Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Kentucky's True Colors

Is Kentucky truly blue or cardinally red? Neither, I say! No Kentucky's true colors, from east to west, north to south are warm cedar green and redbud violet. You can tell this is true if you travel the state, particularly at this time of year. The Eastern Red Cedar is greatly undervalued. It provides a handsome structure to the landscape, every bit as effective as those pointy Tuscan cedars. When they reach a certain age, the cedar trunk has a bleached look, a lovely foil to the deep foliage. In winter, icy blue berries (actually pine cones) grace the branches. This brings up the point that this variety of cedar is actually a juniper. But my favorite time of year for the cedar is in the spring when it is accented with the striking violet of the red bud blossoms which generously populate the Kentucky landscape. I love driving along the interstates and parkways of Kentucky in spring and viewing this most lovely of combos!

      Now, another question is which university is the true university of Kentucky. That is easy to answer as well. The University of Kentucky is the land-grant, flagstaff university of our state. In my opinion, the work of the University of Kentucky does more to make manifest the common wealth  of Kentucky than any other institution. There are extension agents working with citizens from Maysville to Mayfield and Paducah to Pikeville.  The Gluck Equine Research Center is a major support to Kentucky's signature industry. The A.B. Chandler Hospital is a life saver for folks with serious ailments. One has only to dip very slightly into the work of the UK Libraries to understand the dizzying number of ways in which the University affects the whole state and beyond. I haven't even mentioned the number one reason for UK's dominance in Kentucky--it makes higher education possible for more Kentuckians. No matter what happens on Saturday, March 31, 2012, this will still be true.

    (Still, I hope UK wins...!)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring Renewal

Field trip to the Prichard home
The profusion of spring blooms is reminding me of a special time in my life. For a decade, I took workshops with Fay Moore and they were often held at the end of April into the first of May. Fay would be in the state for Keeneland and the Derby; she is an amazing sporting artist.

   I would leave early in the morning to drive to Versailles (Heike Pickett hosted the workshops) and the sun would back light the dogwood and redbud as I headed out. Tulips were out and the smell of Spring was everywhere. Several of the workshops focused on landscapes, so we would be outside. Back inside, Heike always had a beautiful setting with artwork (of course), fresh flowers and a tasty luncheon.

   You can't deny that this is a glorious time of year, but taking these workshops intensified my perception. I actually stopped and "consumed" the beauty. This has had a lasting effect on my life. Making art has allowed me to take in the beauty around me and it forms my life. So this year, as the buds burst, I am feasting once again. And you can, too!

On March 27th, I will start a four week session (Tuesdays, 1:30 - 3:30 pm) of Experimenting with Watercolor and Pastel at the Lexington Art Academy. This is probably going to be your last time to take a class with me at LAA, and certainly it will be a chance to revel in the beauty of Spring! Hope to see you!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

March in Kentucky

Daffodils and 5inches of snow
I woke up at 1 am Monday morning. A soft light was coming into the bedroom and I went to investigate. Light was reflecting off the snow that had blanketed everything in the backyard. Big wads of snow were floating down through the illuminated cone of the  security light in the yard behind us. It was so beautiful, I had to just sit there and watch. These scenes don't last forever. At a more appropriate time for rising, I got up and simply reveled in the gorgeousness. When Carly and I set out for a walk, in one direction the sky was brightening and the blue was rich and fresh. Then, heading on down the street and looking the other way, the sky was a deep steel gray, like a winter storm coming upon us. The tops of the snow coated trees were brilliantly white in comparison. I was so delighted with this visual feast, and I felt terribly guilty about it.

      Just a couple of days earlier, powerful winds blew through our area and many people lost their lives. Swaths of forest were chewed up and spit out along with any houses that were in the way. After the snow fell, reporters were constantly saying that insult was added to injury, as people sifted through the destruction in the cold and wet. It was March in Kentucky.

      Nineteen years ago in March, we had a huge snow fall of almost two feet. My kids were little, six and almost four. The crocuses were out and the snow quickly swallowed them up. The snow was already pretty high when my father came by before heading home to his farm in Jessamine County. He was in town to see some patients.

      The next morning was a beautiful sunny, Sunday. I imagine my father being pretty happy that morning. He fed the birds and then took his tractor out to pick up the paper on the main road and plowed the snow off the lane as he went (two feet deep!) He was on his return trip when he must have misjudged where the road was, because the tractor went off the road and down the steep slope. My father was pinned under the tractor wheel and died. It was such a shock to lose him so suddenly. We were still reeling as the warm spring winds came and quickly melted the snow. A few days later my siblings and I were visiting with our cousins, telling stories in our shirtsleeves. But our father/uncle was gone forever.

      Perhaps it is strange, but I have beautiful memories of this March nineteen years ago.  The house filled with flowers and the smell made me hunger for loveliness. At the visitation, I heard story after story about my father from his patients. A major theme was the newly installed 15-minute hour glass.  Apparently my father's willingness to listen to patients was greatly appreciated, but the delay getting into the room to be listened to was not! As an endocrinologist, he took special care with the feet, a concern for diabetics. Perhaps I would never have known this about my father if he had grown old and retired.

     My father was fond of pointing out that life is unfair, then he went on to prove it. Certainly it was not fair that people lost their life as the storms roared through Kentucky last Friday. There is no rhyme or reason to who was taken and who was spared. All I can think is that it is beautiful that we have lives on this earth. We can not control the length of our lives, but we can appreciate that our life matters.