Tarmac ribbons criss-crossing the landscape, dusty back roads twisting between the cool shadows of ancient pines, and less traveled pathways connecting present to past, all I wander, seeking, seeing, with my keyboard and camera capturing scenes and stories to share with you.

Now in its fifth year, this venue has become an important part of my life, a place where I can express my thoughts and feelings about the things I see and do, hoping the process brings me a bit closer to friends and family who enjoy sharing my sometimes chaotic and often nonlinear observations and ideas. A journal, I suppose, but one with which I find pleasure in thinking others are alongside me on my journey.

August 9, 2016

OF SEEING STARS AND SCULPTURE

... after liz and i had planned our prince edward island wanderabout john called and asked if i'd like to go with him to "stellafane," the annual gathering of amateur and professional telescope makers and star watchers ... it was to be the day after we returned from the maritimes, so in advance i knew i'd be exhausted, but, without a moment's hesitation, i agreed ...

... after a short three-hour drive and setting up camp alongside the dark woods at the extreme edge of the site, we walked to the clearing at the top of the mountain ... there we found literally hundreds of telescopes undergoing assembly, tuning, and then being aimed towards mars and saturn, first to appear in the evening sky ...

... below the horizon was a field aglow with the faint red lights of enthusiasts who, like me, knew to lower their voices in reverence when from the darkened sky the great arch of the milky way slowly appeared ... john best captured the scene in full, i was more interested in how skimming almost within reach above my head a reef of wispy clouds somehow managed to mingle and merge with the millions of stars that are billions of miles away ...

... john found a new tripod head at the swap meet ... personally, i've a feeling john's never met a tripod head he didn't like ... 

... if i recall correctly, this telescope is over eighty years old ... the owner won a prize for his work restoring it ...

... a young girl excitedly waiting for the judges ... later that evening she would be called up to the microphone to accept an award ... i saw the look on her face and i thought to myself, "there is, indeed, hope for america" ...

 ... at the swap meet, a classic large-format schneider kreuznach lens ... you would need a good-sized suitcase to carry the camera for which this was designed ... 

... the clockwork of a telescope that took seven years to build ... it's a perfect scaled replication of an antique refractor ... two gentlemen took the original apart, measured and recorded it, restored it, then each spent the seven years building their own scaled version ... needless to say, they won a great many of the awards ...

... apparently i'd not recovered from the miles of driving and excessive sun i got on prince edward island, so on saturday afternoon i ended up hiding out and drinking a lot of water to bring myself down from what i'm sure was an almost serious case of heat exhaustion ... the next day we packed up camp (read that, "john packed up camp") and headed home the "long way around" ... john navigated us to the home of augustus saint-gaudens, which is now a national historic site ...

 ... among many things, saint-gaudens is well known for being the artist who sculpted the design for what many believe to be the most beautiful of american coins, the $20 double eagle ...
National Numismatic Collection 
... there are many different works presented, i especially the like semi-impressionistic creations, such as this one done by the artist-in-residence ...

... john was excited to add a new stamp to his little "passport" book ... darn, can you imagine what mine would look like if pa had started us doing this ...

... i was absolutely fascinated by this relief ... when viewed straight on the face appears perfectly proportioned, but from the side it's clear that the nose is canted perhaps 15° off axis ... how remarkably clever ...

... i sat down ... luckily, it was only a few minutes before i saw john wandering out the archway, otherwise it's quite possible i'd still be there ...

... of his words he is most remembered for a rather short quote, but, uttered at the very eve of the civil war, this most fascinates me (be assured, the read's well worth your time):

"You people of the South don't know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don't know what you're talking about. War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it … Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth — right at your doors. You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail."

... as a history teacher, i find this a perfect one-paragraph description of the civil war ... william tecumseh sherman said it four months before the first shots were fired ...

... i've forgotten the specifics, but i recall that this sculpture is of a native american warrior ... 

... we met the "artist in residence" ... (when i find the little card he gave me i'll edit in his name) morgan dummitt was very interesting, and, from the work surrounding him, also remarkably talented ...

 ... it had me at cobwebs ...

... for the most part, i managed to resist, but my resolve failed me when i came across this little flower ...

... during the civil war almost 10% the soldiers in the union army were black, and, despite a century of state-sponsored curriculum's attempts to erase this fact, it has become more and more clear that in 1865 major martin r. delaney was exactly right:

"Do you know that if it was not for the black men this war  never would have been brought to a close with success to the Union, and the liberty of your race, if it had not been for the Negro.  I want you to understand that."

... we left, smiling ...

... make a plan, then take your own little wanderabout to saint-gaudens national historic site ... i promise, you'll be glad you did ...