Off the Grid

I just spent two weeks in the backwoods of Northern California “Cleaning out my closets”, to quote Eminem. Actually, it was my Mothers’ closets–my attempt to help her clean out 40 years of accumulated living. Having just returned from Vancouver Island in the Pacific Northwest, it was nice to return to the climate I love: hot and dry days, cool mornings and nights.

When I walk out of my Mothers’ front door I usually pause to deeply inhale the scent of dry pine and wind. Continuing on the rough gravel driveway to the road, I am met by a doe and her two fawns, “the twins” I call them, who casually glance my way, and then continue munching on the melon rind my Mother has recently deposited under a small oak tree. I look up and see blue–intense blue—the outline of tall Ponderosa Pines swaying against the clear sky ocean unmarred by smog or clouds, and think, “I love this, my former home.” Who was the poet who said, “You can never go home?” I think I understand what he means. On mornings like this, when the sky is just beyond my reach, so exquisite and blue, and the deer are like familiar pets, and the smell is so clean and dry, I feel a keen sense of sadness. I want to take the experience–that particular moment–bundle it up and bring it back to Austin with me. But I can’t. I can experience it, and then the moment is gone…and I am back in Texas, home to most of my moments, only remembering the other life I left when I went off to USC in 1978.
As I sit here remembering, I am struck by how powerful and compelling the landscape of our childhood is, how it seems to live in us. Sometimes I actually physically crave it: I want to taste it, touch it. At these times, I have the urge to hug the ground, to feel the rough pine bark, to listen to the wind through the tall pine trees.

I turn to art at these times, to express what I am unable to experience in the flesh, to re-orient myself to that ineffeble place, and to remember in images, words, marks and colors what moves me about HOME.

Home in Texas I face the typical studio clutter of half-finished projects, papers strewn about, art supplies lying on top of piles of handouts from summer classes. It has been a busy summer filled with travels, teaching and studying. A bit wistful about Summers’ ending, I walk outside and am startled into a smile by a racoon brazenly strutting about our deck in broad daylight. The smell is thick, my skin feels sticky. I don’t hear the wind, but rather a bunch of chattering squirrels. A Jet flies overhead, and I glance at the clock to see that it is time to pick up Maeve. Home. In Austin, Texas. Where long ago I staked my claim, where I am happily bound to a life of my choosing; and where Hayfork breathes through my blood in my daily remembering.


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  2. Sounds like you have had a wonderful summer of learning and nurturing. I am sure Maeve is happy to have her own Mum back home. Its amazing how somehow we can be adolescent and adult all at the same time; transported by memories and anchored by reality. Happy to catch a glimse of you here – hope we can connect soon


  3. Sharon,
    It’s so great that you have a blog!
    So do I:
    I’d love to reconnect.
    See you at the ‘Once’ concert tonight?

    ron palmer =)


  4. Hey, Sharon — I love that house on that hill in Hayfork. Is the deer fence Mike and I put up still there?


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