Faraway, Yet Near

Near the entrance to the amazing Chiricahua National Monument, is the original homestead of the Riggs family, called “Faraway Ranch”. The family settled there and then founded “The Wonderland of Rocks”, later becoming  “The Chiricahua National Monument”.

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Entrance to Faraway Ranch – 24″x 20″ – Oil – (Photo from older photograph, maybe early 2000. I do not remember where this original painting is now – nor the title ).

It is a beautiful walk into the ranch area, you feel yourself coming home in a way… it warms you as you come closer to pass by the old buildings past the fence, on the trail that leads to the main house.

There was something really odd while I was there one day, walking back from the house toward the old buildings. I do not know what the buildings were… work sheds, out-buildings maybe. But I thought for sure there were chickens there at one time.

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Wooden Fence at Faraway – about 20″x 14″ – Watercolor

I loved the pathway that passed this fence, and the light through the trees… the calm light gracing everything. It was peaceful. Yet, for just a moment I thought a woman walked by me with a basket of eggs in her hand, walking on this pathway. But there was no one there.

Everywhere there was evidence of lives lived, hearts given, times gone by.

Maybe that’s why these paintings came to mind this new year. Yesterday I read of someone else’s experience of his life lived, of the memories now being longer than the time remaining, of the “owning” of our own imminent bodily death. But then, “And then I lift my head and look about me at the river and the valley, the great, unearned beauty of this place, and I feel the memoryless joy of a man just risen from the grave..”

The memoryless joy of a man just risen from the grave…. a new creation, in resurrection life. Gone is the old and the new is here. Jesus said He is making all things new. All things. Not only now, in this life and the ages to come for those who believe, but all things.

Our time on this earth may be a shadow, or passing wind, but in Him is Life… His Life never ends. His Being IS, WILL BE, WAS…. of His kingdom there is no end.

So here, I look about me at…the great, unearned beauty of this place, and feel joy. I am grateful for this life/time that remains on earth, until we go home.

It really is a gift.

 

Community Library

I was reminded of this work by a post on FaceBook by the people who run the George Walker House Bed and Breakfast in Paradise, Arizona. It snowed there today.  But I’m not writing about them today, even though you might look them up on the web. They are expert birders, chocolate makers, and talented stained glass makers, as well as gracious hosts.

There are about nine different biomes in the “Sky Islands” area of Arizona, New Mexico  and Mexico, ranging from arid desert to 7000 ft. mountains.  Different plants and animals survive and thrive in desert and mountains, and it is one of the most prominent birding places, being on a migrational route. But I am not writing today about the natural splendor of the area, or the National Monument, (though I will in the future), today only about a community in the Chiricahua Mountains that is named “Portal”.

The climate and acclaim of Portal draws people from all over the United States, many upon retirement. Portal lays claim to a very educated population, bringing with them their expertise in all matters of science including stargazing, biology, geography, history, entomology, and more. The Chiricahua Gallery is there, with some very good art and some of community interest. Many people volunteer to “sit the gallery” to keep it available, and they offer community lessons in art. They are worthy of acclaim as well, as active and knowledgeable as they all are. However, that is not what I am writing about today, either.

In the center of the charming hamlet is an old school building, that has been converted into a library, setting immediately next to the post office.

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Portal Library – Watercolor

Sycamore tree and American Flag by the porch of the post office. Both are watercolor.

The second flag painting is a tribute to 9-11. There are watermarks on these images, just not as apparent as Tom’s painting.

The library in itself is a special little place, having a fine selection of books and friendly volunteers. The volunteers that make it even greater, offering library help, but also special activities throughout the year for children and adults. It is a community gathering place. Many “meet and greet” at the post office and library.

The Library painting hangs in the Library in Portal. It is an honor to “hang” there. I do not remember where the other two are, but I loved painting them. I love the sycamore tree, the creek running near by, and the memory of times there.

Portal also boasts of an exceptional all volunteer fire department and rescue.

I enjoy working in watercolor at special times, when I want to cozy in and work smaller. It is a special mode to sketch in the drawing, working from light to dark – instead of dark to light as in oil painting. Leaving the white spaces bright enough is vital. While working, watercolor is a much more precise medium than oils – there is little room for error, even though in other ways there is so much more freedom.  I keep some rags ready for absorbing. My brushes are always Windsor & Newton Series 7 – I think they are the best in every way. My paints are usually either Windsor & Newson or Daniel Smith.  I really like the heavier watercolor paper, preferably Arches 300 lb. rough or cold press, (but I do not scrub much).