It is a deliciously delectable day here in the Ohio River Valley. We have the gift of mild weather recently making being here this season a rather pleasant thing, which for this time of year, isn’t normal. I am so grateful for this. My musician son and I pack off tomorrow for a week of music camp in the mountains of North Carolina, while my dancer daughter sets off for her final week at Irish Dance camp to learn her new sets of steps for the coming year. (a special shout out to my Hub for keeping all the animals fed and watered while we are away!!)
Once upon a time, when this whole ‘kid-at-camp’ era of our lives began, I was merely an observer; a parent along to chaperone the latest in whatever phase the kids were going through. But over the years, I picked up a few tunes, learned a little bit about playing an instrument or so and eventually had the courage to sit with strangers and have a tune or two. These strangers have become my friends, my son has grown to adulthood (and yet manages to have a tune with his intermediate level mama here and there) and I find this camp-thing has become my thing as well. Something I deeply look forward to the rest of the year.
I believe that a practice of life-long learning is crucial to staying young at heart, tapped into the world and into one’s self. This year I am taking a class in concertina, a big step as I only know a couple of tunes on this complicated instrument and I will likely be hiding in the back of class with my recording device, trying not to hold other students behind! But since I help make these beautiful instruments at work, it’s worth learning to play one, as there is always a new instrument there needing to be broken in and scanned for needed tweaks and tuning.
Besides music, another pursuit I’ve taken on in recent years is that of painting. I took a few classes in drawing and print making while in art school, but my focus there was sculpture. I am, at heart, a maker of things. I love tools and supplies and materials. And my Day Job feeds this side of me. But painting has been tugging at my soul more and more, especially with trips in recent years to places like Taos, NM and Monhegan Island, Maine; places where the dogma and history of painting is rich and full of history. While in Taos a few weeks ago (has it only been a few weeks??) my friend Harold over at the Pueblo took a few of us out to visit his herd of buffalo. At the end of one of our visits, he gave to me a buffalo skull to take home. I was taken aback by this beautiful gift and have been somewhat obsessively sketching and painting it since it’s arrival here from Taos.
Hopefully these will be dry when I get home from traveling so I can send one back to Harold as a thank you gift!
Each painting I make I learn something, and this goes for every sketch I make in my journal, and every tune I hack away at in an Irish music session. All of it is learning. There is no true mastery of anything, really. Just a place on an endless spectrum of skill. Sometimes I look back at all the years of this blog and it’s amazing to see the learning I have accomplished and how so much of it is cataloged here. I am grateful for your readership over the years!
Likely I won’t get to blogging again here until the summer is near through as our annual family trip back home to Maine comes directly on the heels of camp week. It is not lost on me that this ability to spend most of the summer on the road is a huge gift. Sure, the Taos trip in June is work related, and technically summer camp is sort of a parenting gig…. but I know that I am truly fortunate to have these opportunities. While I may not do so much sketching in NC (seems the more music I learn, the less I draw while at music camp!) I will be sure to share some drawings and paintings from our time in Maine. Maine is a perennial soul home of mine and it fills my proverbial well of inspiration much in the same way Taos has come to do. If you want to contact me, you know how to find me.
Simply send a message on the wings of a bird, preferably a raven if you can find one, and send it my way. Or, if it’s more convenient, I’ll try to check in online now and then as well.
Happy summer to you. May it be filled with learning opportunities, chances for true joy, rest and communion with those you love who might be far away the rest of the year.