First off, I’m so excited about taking first place in the photography entries in the Sherman Art League annual show. When I dropped my entries early on Thursday and saw the other photographs already entered, I’d pretty much decided that my humble offerings wouldn’t garner more than a passing glance from the judge.
In fact, I’d told a couple of my kids and a friend that it’s a good thing winning is not what I’m focused on in an event like this.
Bear with me. I’m a story-teller after all, so this will be a story.
There was a reception on Thursday evening and I put on some nice duds and went, only expecting to see some lovely art, congratulate winners, and mingle with all the creative people who come to events like this.
When I walked in to the exhibit room, one of the artists was talking to a woman about his work and techniques and he paused to greet me. I joined them in the little mini-art lesson after he introduced me to his friend. Then he showed us one of his pieces that had won second place in abstract art.
We were busy congratulating him, and he said to me, “You won a ribbon, too, Maryann.”
Surely he was mistaken.
“Come on. I’ll show you.”
He led me, his friend following, and pointed to where one of my pictures was leaning against the wall with other ribbon winners for the judge to announce and share why she chose that particularly piece.
“Oh my God!”
I was sputtering and laughing and the friend, who soon became my friend, Mary Ellen, grabbed me and hugged me. “This really is special for you, isn’t it.”
“I can’t believe it. I’ve never won anything like this before.”
She hugged me again.
Needless to say, the adrenaline rush I got from that buoyed me for the rest of the evening and I was able to enjoy the presentations of prizes and visits with artist friends with minimal flares of pain. (That nasty trigeminal neuralgia goes with me everywhere.)
When the judge announced my win, she pointed out that she was also drawn to one of my other entries, but went back to this one because of the colors. The above photo of the photo in a frame with glass hardly does it justice, but the blues and purples and bits of lavender in the buds are also in the wood and “perfectly showcased with the matting.”
When it dawned on me that she had actually found two of my photographs worthy of that kind of recognition I was gobsmacked, as the Irish like to say.
Even though the adrenaline rush has passed, I’m still smiling. I’ve won numerous writing awards, and each one of those means a lot, but this is a first for another form of creative art.
Now an essay from my friend Slim Randles. After the blasting summer many of us have experienced, I think we can relate to this thoughts about summer heat. Enjoy…
When the world is hot and my skin is fried, scratching from the constant dry, let the clouds boil up, boil up high. And then shade the earth with the darkening sky and bring the secrets and the smell of rain. The coolness and the blessed rain, again.
Our land is brown but blessed, stressed in the heat, the shiny heat of day. The slender green of rivers slide along, striving to continue, to feed its own along the banks, the banks where the dust rises. Rises, powdery clomp by clomp as we walk, walk the shady way.
And though the heat, the dryness of heat, pushes down our weary feet, we plod along. Ours is the blessing of challenge, to live, to thrive in the heat. To toil and sweat, to make the cold drink at day’s end that much sweeter. Sweeter as it goes down, cooler as it falls, dropping the coolness inside us and forcing us to smile. That summer smile.
When the heat falls hard, on many days, unquenched by the dark of night, we ask, in quiet times, we ask. Bring us the clouds, the black-bellied clouds, the clouds that softly hold the heads of gods in their moistening grasp. The clouds, those big-bellied busters that hold the violence, the wind, the flashes, the noise. The clouds we wait for and pray for and look for on the western ridge.
Let them come, with their silver tops and their bellies black as night and cool as forgiveness.
The summer clouds, the clouds that define our culture, our art, our summer, our hot, heavy summer.
A rain, a storm, a suddenness of life and blast and sweet charity designed to keep us living here, here in the rain, here in the sun, and keep us praying, here in the rain, and looking toward the west for more, always to the west, always looking for more.
Brought to you by the national humor podcast Home Country with Slim Randles. Now on 40 classic country stations and threatening to swallow the world.