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Ahhhh for the Pastoral

I spent Sunday swimming and floating in a mountain stream of western Maryland.

…not much internet, blogging or art or ruminations on teaching or pontificating…

Part of a weekend-long camping trip to Green Ridge State Forest.

Just imagine the person standing there is a shirtless, pale white, unemployed guy with a bucket of Budweiser the shore.  Picture some mixed Japanese & Caucasian couples sitting in camping chairs perched in the shallows.  Now, imagine the guy flopping and splashing under water until a giant horsefly goes away…

I hiked to the top of the baby mountain/enormous hill next to our camp site just to see what was up there.

And what does one find on mountaintops?  A crushed can of Keystone Light, apparently.

I guess a little part of me had hoped to meet a yogi levitating in the mist over a fallen tree trunk.

As it were, he would have hit the ground with a thud.

I brought the can, a couple of of long-since crushed Budweisers, and a plastic bottle back down with me so the next intrepid explorer could pretend he/she is Daniel Boone or whatever without interference from the 20th century.

Then, I came back the wrong way (no paths up there), got stuck behind a rocky cliff, and had to climb half way back up just to come back down again.

In any case, I do love finding myself some nature time, peace and the quiet of sounds only from insects and birds.

I spent a good deal of time during the years, oh, I’ll say in between learning to walk and discovering girls, playing in the forest in SW Ohio.  In grad school we spent many a summer night swimming an drinking beer in a lake that people really weren’t allowed to swim in.  It was a dammed reservoir scattered with wholly and partially submerged old, dead trees that the park service had deemed to great a danger for humans who were not also in boats.  But, the trees were most of the reason we went out there.  You just have to go and try it to know the joys of sitting in a treetop, yourself half under water, sipping an Old Style and watching the moonlight.

So, I think all of that is sufficiently a part of me and my otherwise jaded urban persona.

But, each and every time I come across something I think is “beauty” in something I think is “nature”, if I bother to reflect on the constructions of the “picturesque”, I grow more and more certain I’ll never switch tracks and become a landscape painter.  Seems to me that the beauty you find in a clear mountain stream and the act of constructing an image are mutually exclusive and fundamentally opposed, especially if the latter is an attempt to look similar to the former.

I could almost do a Komar & Melamid sort of painting with trees and what not.  But, I think my internal machinations for trumping up the discourses of juvenility are just different than theirs.

Then again, maybe for an artist, it’s more of a question of what you feel like sharing.  I like to amuse myself with cynical visual wisecracks about the trappings of middle class consumer culture.  I show them in hope that someone will get one of my jokes, someday before I turn gray.  That, and I really couldn’t be bothered to try and explain what I find so nice in a bunch of trees and rocks.

So, I won’t.

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