For exercise I used to take walks at night on the grounds of the US Capitol, which once seemed like the most secure place on earth thanks to its large contingent of police officers.  Alas, that was some years ago.  At the time anyone could climb the Capitol steps and look at the National Mall from the terrace.  Being on the terrace put you eye to eye with some birds.  From that height one actually looks down at some trees.  It was very fine on summer evenings, hardly a lonely place even at night with many tourists and joggers around.  At sunset the Mall is radiant, the view from the top of the stairs is superb.  I got into the habit of climbing the stairs, up and down, for as long as endurance lasted.  It was great exercise for both body and mind.

At the base of the Capitol lies a large reflecting pool.  I used to do circuits around it — indeed, around the entire Capitol grounds.  But the pool is what I particularly recall now.  I used to sit and rest a while there, gazing long at the surface waves and their intricate patterns.  I thought it would be the most amazing thing to try capturing that in art.  And ambitious artist that I was (and am), I took my drawing materials and tried diligently to catch that pattern in motion “freehand” (as the saying goes).  I drew some memorable patterns and felt myself more connected to nature as a consequence, but the picture above was painted from a photograph and came from a different pool on other federal grounds.

We need lazy times to think and dream.  I used to cast my worries into those wave patterns and push them off.  I used to find my dreams reflected back to me like echos from the restless ebb and flow of the water.  And all these matters transpired under the great, oceanic, twilight sky. 

To find quiet, look down and look up.

[Top of the post: acrylic painting on canvas, 40 x 60 inches by Aletha Kuschan]

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