Belonging


20170223_125323melissabluefineart.com

I just finished this painting this afternoon and am pretty excited about it. This is my very first memory. It took place shortly after my mom married my step-dad, and he took us out to the redwood forest that grew behind his little cottage. I will never forget how I felt, standing before that spongy, felty red log sprouting Β ferns and moss. I felt a Presence there, enveloping me and claiming me. I was flooded with a sense of belonging. Even though that stand of redwoods has been clearcut, never to return, it lives on in my heart. The Presence I felt there has been my guiding light ever since.

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34 thoughts on “Belonging

    • melissabluefineart says:

      Yes, a gift from the forest but a bittersweet memory. I didn’t feel comfortable sharing more of the story in my post. My biological father is a violent man, and my mother fled. I think getting a divorce at that time was not an accepted thing, and she carried a great deal of shame. Also it was very clear that neither she nor my elder sister were pleased that I had arrived. I knew, as children do, that I was an unwelcome burden to my mother and that my sister resented me. Of course, now I know that she resents everybody but at the time it was pretty awful! So all of my life up to that moment were filled with a sense of not belonging. This was the first moment that I felt wanted, by something far beyond my human family. I feel like I’m being rather self-pitying, but it appears that little girl was more angry than I knew and has been wanting to speak her piece! All of that said, I am deeply grateful for that moment.

      • Eliza Waters says:

        Thank you for sharing your story, Melissa. That takes courage, but a necessary step in healing an old wound. Nature is the greatest healer and every day I am grateful for it. I always come away renewed after drinking from its well of Oneness. πŸ™‚

  1. circadianreflections says:

    What a wonderful memory captured in your own painting! It’s beautiful.
    I love the light, the ferns, and the color of the redwoods. Your dress reminds me of one my mom made me…mine was turquoise but very similar. I’ve never hiked or strolled through the forest in a dress though. Your fashion Diva is/was stronger than mine. πŸ™‚

    I too have very fond memories of hiking and backpacking in the redwoods, and High Sierras with my parents. To this day when I’m in the woods, and forests I find my Zen place.

    • melissabluefineart says:

      Thank you Deborah! As I was painting it it occurred to me that I probably wasn’t ever in the pink dress while in the woods, but I remember the pink dress so vividly that is how I decided to portray myself. Too funny now that you point it out~ me, a fashion diva πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ That pink dress was with me for years because I stayed small. I remember my mom kept letting down the hem until finally my dad yelled, “enough! get her a new dress!” It is so neat that you had a similar one in turquoise.
      I’m glad that you also have memories of hiking in the trees with your parents. We are lucky.

  2. Gunta says:

    What a delightful place to ‘belong’! I remember my first sight of a redwood back in 1968. I’ve always felt like I was in ‘church’ when visiting a Redwood grove. There’s a stillness that invites worship to be found there. Love the painting and these stretches you’re doing.

      • Andy Oldham says:

        You have a wonderful talent. Continue to use it and write short excerpts of it like you did this one. The most important thing is to get you memories communicated so you great, great, >>>>grand children will know you and hang your work on their walls with a greater appreciation. Oh, thanks for following my blog too. πŸ˜ƒ

  3. shoreacres says:

    I’ve always enjoyed knowing that Grace Cathedral in San Francisco has an altar made of redwood. It seems to acknowledge the profound connection between grove and sanctuary, and to somehow bless the experiences so many people have among those great trees: yours included.

    I smiled at your phrase about the “spongy, felty red log.” As large as they are, the redwoods always seemed to me a bit blurred around the edges: a little soft themselves,and kindly disposed to all the communities that grow up around them — human and otherwise.

    I recently learned that the fog is important to them because they can’t pump moisture all the way to the top. Instead, the tree draws moisture from the fog, high above the ground. Who wouldn’t love a tree that beautifully adapted and creative? I’m glad you found a place among them.

    • melissabluefineart says:

      That is very poetic, isn’t it? I loved how you put that, that the redwoods seem a bit blurred around the edges. Just so~ that is just how they are. They are indeed kindly disposed to the people around them. Did you know that they will regenerate from the stump if they are given half a chance? Clear-cuts of course, destroy their chances. If only humans would be kindly disposed toward them. It is true about the fog. I’ve read some sources say that as the ocean warms there will be less fog, which bodes ill for them. What a marvel of adaptation they have been, for so very long. Oh, humans, ease up!

  4. Steve Schwartzman says:

    It’s good to find you among the redwoods. It brings back my experiences from just 4 months ago.

    New Zealand has had a similar history with its kauri trees. Most of those giants got cut down in the 19th and early 20th century. Some survive in nature preserves.

  5. melissabluefineart says:

    It baffles me, this need of humans to destroy the cool stuff. There are lesser trees, and there are forests more amenable to sustainable forestry. But no. The ones in power aren’t happy until they’ve destroyed the irreplaceable.

  6. Myriam (Myr's Bytes) says:

    What a beautiful first memory! And so beautifully said and painted – “spongy, felty red log sprouting ferns and moss”. The colours in the digital photo of the painting look right to me; they remind me of the woods in and near Vancouver – the oranges and greens glow when it has rained recently. So sad that many of these forests are now gone. But at least some remain. Thanks for sharing your wonderful memory! πŸ™‚

  7. Inga says:

    This brightened my eyes with tears. Beautiful artwork, beautiful words. It resonates deeply, so similar was my youth. Thank you for sharing.

    • melissabluefineart says:

      I had a feeling when I read your posts that here was a kindred spirit. Nobody else seemed to “hear” what I was really trying to say. Thank you. Your posts resonate deeply with me as well.

  8. Steve Gingold says:

    Your post and memory reminded me of one of my own. My grandparents had a cabin in the Adirondacks in Northern New York near the Great Sacandaga Reservoir (now called a lake). There were miles of forest behind the cabin and I spent hours exploring back there. It was a great place for a child’s imagination. You look like a lovely child. πŸ™‚

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