Monday, April 20, 2009

I Dream a Jungle

I dreamed we lived in a huge green place, with rolling hills and long vistas of blue distance, dappled by cloud shadows. Each day after school I would fly my bike over my favorite route, taking me past the great trees on the bluffs overlooking the valleys, and down long winding dirt roads through fields of tall green grass rippled by the wind. The sun was warm, the rays were long and low and golden.

And at the end of each day's ride, as the shadows were their longest, I passed the edge of our continent, where it hung out over the sea like a long shelf. Cliffs near the edge rose from a narrow swampy place, hemming it in. The low thin strip of ground was overgrown with huge ferns, trees hung with lianas and orchids, and mossy boulders and fallen trunks. It was a place of ominous quiet, mystery, and beauty, and I always got off and walked my bike past it, right on the edge of the shelf, with the sea a short drop to my right, and the narrow one hundred foot wide strip of jungle to my left, with the cliffs rising behind it.

The first time I passed, there were frogs in the trees and turtles on the moss. Nothing out of the ordinary. Bright birds flew silently through the trees. But the next time I passed the birds and frogs were gone and the trees were hung with large constricting snakes. They ignored me, and I somehow knew that they couldn't leave this narrow place - the rest of our land was safe from them. The next time I passed the snakes were gone and the tree trunks were hosting sleeping crocodilians of a prehistoric breed, something I knew would grow to be much larger than the eight feet they had already attained in my dream.

I told my Dad about the alarming changes in the jungle swamp, and he told me not to worry. It would be all right.

But the next day I swam off the shore and under the jungle was a submerged cavern, and in it were larval crocodiles, all feathery and bristly and beautiful, but frighteningly many and they were starting to drift out of the cave into the open sea, and out of the swamp...

It wasn't until my walk this morning that I realized this was a dream about my Dad's rare cancer. Medicine is holding it at bay, for now, but it keeps sneaking into other parts of his body, requiring new intervention.

The illustration above is the first watercolor I did when I resumed painting after being blocked for over twenty years. It's called "A Summer Day." More on that here.

7 comments:

linda said...

steve, I'm sorry to read this is about your dad but was mesmerized by your telling of it...and saw so clearly how, yes, it's about the fears in what cancer can mean and your love for your dad and it's also about the mysterious beauty and overflowing gifts of life ~ how it grows and changes, darkness and brilliant light, the gifts of nature, fear in the dark, the excitement in moving, being free, life and death~nothing stays the same and therein is that transitory beauty we cannot really touch for very long, like a long sunbeam, a shadow.

thank you for sharing this...it's beautiful and your painting is so charming ... I can see the evolution of your work looking at it....you have truly come very far but in this painting, I can still see the imagination and color that is the mark of your work.

blessings...

giggles said...

(((Steve)))

Genie Sea said...

I am deeply sorry to hear about your dad.

The dream is magic realism as is the wonderful enchanting painting.

Hugs!

Pagan Sphinx said...

Oh, dear Steve. A big hug to you. I'm thinking of you and your dad and sending warmth and wishes and love.

Your dreams are so vivid and it's not wonder that your lovely paintings are too. When those we love are threatened, it is always such a struggle for the mind and the mind.

Keep the love,
Gina

Liberality said...

I have a prize for you over at my place good sir.

Steve Emery said...

Thank you all so much for the kind thoughts, hugs, and love. Dad is doing remarkably well - that's why he reassured me in the dream, I think... But I can see and feel those crocodilians any time I think back to it. It was a remarkably vivid dream - more than all but a handful from my entire life.

linda said...

i would paint the crocs...
gently and slowly, over time....after all, that's all there is, so they say.

blessings... and now to that award comment ;)