*This is the second in a series of four chronicling a journey of living outside one’s comfort zone and trying to discover a new path. An artist in residency at the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee and Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi confronted and educated while teaching acceptance.
My dawn and dusk Mississippi prayer includes sitting in silence, being present, and appreciating nature. Critters are abundant here. This city girl is experiencing stalking gators to sunbathing snakes dangling on tree limbs. Everything is new, strange, and out of routine.
As the artist residency continues at the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee and Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge, a touch of homesickness hit. Miss my husband, golden retriever puppy, Vietnamese sandwiches, and Trader Joe’s. An invite to the Mississippi State University art galleries and department was just in time. Gallery Director Lori Neuenfeldt welcomed and provided a tour. A highlight of the current exhibit was Fatima Curiel’s Stratum and surprise on the back of a bathroom stall:
The “graffiti” here at the Refuge is surprisingly polite by lacking the vulgarity I’m used to:
On Saturday, provided an artist talk with pattern tour. Visitors were escorted on a pattern excursion on the Cypress Cove Recreational Boardwalk. They observed and listened by expressing in a sketch what the refuge meant to them. Each drawing was unique and wonderful.
All week, been wearing Susan O’Malley’s BE HERE NOW pin. On a morning walk, I stopped to take photos of the water’s patterns. The pin fell off my apron into the muddy waters. To this outsider, these waters are dangerous. Hunted down a large branch and struggled to push the pin to the edge. No success. It just went deeper, became muddier, and disappeared into the abyss.
Why wasn’t it secured tightly? How could I lose this sacred artifact in Mississippi? I was angry and disappointed with my lifelong battle with awkwardness.
This is what Susan would have wanted: to be here now. Life isn’t secure, it’s fragile, and can be lost at anytime. Accept and embrace the moment was the only option. I felt comforted and able.