An Artist's Quest

Life should leave deep tracks

While sitting with this poem this week and working on my art response, I kept conjuring up the memory of the old general stores of my youth.  I grew up in California Gold country.  In tiny towns, barely towns any more, places that had once been beacons for trade and commerce.  Many of the towns still have an old general store at its center; some have managed to remake themselves as tourist hubs but many just barely hold on.  The steps to these stores are worn to a curve in the solid half log slab of oak or redwoods depending on the stores local.  They often have a wood plank sidewalk or deck leading to an old creaking wooden door that swings closed with a spring and a bang.  The floor of the store is worn in a wide groove down the aisles that demands the floor plan never be changed.  People in this place have left their mark, have worn it down to ruts and tracks.

These are the kinds of weary worn patches that Kay Ryan evokes for me in her poem.  It makes me wonder how we leave our mark today.  While sometimes it feels like it, I don’t think my backside will wear down a mark in this desk chair that I perch upon at the edge of this computer.  Nor do we allow our world to be marred by the marks of time; we sand them off or more likely throw them away and buy something new.  And what of these cyber marks we are making?  Emails deleted, websites, and blogs like this one that flicker and fade with the natures whims bringing a power outage that make our screens go black (as with this weeks storms).  Thoughts and ideas floating on the worldwide web, there and not there at the same time.

Recently I was searching the internet for some images of a local artist named Gail Packer, whose art I admire and I know had died 3 years ago.  I was looking for inspiration for some recent landscape puzzles like the piece I posted last week.  Anyhow, I was somewhat surprised to find her website still up (  All her lovely prints so easy see and be inspired by.  What was strange and mystical is that it is all in first person.  Her “About the Artist” page and her “What’s New” page still speaking with her voice the same as the day she wrote it.  How will this spin out in the universe of time and space and life and death?  How will we leave the deep track of living when we no longer work the land and the wood and the clay of this solid earth, but shape and store things of substance and weight only in the flimsy, fleeting, ephemeral clouds?

Reader Submission:Love this week’s image and sentiments.  It inspired me to collect a few bits and pieces that represent 3 generations.
It is sometimes difficult to discover the well  worn paths that connect the generations, but bits and pieces from each life can reserve the faintest trace. -Mary thorpe
Locket with her hair——-Anna Margaret Paul Russell 1873 -1897, my grandmother.
The wedding band and tatting shuttle of her daughter, Leona Pauline 1894 -1994 my mother
A locket that belonged to her granddaughter, Margaret Ann 1922 -1978 my sister


4 responses

  1. Kitty

    Lisa, so last week after reading the poem by Kay, I thought about it in regards to my Mother-in-law, and thought about how many times we have replaced the rug in front of the kitchen sink, and how it would not have that worn spot of which she stood so many years looking out beyond her view to the beautiful elms, pine trees, redwoods, floating clouds – and just close enough to see the hummingbirds feasting on the sugar water she prepares diligently for them. I too was sadden that we would not have that worn spot, but I am thanking you for helping me remember that there truly is one there even if it can’t be seen. On this day, as I drove into the driveway I saw June just outside her kitchen door emptying her bundt cake pan of crumbs for the birds and then quickly went back in the house without seeing me, or perhaps hiding from me, as I am thinking she baked a cake and it stuck to the pan. I went in her house to see how she was doing, and in aspiration she said she wanted to cool the cake like I do on a funnel (bottle), and in doing so she thought it to be turned up side down, and oops, the cake fell out of the pan! So sweet is that memory. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts and in turn expanding mine.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:34 am

    • The worn rug, the favorite chair, the bundt cake pan, all solid real items that carry memories and grace.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:13 pm

  2. thanks lisa, I had no idea that gail packer had died. I even looked at her website not so long ago, as I love her work, too, and have always wanted to own one of her prints. I guess they will go up in value now that she is gone…

    March 25, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    • The wonderful thing about the website still floating around is that we can revisit her images so easily!

      March 25, 2011 at 1:12 pm

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