Sunflower House ( or One Bug Leads To Another)

The mix of gray Northwest skies, building Spring fever, and fighting off the “Oh my God is this gloom ever going to end” blues lately really bugs me. For sanity’s sake it often leads what I call Mind Drifting. This morning while the rain pounded down outside my window and I was drifting happily a memory flashed in my brain that helped, even if just in passing, to clear those skies and lift me a bit.

Marilyn Rodgers’ baby blue VW Bug had proved less than safe in an accident that squished us both pretty badly and left me unable to surf for many years. After some healing time (and mainly out of pity) my surf buds took me along on on what had been our bi-annual trip. The deal was that I functioned as camp cook-and-bottle-washer as well as assorted other menial duties. I jumped at the chance and was happy to be there again. We camped and surfed our way up the California coast hitting all of the usual places and exploring some new ones. One of the last stops before heading back to L.A. was always a spot just North of Santa Barbara called El Refugio State Beach. On this particular trip I set up our camp and while my friends surfed the point I went exploring over the small mountains set behind the campgrounds. The near side was covered in walnut groves and Live Oak. Down the other side were soft green rolling hills covered in oceans of California poppies and a huge patch of sunflowers. Their lower leaves were big and so thick they nearly covered their stems and shaded the ground below. I was soaking up the Sun and peace when a bee buzzed past my ear and visited a sunflower right next to me. As I watched ladybugs crawled across some lower leaves and disappered into the green bathed underworld. My imagination kicked in and soon that underworld was populated with tiny bug houses and bustling communities oblivious to my presence. The ladybugs reminded me of Marilyn’s VW which lead to feeling how good it was to be alive and a smile came to me that lasted all day.

As an artist, things sometimes push their way to the surface and flow out into whatever you’re creating. Usually you notice afterwards if at all. When I finished the series of In a Summer Garden for a showing at a local gallery I was hanging the piece Sunflower House when that same memory came flooding back. I was back among those flowers with the hot SoCal sun on my face, watching the bugs, and smiling. The thought occured to me that in some way Marilyn and her baby blue bug had lead me to that moment, and possibly this one too. Thank you Marilyn, wherever you are.

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