Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Late Bloomers

Azaleas 3. Oil on canvas, 6x12

Azaleas 2. Oil on deep-sided canvas, 12x12

Azaleas 1. Oil on canvas, 12x12. sold
(Yes, you've seen this one already. Read on, Macduff!)

Yesterday, I drove back up to the Kinney Azalea Garden, in Kingston. The weekend's torrential rain had taken a toll on the azaleas. Bushes and pathways that had blazed with color on Saturday were dull and wilted on Tuesday, and the precipitous decline left me thoughtful.

An artist was talking on the radio as I packed my paint bag for the outing. He was saying that he was older now, and past what he termed his "apogee." He wasn't as smart as he'd been as a young man,
he said, nor as vigorous, nor as enthusiastic.

My bag was packed then, and I shut off the radio and left, so I don't know if he redeemed himself. I don't know if he talked about the gifts that take the place of that crackling youthful cleverness I once considered "intelligence." I don't know whether he talked about the patience that wakes up when vigor takes its rests. I don't know if he talked about experience, and how it cuts a path beyond enthusiasm.

As I walked through the garden, and looked into the shadows, I saw that my first impressions had been off base. Not all the color had passed. The pathways curled and curved into the woods, and I followed them, seeking. And deep in the shade of the tall trees, I found azaleas still blazing, brighter in their late bloom than all the rest had been.

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