoes?
We soon learned why hardly anyone grows heirloom tomatoes.
But the others exploded, succulent, sun warmed, bursting orbs,
a crimson rebirth of Time’s oldest fire mirrored in tender flesh.
Joy each morning returning, the rich discovery of ripe fruit,
dewy, reddening quicker than we could pick em.’
They rolled around the rustic table by the fireplace,
a succession of plump sirens consuming the kitchen counter.

When Jeremiah the young, confident, country plumber came,
we chatted against the wood railing above the stone wall,
saturated in bird song, pleasant talk, and new mown grass.
Morning sunbeams, silvery messengers, made lace of walnut leaves.
Judging our garden with admiration, he drawled,
“em are some good lookin’ maters.”
Then he moseyed to his truck, returned, cradling his Mossberg,
shouldered it and shot a snake in the pond. “Ahh don’t like snakes,”
drifted from his lips like cirrus smoke from the barrel of his gun.
But the corn, oh! We laughed when the corn by the 4th of July
was still only ankle high, and later by first frost,
shyly concealed kernels small as deer teeth.

Near sundown it rained on that Friday the 4th.
After Mexican dinner in our small mountain town,
we gathered with families at the ball field by the river.
Twilight the rain cleared, darkness, the expectant murmurs.
Down on the pitchers mound volunteer firemen huddled,
a flash, a rocket whistled over our heads.
We were so close in the thunder and light.
Fiery rainbows of stars showered all around us.
It’s a wonder the ole boys didn’t set house and hair afire!

These pictures all came to me in flashes, in Florida today,
on the 4th of July, emptying the art trailer on other heart land.
Knocked my head standing up, when I found in a box unopened till
this seventh summer, a Valentine note, composed the year of the garden.
Seven lines handwritten in juicy red, succulent like the flesh
of the tomatoes reaped that summer, on the slope by the pond,
seven miles outside of that little town in the mountains.
Seven lines distilled, dispelled time inside that sauna-like hull.
Suddenly the taste of those luscious tomatoes in my mouth.
Wet, dripping pure sunshine, spring water, slipping across
the oceans and mountains of time and undreamt dreams.
In the time of the garden on Independence Day
under an eternal, blue-smoked, mountain sky,
I believed in the destiny of stars.

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Where We Dream

by Daniel Ambrose on June 28, 2015

Study for Where We Dream, egg tempera painting by Daniel Ambrose

“In your light, I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.” — Rumi

I carried some ideas with me to Maine last summer. Remaining in the region around Port Clyde, I roamed the rocky shore processing my thoughts, resolving plans. It’s easy to fall into routine. Complacency is subtle and slips over you like a comforting cashmere blanket. Sometimes the life can leak out of you.

The spark is flickering but the coals still burn with intense, quiet passion. Fun was needed. Dreams and the sense of moving forward together was needed. Moving forward and deeper. A turning from fear. Shout and dance yes to life!

I searched for subjects to express my dreams and thoughts. I felt the power of the younger man, vigor and visions swelling in me.

Then I got a hard blow. A lesson in the mystery of life. It still makes no sense to me. So I’m exploring dreams and myths for divine inspiration. Robert Johnson wrote in his book the Fisher King, “no one ever succeeded in finding a reason for living by the reasoning process.”

You bring meaning to life. Art is a good place to begin. Love is a beautiful place to start. Love is a mystery worth building on. You can build a rich life upon it like a granite rock rising from the sea, or let it weaken in the capricious winds of life.

I am on this rock with you, in the warm summer light, a cool breeze ripples the cobalt blue water. Out there a sailboat glides by an island into the golden light. This is where I long to be.

We all need a break from the cares of the world and to find a place.

Where we dream.

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