My friend Dave just returned from the Gila National Wilderness in New Mexico, where I have spent some time and to do so is to not so much to step back in time but to bear witness to the amount of time that the present tense rests upon. It is easier to understand the time scale that evolution demands when you can sit under crystal clear views of the Milky Way and watch owls slide silently between you and the moon. He was telling me about his hikes through charred sections of forest 25 miles from any "civilization" that are in the perpetual cycle of burn and growth. The Ponderosa pine has evolved in this habitat and relies upon frequent burns to maintain life. Dave told me about areas of blackened tree trunks where tons of pine needles had fallen upon the fine powder ash that foot steps would send into the air like spore clouds. For some reason, it wasn't until this very moment that I connected that ash with the medium I have become so familiar with. Charcoal is the physical turning point of carbon. It is at the very bottom of a spiral. From one life form that has grown, aged, burned and died, the carbon starts again and feeds the waiting seeds. In light of my last entry, I was very glad to touch on this thought.
Today I feel like I am drawing with fertilizer and the act of bringing this medium "to life" feels different than it did yesterday. The drawing is in its last stages which is a giddy time in the studio and as welcome as the Spring. I hardly recognize these drawings as an act of my will. It feels much more like watching the grass grow or witnessing the erosion of a new tributary so by the end of the few months I give to them, I am as amazed by the sparks in the eye as I am by the buds on our peach tree. At the same time, it is hard to keep looking at this one. It has been a long winter and I have been with this choking feeling for some time. I sense some duty to this piece, though. It is keeping my heart in tune with North Africa, the Middle East and Japan. This difficult compassion was not taught to me, no prayers or poems ingrained, so this feels like a new tool to me, and I aim to give it proper reverence.