Posts Tagged ‘autumn colors’

Thursday, September 20, 2012

When Dad opened his door I was glad I’d taken my vitamins.

Dad writing a poem in his big black chair

He seemed quite content to return to his big black chair.  I handed him his green sketchbook and mechanical pencil.

Nothing ……

We headed for Lord Stirling Park.

Pushing for Poems

Pushing for Poems, –

May not work well, –

Good poems flow, –

Without a push – or a pull

I could write more words

But these words about

Say it pretty well

Adding more, would be dull.


“Those words are OK,

But don’t you have more?”

I am sure that I do,

But, — where did they go?

Walking the Trail, Lord Stirling Park

Though not a great day for writing, it was a wonderful day to walk the trails.

An incredible sky

Dad concentrates on his footing, often forgetting to turn his head from side to side.  I remind him to look at the autumn colors and the beautiful sky.

Dad stopping to admire the sky

When reminded, he stops to soak up the beauty of the clouds, calculating the speed of them as they make their way across the sea of blue.

autumn begins in New Jersey

Each new moment is more beautiful than the last.  When I ask Dad if he knows what season it is… he doesn’t.  When I ask him what year it is he replies, “2014”.

Lost in a world of autumn grass

One foot in front of the other.  One foot in front of the other.  No stories, no questions.  One foot in front of the other.

A winding path

We weave our way through the fields of grass.  The insects, birds and frogs scream loudly but Dad hears only the roar of a distant plane.  That, too, becomes silent.

Retracing our steps

In spite of precautions, nature calls and Dad heads into the woods.  I call to him when he fails to return.  He is making his own way, deeper into the woods.  We call, back and forth, until he has returned to me.

Turning back

I decide to turn back, knowing that Dad needs a rest.  We return to the herb garden where our journey began.

Black-Eyed Susans, past their prime

We sit on the benches

Chris and I – Resting from our fresh

walk through the woods

Clouds drift by

While we both write.

The clouds seem the same

As they did years ago, –

When I, as a kid

Looked up at the sky

I could write more

But the words, above,

Seem to say all, —

That I have to say, today.

Sept 20, 2012

Birdhouse at the edge of the pond beside the fragrant herbs

The silence is awesome

The leaves are still

The clouds in the sky

Seem to be frozen pell mell.

No movement at all

Can be seen, even when

Clouds are lined up with branches

Hanging down, quietly and still.

Some days are better than others.  Today was beautiful.  I will remember the sounds, the light, the smells and walking beside my father as his memory slips away.  As long as he is able, we will walk, side by side, enjoying the feel of the ground beneath our feet, the wind caressing our cheeks and the blue, blue sky above.

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Nothing was certain about today. I gave myself extra time to get down the mountain knowing I would be dodging downed trees, drooping wires and trucks guiding men through the air to remove limbs wrenched from the trunks of trees by branches overburdened with snow clinging to leaves that had not yet fallen to the ground.

Unable to stand tall under the weight of the snow

Before meeting Jane at Benny’s for lunch, Dad and I stopped by the house to check the damage from the bizarre snow storm that hit the Northeast last weekend.  Fortunately, though trees were torn apart on every side of us, Dad’s trees fared rather well, except for the tree that supported one end of his hammock.

Taking down the hammock

We had a lovely lunch with Jane at Benny’s, arriving just in time to see Helen, too.  Hugs all around as well as delicious soups and salad.  For the first time in five years, Helen and Benny didn’t lose electricity during a storm.  Naturally, they worked non-stop to feed the neighborhood of hunger folks without power.

After lunch Dad and I returned to the house to clean up branches and go for a walk.  Along the way we met three of Dad’s neighbors and ended up in rather long chats each time, standing in the middle of the road without a care in the world.  What a great place Spring Run still is.  I loved growing up there, free to roam the woods, play late into the summer nights with neighborhood kids and sleep outside gazing up at the milky way.

Limbs Everywhere

Memory is so strange.  Every house we passed, Dad would remark, “What a lot of limbs!”  as if we hadn’t just passed a dozen other huge piles of broken branches and sawed off limbs.

"Lots of limbs!"

As we passed one of the houses he asked me who used to live there.  “The Carswells”, I answered.  “Ah…. Susan… no, Suzie.”  And that was it.  No more was said.

Eventually we made our way back to the house and marveled at the beauty of the property drenched in late autumn light.

Autumn Light

The afternoon was still young and the warmth of the sun made it impossible for us to leave.  We found ourselves on the bench Dad made for Mom.  He had carved a heart in the wood with their initials inside.  Mom’s ashes are now part of the ground surrounding the bench.  Sitting side by side, I handed dad his green sketchbook and we began to draw and paint together.

Dad's Leaf Drawing

Earlier in the day, while sitting in the waiting room at Dr. Frisoli’s, I reviewed the concept of contour drawing.  As we began our session in the backyard, we discussed the purpose of contour drawing.  The idea of drawing anything without concern over how the final drawing looks on the page definitely caused Dad to make a few new connections in his brain.  He shared with me his own view of a more sensible way to approach drawing for a better end result. It was a civilized and respectful conversation between two people with completely different points of view.

Drawing on the Backyard Bench

Being the good sport that he is, he agreed to give it another try.

Samples for Dad

As Dad focused on a few more drawings of leaves I added color to the samples I had drawn for him in my own sketchbook.  When he saw the color he was thrilled that the scribbles I had made had come to life.  He was so excited that he agreed to try adding color to his own scribbled leaves.

Dad's autumn leaves about to be painted

Not knowing where or how to begin.

Where's My Water?

What a thrill it was for me to see Dad painting.  The tools are simple, a few strips of Peerless Watercolor Papers taped into a clear cd case and a water brush.  A water brush is a brush similar to a fountain pen except that it has a brush on the end rather than a metal nib.  Instead of filling it with ink, it is filled with water.  Dad knew he was painting with watercolor paint.  After every mark he would hesitate, look on either side of him and ask “Chris, where is my water?”

“It’s inside of the brush, Dad.”


Another stroke of color would be carefully applied to his leaf drawing and he would reach his brush back to tiny palette of paint only to hesitate, look around and ask “Chris, where is my water?”

“It’s inside of the brush, Dad.”

“Oh.  Do I squeeze the brush like this to get it out?”

Dad's beautiful leaves

He did such a beautiful job both drawing and painting his leaves. Such progress!  I wish all my students were as fearless as Dad.

Too soon it was time to head back to Chelsea.

Dad by the Beech Tree

There is always time for one more photograph of the Beech Tree…

The Beech Tree

Or maybe even two………

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