I heard that old rhyme so many years ago, it sits with me like a prayer told after confession.
It’s just a part of me.
2/3 of my life have passed since my time in the U.S. Coast Guard, and my memories of that time, while fading, are as much of who I am as the old rhymes and prayers of my boyhood. We don’t have to think about breathing, it just happens, and time slips aside, revealing times and faces lost behind the mists of priorities, deadlines, and trauma. Sometimes, I remember an emotion or a sensation, not quite as powerful as a full on emotion. I embrace my memories as well as those feelings. They are whispers of my muse, gentle, prodding, sometimes downright inspiring.
When it happens, I get quiet. My breathing slows. My eyes loose focus and I am seeing on another more clear level of awareness. I get that feeling when I am looking at a masterwork at a museum, a newly discovered painting in a random gallery with a forgotten name, or when I see and image that needs to become one of my paintings. Morning Light, Wharfside is inspired by just such a moment.
Yes, I painted those numbers, and the name on her stern as well. I stood watch many times during my two years serving on her crew. Daytimes, evenings, late nights and early mornings, and after all those years, I know I am still a bit of a night hawk. I prefer the night to mornings. I function better in every way. In fact I hate mornings. Back then, as that nineteen year old, and for a few more years, my favorite time of day was sunrise. Not the sunrise you see when you get out of bed early enough to see it, but the sunrise you see after a night, awake, aware, and active. That sunrise would link two days together, and fill the new one with hope. I never felt as though a red sky was necessarily a warning, I loved the mood of the red or really, magenta color. It filled me with hope for the new day.
Some thirty-five years later, standing on the shoreline that gave a great view of the wharf in Provincetown, on a hot afternoon, I felt that shift in time, a sidestep into old emotion. The magenta to red, the first rays of sunshine reflecting from the building, the people waving behind them, and the light flickering along the water surface. They are all symbolic to me. As I painted this piece, I felt every bit the older, wiser man I had become, looking back, connecting with the young man discovering hope in the early light, and I realized that his hope was not misplaced.