You know how when you are on vacation, everything looks fresh and new: the light is amazing, the locals have wonderful, distinctive character and the buildings sport all manner of charming details? Maybe it is because I am an artist, and always looking for new material, but lately I have found myself surprised by the amazing beauty right in my own back yard. Over the weekend, my daughter Mary and I went to check out the Asparagus Festival in May's Lick, KY. Mary was driving so I was able to indulge in the scenery. I can not remember the grass ever being quite so luxuriant, the wind forming beautiful waves. For some reason, whenever I travel from Carlisle over toward Maysville, I am struck by the beautiful light. It reminds me of being up in Maine with a clearer quality. The light and shadow on clapboard houses especially feature this effect. For over twenty years, I visited my mother and stepfather in Maine, so the light along this way makes me feel like I am on vacation.
When we arrived in May's Lick, we were immediately enchanted. There was a very festive atmosphere (appropriate, for a festival!) and cars were packed in between the highway and the cones prohibiting wheeled traffic into the community. Droves of people strolled along the road leading to the town center and almost immediately we passed a beautiful church. The place is so small that we could see ahead another distinctive church. This reminded me of a recent trip to France, where beautiful churches could be found in the tiniest of villages (of course, they were all Notre Dame!) The green lawn, out from the town square was filled with the booths of artists and artisans. I spotted my Courthouse Square Arts Guild friends, Juanita, Larry and Brad offering up their specialties: painted turkey feathers, walking sticks and fossil art. Since May's Lick is close to Maysville, it is not too surprising that we saw Ohio River Valley Art Guild members Ken and Dana (and Dana's beautiful photographs.) The other church was the site of the Asparagus Art Competition. Large sheaves of green grass stood like columns on the pews. Art work filled the space which was at once a golden memory and as new as now. (And Brad received Best in Show for his Whale Food entry!) Mary is an enthusiastic traveler, and I think even she was impressed by what we found so close to our home turf.
But something funny is happening to the neighborhood where David and I have lived for almost twenty-five years. I think it is because I have opened my eyes and I am seeing things anew. Part of this might actually come from traveling abroad and coming back to see the charms of home with fresh eyes. Or perhaps hearing visitors to the World Equestrian Games last fall sing the praises of the Bluegrass turned my head. Certainly, having a green "paddock" where a city block used to be in downtown Lexington has allowed a different perspective on Main Street. The scene in our neighborhood is not unlike that of the village we spent some time in during David's sabbatical in Manchester, England, twenty-six years ago (though it would be neat to be able to hop on a train to get around the region.)
This weekend we will be driving the opposite direction on US 68, to go the chamber music festival held at Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill. Every time I travel out that way, I am surprised by the beauty that exists so close to my home. The road winds down to the Kentucky River at the Palisades and then works its way to the higher elevation of Pleasant Hill where Shakers lived and worked. It is actually hard for me to think of a more pleasant place. We will walk to the Meadow Barn to hear Mozart and Mendelssohn played by a string quartet, piano and clarinet. Birds will add to the music and there will be the sweet smell of summer coming on...unbelievable!
I suspect, the truth is, we all live in unbelievably beautiful places. Let's open our eyes and take it in!