From Starving Artist to Landless Peasant

Three Butterflies"
Three Butterflies”

Self-pity is an ugly thing, but I may have slipped into it for a few hours yesterday. I go for a walk every day to find something beautiful to paint in Deepswamp, GA, but yesterday I was evicted from the woods.

Finding something beautiful to paint in St. Augustine, Fl was easy. Same for when we lived in the foothills of North Carolina. Deepswamp is more of a challenge, but I figured it’s…well a challenge, not the end of the world. I can find something.

Yesterday I was walking in the woods and heard a big splash as I approached the lake. Four Canadian geese had jumped into the lake. “Oh boy, this is great,” I thought. “I’ll just sneak around here and get some photos.”

Just then a chunky lady with a hairdo drove up in an SUV. “Where do you live?” she asked. I told her. “You are tresspassing,” she said. I told her I had been given permission by the owner four years ago, though I had to admit, the man had since died.

“They don’t want people back here,” she said. I asked if she was the woman to whom I wrote my rent check every month. She seemed taken aback, but did not answer. “You have to leave,” she said. I simply looked at her in silence for a few beats and said, “All right,” and left.

Whoever “they” were, they were using the land as a garbage dump and tearing it up with tractors. I, on the other hand, was merely walking quietly through the woods. “Some people shouldn’t OWN land,” I thought. People who have no respect-or use-for it. But that’s inheritance for you.

I thought of all the landless peasants throughout history and took up some of their resentment. “Bread, peace and land,” Lenin promised. Sounded good to them, sounds good to me. Or the Enclosure Movement in England that just kicked people off the commons to go starve beside the highways. As a remedy, they made it illegal to wander down the highway (vagabonds.) Go die out of sight somewhere.

Taking on all the grievances of all the dispossessed is bad for your mental attitude. I couldn’t paint worth a damn when I got home. I knew I had to get over it or sacrifice my creativity. I had not succeeded by bed time, but this morning I felt better. I will commit civil disobedience and walk on the OTHER side of the woods. Miss Hairdo will not find me because she never gets out of her SUV and actually puts her feet on the good earth.

This morning I painted “Three Butterflies” which were flitting all over the lantana yesterday. I told them to hurry up and do their lepidoptera thing-winter is coming!


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