Sky Above the Clouds II, Georgia O'Keeffe, 1963, oil on canvas
"My center does not come from my mind -- it feels in me like a plot of warm, moist, well-tilled earth with the sun shining hot on it...It seems I would rather feel it starkly empty than let anything be planted that can not be tended to the fullest possibility of growth."
- Georgia O'Keeffe
It's no wonder that some of the American women that I most admire -- Georgia O'Keeffe and Laura Ingalls Wilder -- both grew up on Midwestern farms where the prairie landscape was deeply embedded into their souls. When you are able to clearly see a vast expanse of land or water meeting the sky there is a sense of infinite calm and freedom. These breathtaking locations fill me with stillness and clarity. Living in the city, I sometimes feel a sense of urgency or frustration, wanting to desperately push the stifling buildings, trees, bushes, and cars aside to get a glimpse of that extensive, horizontal moment -- like a trumpeter holding a long, luxurious note.
Underwater, Beth Hemmila, 2007, watercolor and pencil on paper
For me hints are the gaps, the spaces in between things, the holes in our speech, the impressions in pillows, and the scent left behind in a room. They are the reminders of what was once there. A horizon line hints at the gap between land and sky where we can just barely see how these two mysterious elements may be separate or touching. It is within this miniscule place of absence that I feel most alive and truly at ease with myself and the universe.
Yesterday when I sat on our deck, soaking in the fall sunshine, there was a moment when the birds stopped singing, the wind stopped blowing, the leaves stopped rustling, and planes stopped flying overhead. It was as if the world took a pause, an intake of breath and just waited silently for the next moment. In that small fraction of time, I felt the immensity of my freedom and the intimacy of an inner dialog with nature, allowing me the space to dream and conjure up my next creative impulse.
I think Laura Ingalls Wilder said it best: "We who live in the quiet places have the opportunity to become acquainted with ourselves, to think our own thoughts and live our own lives in a way that is not possible for those who are keeping up with the crowd."