The assignment for next week’s class in a course I presently am taking asked for a painting and a short poem inspired by the painting. I decided to paint a composite of the memory and too-many-photos from the summit of Cadillac Mountain when I visited last week for the first time since I moved to Maine. Cadillac is the tallest of the ancient mountains in Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island, Maine, and is about 30 minutes from my home. Present-day Mt. Desert Island is actually the bottom of the caldera of a huge volcano from 420 million years ago. The summit road just re-opened — it is closed during the winter. The weather was threatening when I visited, the wind howling and the clouds ominous. Even so, the sweetest spring flowers were blooming in the low thickets of scrub. It was fairly magical. I actually wrote two poems, because I didn’t absorb that the instruction was to write a short poem of just 3 or 4 lines. My too-long first poem is titled “Another Painting”.
It hardly seems fair, living for the better part of seven decades
A full life, fully living, in places where others slave and save just to visit.
Counting forty-two years on a beach in Florida, white sands, tropical colors,
And now, today, stepping lightly to leave no trace on this Maine mountaintop,
Stepping so carefully on hard-as-steel rock-hard rock.
This pink Cadillac of a mountain requires respect.
Strong wind stinging my cheeks, freezing fingers holding my coat closed;
My windy watering eyes might have seen a blurry family of Porcupines
Waddling across a puddle below.
The corner turns for another vast view, more pink granite with gray weathering,
The fading echo of volcanic rock being scraped by glacial ice through the eons,
And now krummholz whistling over bluets and blooming blueberries,
Serviceberry, rhodora, lime-green replacing grayed sienna.
And descending, traveling through a photo calendar,
Forty-two becomes four hundred twenty, four hundred twenty million years
To realize the dream of an ideal life,
This life, another life for me, this another place, this another time, another painting.
The first, longer poem was personal, my feelings and thoughts about living in this incredibly interesting and beautiful area by intention, creating the life I want, living where I want to paint. The second, shorter poem borrows some of the phrasing but has a different theme, the passage of time.
Springtime on the Mountain
Four hundred and twenty million years later,
For the four hundred and twenty millionth time,
The cycle begins again on this pink Cadillac of mountains;
Bluets and blueberry blooms,
Shadbush and muted shadows of overcast spring light
Softening the edges of hard-as-steel rock-hard rock.
Inspirations, Winter and Spring of 2023
“Brain, Aging and Art”, Acadia Senior College, instructed by Armine Darbinyan, MD, Assistant Professor, Adj, Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Pathology, Neuropathology.
“Evolution of Thinking on the Geology of MDI from 1836 to Now”, Acadia Senior College, instructed by Duane and Ruth Braun. Ruth Braun earned her Master of Science from Johns Hopkins University. Over the years she has taught science, math, and geology courses in a variety of high schools and universities. Duane earned his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University and before he retired he was the Geosciences Professor at Bloomsburg University. In addition, he also mapped the glacial deposits of a 9,000-square-mile area of northeastern Pennsylvania for the Pennsylvania Geology Survey. Together they wrote A Guide to the Geology of Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park.