One week in. One week of new sights and the big mountains and a new place with new birds and new bugs and all new people, and I’m already well settled enough to think about “getting out of town”. I came from California up over the Sierras and across empty dry Nevada and Utah that wasn’t much different until you reach the Eastern edge and huge red rocks come bursting up and like a fool I listened to the end of a podcast and didn’t get the full feel of the rocks, thinking like I was the whole trip that I’ll be back some day with time to stop and sit and feel, but for now I’ve got to get through and get there so just keep on driving.
Then Colorado and suddenly there was green and rolling hills that looked like you could walk through barefoot and water running through in great roiling brown rivers and real live streams that probably had fish and then I saw horses brown and shining with green all around them and the big mountains booming behind them. I cheered and called to the horses and felt the excitement of seeing them and imagining them running and how beautiful they were—more beautiful and elegant than they need to be—extra beauty and elegance and their flowing hair just to remind you of higher things. Reds and blues popping out from the green making me think of pictures and all around the big open air and clear light and a clean feeling.
I found Elsewhere just as easily as I thought I might, green house standing like a picture on the side of the main road I drove up slowly and parked right in front and got out and took my time moving in to the quiet open and cool house and finding my little Gingerbread House behind, just as big as it needed to be with windows in all the right spots and my stuff fit in just fine.
I walked in search of a spot to swim carrying a little towel and following the ditch thinking it was a creek, and finally realizing it wouldn’t turn into a swimming hole I decided dipping my toes and getting the silty mud on my feet was enough and I walked out of town barefoot a ways looking at the houses and the orchards and listening to the quiet and feeling my whole body relax and already checking my thoughts and trying to let things come as they would and when I got a tour of the town I had to reel them in a dozen times as I fluttered along the various threads that stretched out from each business and event and spun together with my ego to create important successful endeavors and how much could I create in a month?
I began Monday morning on the ditch road walking East towards Jumbo and crossing the ditch and walking up towards the big mountain and checking the light and worrying at how much time I was taking to find a spot, knowing any spot was better than anything I’d had in years and trying to relax and accept the walking as part of the art and trust that the painting would eventually begin and then I’d be painting but right now I was walking and could I enjoy this slice of the trail and all the bees and grasshoppers and little white butterflies and the yellow flowers that built up into great big curving soft pillows beside the brown fast-moving water in the ditch. I went back to the car with some idea of a spot to start and sat down inside the car to eat the rest of my toasted PB&J and thought self-consciously about my parking spot and me sitting in there eating and drinking tea and after getting out once I got back in and moved the car back closer to the entrance and then carefully packed my napsack standing outside the passenger door and then took out the art cart for its maiden voyage. I leaned it up against the rear bumper and began bungeeing the painting board with the pink gessoed papers to the top of the cart and standing the cart up all the way I awkwardly mounted the old cardboard box of paints and wrapped the big bungee around it and then started down the gravel to cross the road, fretting over how the bungee rubbed noisily between the box and the tires, thinking what a big flustered bumbling mess I was and who did I think I was building this contraption and trying to make paintings right away here not knowing anybody and not knowing the country at all, but I paused and switched the orientation of the bungee so it didn’t rub and made my way across the road and down the track and stopped at the strange spot I’d chosen for the way a road started up and across the valley from behind a light-blue roof, and doubting my spot the whole time and fussing and struggling to get the cart situated and steadied in its open position I sat down to mix colors and painted.
Six days in a row I’ve done the same thing every morning, doubting completely the spot and what I am doing each morning except for yesterday when I decided I’d put everything I could into the little painting and think of it as a real painting and not a study and I was so content up there without listening to the radio or a podcast, just looking out and laying down four big pink-orange shapes of the fields below the mountains and building the picture around them and finding four surprise blue shapes to fit into each corner that I couldn’t have planned even if I’d tried.
A week now that includes some dips into deep despair and excitement and emptiness and all the things that make up real life as a human that feels things and has space to allow everything in and although sure it’s been quick and how can there already be only 21 days left I feel full up on Paonia and CO and sure enough about what I’m doing to enjoy it and appreciating the point on which I’m perched where all around me are swirling possibilities and the real challenge and great opportunity is to sink down into this moment and not tumble off chasing something but stand here and trust the universe to do the organizing and figuring and be grateful for this life and truly believe in every bit of my being that this is my life and this is not some fantasy that must end but the true product of all the work I’ve done and the start of something new.