Chasing Down The Muse: Finding beauty wherever we are

"Wanna go to a movie?"

My youngest daughter's call rouses me from the Sunday crossword puzzle.

I hesitate for a brief moment, not even lifting my head.

"Nope. The day is just too beautiful to be inside. Sorry."

And the day is gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous! A far-off view of Catalina across miles is marred only by a line of dingy gray at the surface just below the island. The sky is a beautiful cerulean blue with not a single cloud. The sun shines warm on my skin. The light fragrance of pittosporum flowers reaches my nostrils as I breathe in the wonder of the day. No way am I going to sit in a dark theater today. Not on this day.

Rain showers are due mid-week and, while we have had several days of this fantastic weather, I have been inside most of the time with my nose buried in a computer. So the opportunity that this Sunday offers is not to be wasted.

First, I begin with the tasks — pleasurable, but still under the category of things to be done, or chores.

Feed the birds. I have been a bit remiss in this lately, and the hummingbirds have been buzzing the windows in search. They come right up to the glass, wings fluttering faster than is to even be believed, and appear to be looking right at me, daring me to come forth with their food. Some hang out in the top branches of the elm tree, looking somewhat forlorn. Or do I only imagine this? In any case, today, I finally see to their needs.

Feed the plants. The plants, battered and bruised by December's heavy rains, have been looking a bit bedraggled. Spring is not too far off and feeding the many plants will pay off in flowers and abundant foliage soon enough. As I mix the plant food, my mind's eye can already see the myriad colors and textures, smell the subtle fragrances of the blooms to come.

Next, I move into the studio and drag out some large and small canvases that need to have gesso applied and be otherwise prepped for the fun part to come of creating. Moving the white gesso across the canvases, I begin to plan for the time of creation to come as images appear in my imagination.

Finished with this last task, I return to sit on the deck, feet up, to finish the crossword puzzle. Birds chatter in the trees. A cool breeze ruffles my hair. Workday sounds are stilled. Peace lingers in the canyon. I am thoroughly enjoying my day.

These winter months are "the fallow time." This phrase takes on new meaning as on this spring-like day I see the fallow time filled with preparing. We are fortunate here to have these days in between. Opportunities abound that others in this world are not blessed to experience.

Yes, many here were hit hard by the storms of December and are still digging out, still struggling to find their way. Yet, things are beginning to look a bit better for even the hardest hit. It is my hope that they can hang on and find the fortitude to continue through their own, much more difficult, fallow time. Hopefully, new "bloom" is on the horizon for them as well.

Beauty may not be lasting — even in nature — but while it is with us I long to enjoy it as much as I can. The upcoming three-day holiday weekend seems to be promising more rain. Perhaps the upside of this is that the Sawdust Studio Art Classes (http://www.sawdustartfestival/studio-classes) will fill up with folks looking for something to do indoors. Certainly, handmade jewelry pendants and ceramics are beautiful too!

In the end, I recall Ralph Waldo Emerson's words, "Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not." Here's to all of us finding the beautiful — wherever we are, whatever we are doing!

CHERRIL DOTY is an artist, writer, counselor…always fascinated, inspired, and titillated by the beauty and mysteries of life. She can be reached at or by phone at (714) 745-9973.

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