Sunday, September 25, 2016

Rookwood Fountain, Withrow High School

For ninety-six years, students have walked past the Rookwood fountain that sits between the front steps and the tower of Cincinnati's Withrow High School. Rookwood was a local business, famed for their art pottery and tiles. For most students, the fountain was just...there, bubbling away as they came and went. I was lucky to have six years to study that fountain and sketch the astrological symbols. I looked at it so often that it's easy to recognize those exact shades of blues, greens and golds when they appear on vases or tiles in antiques shops. Something like a fountain may seem extraneous when planning a school these days.  Everyday art, right there where you live or work or go to school  is important. It can get in your head and stay with you for the rest of your life.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Ohio Corn Field

Traveling south from Columbus, the land flattens out and the sky becomes more spacious. In the late afternoon light, even the cornfield edging a rest stop takes on a seductive golden glow. The stalks rustle and ripple in the breeze. As cars whiz past, headed toward the hillier and more populated regions around Cincinnati, it's a reminder of the slower, more rural life that almost everyone lived not long ago. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Pentagon Memorial View

On a day as brilliantly blue as that one fifteen years ago, I stood with my back to the Pentagon and looked out beyond the rows of memorial benches to the Air Force Memorial up the hill. This is the trajectory that flight 77 took on that terrible day. If those three soaring arcs had existed then, the plane would have taken them out. All is calm and somberly peaceful among the Pentagon Memorial’s benches, each with a name. We will look at them, pay our respects, then look to the beautiful sky, ever changing but always there. We will remember.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

A Trunk With Legs

A tree trunk lies near a stream. Barnacle-shaped fungi cling to the bark. That made me stop and take a closer look. Wait---what is this? Had a magician's trick gone wrong? If so, where was the upper half of the body he tried to saw in half ? Or was this the  remains of an Ent who slowly made his way from Middle Earth? Did Ents have legs? The velvety moss and ruffles of fungus embellishing the length of the trunk made it look like a fanciful pair of pants, escaped from some fashion designer's latest collection. This mysterious tree-being continues to rest peacefully in the dappled shade of the park, resigned to its fate.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Gubbio Arches

In the Umbrian hill town of Gubbio, the view from the Palazzo dei Consoli is spectacular. But what is that line running across the arch, "ruining" the picture? That is a steel rod, a reinforcement for the 14th century architecture. You see such reinforcements all over Italy, sometimes spanning a charmingly  narrow street. Italy is susceptible to earthquakes. We've had deadly proof of that again this week. Precariously perched villages with ancient walls and buildings are picturesque, but preserving the dream of Italy can be a tragic gamble.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Eggs In a Bowl

We often buy eggs at the local farmers market. This week, I opened the carton to discover that the eggs nestled inside varied from peachy-beige to tan to the color of a latte---with one pale blue egg for an extra surprise. This subtle rainbow looked like wall color suggestions for a very tasteful home renovation. Although consumers no longer insist on white eggs (except at Easter) we have a long way to go in order to break out of our near-monoculture of certain foods, such as bananas and avocados. At the farmers market we can see and try purple tomatoes or white eggplants. I hope everyone has the opportunity to experience the delight of a striped tomato or a rainbow's worth of eggs.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

One Tree, Two Squirrels

On a very hot afternoon, the squirrels were busy. I watched one shimmy up the trunk of a tree with a crab apple bigger than his head clenched between his teeth. Then, in the nearest tree, two squirrels stopped at the same moment, rearranging the parcels in their little paws. The angle of the sun transformed the tree into a silhouette. Suddenly I was seeing the scene as if it was a scherenschnitte, an elaborate cut paper design most commonly associated with the Pennsylvania Dutch. Whether it's 1836 or 2016, sometimes inspiration sits and waits for us in trees