Twelve months ago, I sat in my chair looking out over a snow covered Muskoka thinking that I might move house. Perhaps somewhere a few miles down the road with a little more land and a place for a bigger and above ground studio. I didn’t get out much and when I did, I didn’t go far. Leaving made me anxious. I looked at the borders of my home as full of everything I might need, until it wasn’t.
Muskoka is 1500 miles in my rear view mirror and the grey and pink granite is replaced with red sandstone. I catch my breath when I think about how my life has undergone a change not unlike the way an earthquake distorts and changes the land beyond recognition. And yet, what I thought was weak, was strong.
With my studio in boxes after a very successful Spring and a People’s Choice Award to send me on my way, I had the opportunity to explore another part of my creative self through writing. I got to explore the old buildings in my paintings in words and wrap the images in stories that gave them another dimension. I think this was something I needed to foster in order to make the most of what the year was to bring. I did things this year that I thought would be impossible for the girl living in her Muskoka world. I had to go forward. I thought the tears would never end before the cord was cut. But then after, I rarely looked back. The road beckoned me and I was seduced by the unknown.
The harshness of Steinbeck’s Oklahoma is still beneath the surface. The extremes of its weather and the intensity of the soil tempered only by the gentleness of the people who live on the hard, scarred land. The desert meets the plains. Trees twist and curl their silhouettes into a sunset coloured by red dust. Lush fields and stark plains merge in this place, a place with a heart that has been torn out more than once and whose blood is absorbed by the soil every time.
The center of Oklahoma City is still heavy with the horror of the bombing. I found it hard to catch my breath next to the black reflecting pond at the Memorial. The city is struggling to revitalize in what has always been a boom-bust economic climate. Its resilience revealed in the spiraling tower of light in the Art Museum only blocks away. There is a quiet energy building in the streets and its culture is growing and spreading. Oklahoma City is a place of contrasts.
The siren song of red soil brought me to the Red Rock canyon where the armadillos and water wander between the sandstone cliffs. I ran my fingers over the rough stone. Crevices created by climbers and rainstorms smelled like green caves of moss and yet there was none. The stone was a mere shell in places dissolving into ochre in my hands and staining my fingers.
And then, I feel just a little bit less anxious.
‘New beginning’ takes on a whole new meaning. Thanks to 2011 for showing me that there was something I needed to do and my finding the courage to do it.
Here’s to 2012 – The adventure is just beginning.