Alas, PP has been without power for the last 3 days--hurricane Ike's tail end hit Indiana if you can believe it! So, this story is the calm before the storm; there's another story of being 'powerless' which may or may not make it into the blog....depending on whether or not PP flies away from all things snake and black!
So, enjoy this blog and watch out for what Mother Nature can let leash--snakes, hurricanes, and mermaids?
“I love the colors on the lake at this time of day. Black and white!” CM exclaimed as she paddled the canoe out to the middle of Mount St. Francis Lake. Yes, PP has finally come ON the lake, not IN the lake. Though she has a plan now about that, black snake not withstanding. All the friars are busy with Sunday mass from 10 to 11, so this would be the ideal time to ‘sneak’ into the lake. “Use God as a Diversion,” Poet Owen cleverly noted when PP told him about her idea.
But last night, the CM canoe ride ON the lake was splendid. The black and white of course having to be explained to PP’s non-artistic brain. She saw the black of course, the lake an inky darkness in the setting dusk, like a slick oil sheen that they paddled through. But the white? What was this? she asked CM.
“It’s the reflection on the water,” she laughed. Oh those visual artists, they see the world in such a complex way, all the layers upon layers of images and light. So, yes, now PP could see that the clouds were reflected as white puffs in the black inkiness, but somehow she thought that CM wasn’t really talking about such a literal image. The White was more ethereal. More sublime than these simple cloud reflections.
“There’s the sculpture. Have you seen it?” CM pointed to The Angel of the Lake, lovely in the green glow of the late afternoon light, her arm raised high to the lake. What a different view of her from ON the lake instead of standing next to her or beside her. She really was the keeper of the lake, majestic and magical this calm evening. (It had been windy all day, but the gusts had died down for their canoe ride. Though today, the WIND is back, and more ferocious than anything PP has ever seen in California. They have weather here in the Midwest, that’s for sure. A tree branch cracked off next to the residency house, dangling in splinters. The frame holding the fantasy grand piano’s donor's card, blown over as PP played Debussy, shattering the glass. Now back in her little room, trying to recall last night’s calm lake canoeing, the hurricane is approaching, or so it seems to her.
Really, it can’t be, can it?
But, back to the Angel of the Lake, PP is certain she’s fine today. She’s so strong and still. Guarding the lake through all weather!
“Did you see that?” CM pointed out, a loud splash to the side of the canoe, PP glanced around, uneasy.
“Maybe it was the SNAKE!” CM laughed. She’s from the Midwest even though she now lives, teaches and paints in Arizona.
PP shuddered, “Nah…..it was over on the other side of the lake, near all that grass,” PP points to the far side of the lake, where a lone fishing boat floats lazily.
“Okay, let’s head over there!” CM teased.
“Sure…” PP agreed, but really she’d be happy not to see the snake again. CM had lots of snake stories. She’d stepped on a rattlesnake on a walk with her husband in the suburbs of Tucson, and she’d seen lots of lake snakes swimming in lakes in Missouri. She thought that the one PP had spied was a Water Moccasin.
“Are they poisonous?” PP had asked her as they rowed over toward the grassy shore.
“Oh, yeah, their quite venomous,” CM assured her as they took a detour down a little inlet. “Let’s check this out first, the hermitage is in here. Whatdya think?”
”Sure,” PP agreed, paddling spastically. Anything to avoid seeing the Black Lake Snake again! Esp. now that she knew from an Artist Snake Authority that they were ‘quite venomous! Eeegads! Maybe no swimming in the lake for her after all. Or maybe that’s why you need a Friar—they can throw some godly curse at the poisonous water vipers and voila—the lake will be snake free for a friar supervised swim!
“Wonder if there’s friar in the little hermitage and I can get him to watch me swim,” PP joked. “Or hey, how about we can just rip all of our clothes off and go skinny dipping when we get to his little house!”
CM chuckled, “You know, I’m not so keen about swimming in the lake as you are, but it’d almost be worth it. You really are a mermaid aren’t you?”
“My family crest is a Mermaid with a book,” she announced, pleased as she pulled up to the hermitage.
‘Wow, how cool. I should be in your family,” PP cooed, “That’s me". A writing, reading Mermaid. What’s your name?” It’s so strange that PP didn’t even know her last name and now discovers that she’s Irish and has Mermaid Literary Ancestors. Is that what a crest is even? Whatever. It’s no wonder she gets along with CM so well!
”Here, hold the canoe here at the dock for a minute, I wanna see if anyone is in there? I’m such a bad girl!” CM chuckled wickedly. She was definitely one of those Catholic School girls that hadn’t been to Church in 30 years, but still wanted to fuck with the Authority. Climbing up onto the dock, she peered into the hermitage. “There’re some lights on. I think someone’s in there!”
PP thought about stripping off her clothes and diving right in then and there, but then spied a HUGE orange fish flash beneath the canoe. Damn! It wasn’t a snake, but it was still alive. CM spied it too as she climbed back into the canoe.
“You still wanna go swimming with those big fish down there? What if one of those nibbled on your little toes?” she giggled as PP shook her head, reconsidering her skinny dippy plan.
Rowing now toward the Snake part of the Lake, PP gazed behind her as a full moon was rising in the misty clouds. “Look behind you, C!” she called out.
“Wow! How cool is that? Wonder if I can get a picture?” CM had already tried to get a photo of a little turtle they’d spied on a log. It didn’t really come out, but it was still cute. Now the camera wanted to flash with the moon, which was just not right, so CM gave up and they drifted along. 3 laughing fishermen scooted past them and PP hollered over to them, “What’re you fishing for?” wondering if they were gonna fry up any of the mighty goldfish.
“Bluetail and Gab” one of them yelled back. PP was sure she’d heard this last fish name wrong, but it started with a G. You get the idea though; they really were fishing for real fish in the lake.
“Looks like we got ourselves Lewis and Clark over here!” another of them hollered at PP and CM, laughing loudly.
“Lewis and Clark!” CM grinned. “I wanna be the most adventurous one!”
“I think they both were,” PP guessed, not ever really thinking of them before as two individuals at all.
Paddling back along the grassy slope, PP glanced down into the inky depths. No snake thank God. But maybe he was lurking down there; it was just too Black in the Black and White light to spy him. Shuddering, PP turned to watch the fishermen drift off, laughing when a loud SLUUURPPPP!!!! rang out on the lake’s surface. Of course, she shrieked—high pitched and loudly, cracking CM up. “What’s the matter?” she asked.
“Nothing.....but I think the Snake is down there,” PP pointed.
CM stopped paddling and peered down into the inky depths. “I don’t see anything. Maybe it’s just your imagination. You writers! Hey did I tell you I did a painting of Snake in the Lake thanks to you?”
“Really?” PP asked, but still nervous about the slurping sound. Maybe it had just been her imagination tonight. But the other day, it definitely was not. She definitely had heard and seen that huge, black slinking SNAKE IN THE LAKE!!!!
CM resumed paddling softly, the full moon now lighting their way back, the conference of picnicking Catholics gone now. (I had no idea that Catholics were so loud,” PP had commented when they’d first paddled out. CM had laughed as they discussed the Catholic Aspect of the Mary Anderson Center for the Arts. “I hear some very interesting conversations at lunch. Thinks like, ‘I’m gonna go check out that Crucifix this afternoon. Things like that.”
PP had nodded. She didn’t really get the crucifix thing. It just seemed so twisted and gory. Those Catholics really seemed to be into some sort of ethereal S&M. “But I’ll let you in on a little secret....really it’s all about Mary,” CM had confided seriously, as they drifted along the water’s surface.
Mary. Snakes. Angels. Goldfish. Catholics. Mermaids. Books. Turtles. Moonlight.
What else did the Mary Anderson Center for the Arts hold for PP in the next few weeks?
Bumping into the dock, CM and PP giggled as they heaved themselves out of the canoe, gazing up at the moon.
“Will you look at that?” CM murmured.
And PP did, look at that. And so much more….