Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An American Exile: Screw the elements…and while I’m at it, screw you too!

After a week in the Porcupine Mountains, Pam and I headed east again. While we enjoyed the beauty of the area and the many waterfalls, we were really looking forward to seeing the amazing features of the Lake Superior shoreline in the Pictured Rocks area. We drove to the Bay Furnace campsite in Christmas, Michigan and set up camp once more.

On the first day, we took some time to set up our campsite, do some laundry and, again, recharge all of our batteries. We found a great little coffee place in Munising called the Falling Rock Café, plugged in and grabbed some great coffee. While we were waiting for laundry and waiting for batteries we got a pasty…Michigan’s strange version of a calzone. That was interesting but the cinnamon rolls were out of this world. For the next several days, we would spend lots of time here, drinking coffee, using the Internet and pouring through the stacks of old books in their collection.

I found a strange old book their called Hunting with a Flashlight and a Camera. Looking through the pictures in this book, I was reminded of some of the photographs in the Hastings Nature Museum at Interlochen. Walter E. Hastings was somewhat of a naturalist who hunted with his camera. The pictures he took of deer with a strobe flash always amused me. The clash of nature and technology was never so obvious and the resulting “deer in the headlights” images were far too much to bear without a chuckle.

Over the next few days we explored the Pictured Rocks area. Pam drew and painted some more and I hiked and photographed like crazy. It seems I was really in a groove and my creative drive had clearly stuffed all of my anxiety way down into a deep place. I was feeling something I hadn’t felt in a while...optimism. I could clearly feel that becoming an artist again was a process that was going to see me through this transition.

I think the sign that things had finally started to turn was that the weather was not bothering me anymore. I was driven to make more work, my vision was becoming more focused, I was really starting to feel a sense that I was in control and I reveled in being out in the elements. This exile of mine had turned from something oppressive to a journey of transformation. I could feel the victim in me fading away and I could feel my confidence re-emerging. No, the weather wasn’t bothering me at all. In fact, I was feeling irreverent. “Screw the elements,” I reminded myself…”and while I’m at it screw you too!” I felt my old self a little bit, ready to kick ass and take names later. But that would have to wait. First, I had some art to make.

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