The Artist Date
You may have assumed from the title that my social life has gone up a notch. In fact, that is not the subject of this blog, but rather the name given, by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, to the weekly solitary excursion she recommends all creatives take, combined with daily writing in The Morning Pages, in order to open ourselves to “insight inspiration, guidance.”
I’ve been wanting to go to Spoonbill Pond, on the far northeast corner of Big Talbot Island (the first stop south from Amelia on A1A), where I have seen white pelicans but never took the time to stop. On the boardwalk, overlooking the pond, my disappointment was immediate. I was a bit late in the morning to see the pelicans or anything but the wading birds, a few gulls, and some plovers. Determined to make the most of this me-time I focused on the sounds and began to look more closely, waiting for the music I knew was there.
Knowing it was unlikely, I still hoped the pelicans would arrive. Soon they will begin their flight back north. They are, after all, true Snow Birds, visiting Florida and the Gulf Coast states to avoid the bad winters but spending the warmer part of the year, and their breeding season, in the northern states and Canada.
In my hour of walking, paying closer attention to the wading birds, I noticed how their dragging feet left trails in the mud beneath the clear water. I listened to the gulls and the wading birds, the rustling of the palms and sturdy live oaks as the ocean breeze moved them about, and I tuned in to the absence of human noise.
In muddy spots on the shore, small crabs stood their guard, looking like a waiting room of rotator cuff surgery patients, enlarged arms continually bent as if in slings.
A laughing gull stood in the shallows, announcing something it clearly thought was important. Its call, more of a mocking than a laugh, interrupted my solitude but in a pleasant way. Lizards sunned themselves on the warm decking and scattered as my sandals approached; I was pleased to see one native green anole who reminded me of Lawrence, the long-time resident of a driftwood sculpture on my front porch.
On Boneyard Beach on Nassau Sound (where the Nassau River meets the Atlantic Ocean), the tide was high and most of the dead tree skeletons (the “Boneyard”) were submerged or more difficult to access due to the reduced shoreline.
This Artist Date made me more conscious of my thoughts, helped me realize that expectations (white pelicans, for example) can keep you from seeing other things if you fail to look closely, and reminded me that there is always something valuable to take in when you are in nature. It heightened my awareness of the little thigs because the pelicans were not there to distract me. The big picture is important, but like a pointillist painting, the little dots combine to make it complete and are worthy of a closer look.