[Nomad Rings :: sterling silver]
[belugas at the Shed Aquarium of Chicago, IL]
Robbie just walked into the office, looked over my shoulder at the computer monitor and said, “You are a beluga-aholic.”
I reckon there are worse things to be!
I could have sat and watched these whales for the rest of my life. They are so beautiful, their faces so innocent and their eyes so kind. I have to be honest though, I can’t help but wonder what it would feel like to bump into one of these mystical beauties while drifting about in a canoe in Arctic waters.
[images taken in Chicago and up on the North Shore of Lake Michigan]
We have been here, there and everywhere and it’s been magnificent. RW came home from his six week long work detail in the southeast and we took a whirlwind trip to the Chicago area to be with family, our favorite little niece and one of our best friends in the whole wide world. It’s been a while since we took a trip together and it was my great delight to lay my head down on Rob’s shoulder, while zooming through the sky in our rinky tinky airplane, and take a little nap that way. Just marvelous. Lake Michigan is beautiful. I always forget that the great lakes of North America are essentially inland, fresh water seas. And that city on the lake…that city…I have always loved Chicago, it’s my favorite big American city that I have visited to date. Everyone is relatively friendly there and the downtown sector feels like Gotham City to me — tall, cold and perhaps slightly theatrical. We spent an afternoon at the aquarium (falling in love with the belugas), strolling, laughing aloud at our reflections in The Bean and generally wandering without a care. I never know what to photograph when I am in urban areas, it’s good to get my camera out of its comfort zone from time to time. I’m always surprised by how the hubbub of humanity is so similar, in so many ways, to the swirl of nature, when I look at it through a camera lens.
Now that we are home and life has slid into working order again, we are about to survive two crazy weeks of life! It all begins tonight with another art walk for me in Old Town Pocatello. I know! I have gone art walk crazy! Guess what, I have yet another one scheduled for the month of June in the Methow Valley. That’s crazy talk. Three art walks in three months? I’ve lost my mind. No. I really have. Ok. But here’s the thing, one of my goals for this new year was to be more present in my local art communities, to come down off my hermit’s mountain and poke my head out from time to time and really connect with my local people. I think I failed to write about it in the month of April but my last art walk appearance was SO. MUCH. FUN. I loved every moment of it and did such great work leading up to it and wonderful work afterwards. It was a perfect kick in the pants. Additionally, it was so nice to stand beside my work, my bevy of offerings, and say, “Hi! I am Jillian! Here’s what I do.” Over and over again to really lovely strangers and friends. I met some cool people. Oh, I met a biologist who is studying the effects of wind farms on bat populations, she was fascinating! For me, getting ready for these shows is a dizzy-tizzy-studio-freak-show but it’s been more fulfilling than I imagined it would be and I’m going to keep doing them as the dates present themselves. Tonight I am going to be set up beside a delightful friend who is a painter and leather worker — I can’t wait to share the crowds with her.
I have a thousand other things to tell you but, it’s art walk day and there is much to do. I really need to get breakfast cooking and a pot of coffee brewing. I should have new work listed in the Etsy shop this weekend and I’ll be working on catching up on, well, just about everything in the next couple of days before I begin to taper off my online work and pack for our move to the summering grounds in Washington. I am not ready for the transition into this fire season and deeply resisting, most ferociously, in my heart of hearts, letting go of my house and the land here. This move is so hard for me, that’s the simple truth. I hope you’ve all been well. I think of you always.
Six weeks have almost passed now. It’s hard to believe that much time has trickled by. Robert has been away working in South Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee…those southern states where people drawl out their words like hammocks between two trees and eat lots of fried stuff. Time has crept past, time has flown, I don’t remember all of it or how being alone unfolded for me, since he left so long ago. Days were eternal and short, elastic and snapping, yawning and sluggish. Oh! There was a terrible ten day period when I had an awful cold! I remember that. I was in Seattle for a bit. I worked. A lot. The weather turned nice, then ugly, then nice again. Now it’s been raining and squalling for a few days in a row and the wind, my friends, has been righteous and bitter. When I come down off the mountain at night with the dogs I can hardly feel my hands, though they are bundled in mittens and shoved in the pockets of my down vest.
So yes. Time has passed, slow or quick, or both at times. It has passed.
This week I reached a point of deep weariness. I took a day off. Then I worked a couple of days in a row. I failed to answer your emails (still working on it). My phone broke. Again. Then a friend of mine, one of my favorite Wyoming girls, came to visit. Last night, she and I went to the Don Williams concert at the Pocatello performing arts center. It was sold out. We were like sardines in there. Do you remember how Robbie bought two tickets for my birthday? Well. Obviously my fella’s early season work detail in the glorious South of the USA prevented him from being my date (for so many things in the past six weeks) so I took my Wyoming girlfriend with me instead and she was marvelous company. Let me tell you, Don Williams is 73 years old now, a true country music legend, a Prince of Nashville, and when he opens his mouth to sing these days, he still sounds exactly like he did thirty years ago, just like his recordings. He sounds like warm, liquid velvet pouring over a stack of haybales where a pair of country folk are kissing in the light of a harvest moon. He sounded SO good. And when he stopped singing, his voice was the deepest, growliest voice I have ever heard in my life and he kept slowly exclaiming, because he does all things slowly, “You guys…you guys are somethin’ else…oh mercy…” While he strummed his guitar and sang, he rocked one of his snake-skin cowboy boots back and forth, back and forth. For upbeat songs, he added a sort of wiggle to his rocking boot. I couldn’t stop looking at that boot. I know it was snake-skin because we were five rows back from the stage and I could see such details. He has silver hair that really glimmers in the spotlight and covers most of it up with a funny old hillbilly hat.
He is dearly beloved by Idahoans. This became very apparent to me last night. We stomped our boots. We hooted. We hollered. We clapped our hands until they turned to stumps in the cuffs of our plaid shirts. We sang along to all his songs and a few times, he sat back from his microphone and simply played his guitar while we carried the song for him, gladly and merrily, like an enormous church choir, and he looked so pleased, like his tall, narrow frame was fat on our love and appreciation. I wish Robbie could have been there. I’d have kissed him hard during a couple of those songs and I’d not have cared if the people in the row behind us gawked.
Hearing Don sing some of his songs live made the lyrics seem that much richer and I was reminded of why I love country music, country people, small towns, horses in pastures, wheat stubble, pick-up trucks, worn in boots, flocks of wild turkeys and combines taking up both lanes on the highway. I remembered it all. Then I thought about how many beautiful people have fallen for each other while two-stepping to his songs, or while laying in the back of a truck with nothing but the radio on, under the stars and owls and quiet blinks of the jack rabbits. I thought about how his music carries us to times and places, over and over again, like the scent of spruce in winter or the feel of sun on skin. I keep thanking him for that, today, over and over again. His music is honest and at times, purely a manifesto of his very is-ness. What a man. His songs take me back to New Zealand, when I was 19 and Robbie was 21, and we used to drive around and listen to Don’s greatest hits album. Robbie and Brady would throw back their heads and fairly howl along to his music while the ocean wind blew in the windows and sand of Raglan Beach burned black under the sun.
So hey. Thanks for a great night, Don. You’re going to live forever in our hearts and on our radios.
And thanks to my Robert. Baby, those concert tickets are one of the best birthday presents you’ve ever given me. I wish you could have been here for it, but I know that sometimes a man has got to work — and I’m so thankful for your hard work. Get home soon, so I can treat you right.