Beauty for All

She sets her easel up as the sun hits the mountains and begins to paint. Watercolor, acrylics and oil paints at her elbow, with brushes for every kind of paint stroke. She imagines bold strokes of color or points of color dotted here and there. It is always a bit of a surprise, even to this painter, what masterpiece will reveal itself. Humble tears come with awe at her vast  powers to create and destroy. Mother Nature pauses for a sip of coffee and then begins to paint wildflowers on the mountain sides and in the meadows. The Crested Butte Wildflower Festival is coming and she will be ready for her yearly show. 

I went to see the show in Crested Butte a couple of weeks ago. It was magnificent. Of course, I had to share the beauty with many other people. I don’t like to share. Growing up I had to share a bedroom, a bathroom, a car and a single fry pan. After church on Sunday we called for our turn with the fry pan so we could make our eggs the way we liked them. Back to Crested Butte….  Susan and I found a perfect trail to view wildflowers, and happily set out. It seemed we had to stop every few feet to take a photo with our phones. I wanted the photo to remember the scene, but also to share with others and get validation about how beautiful the flowers were. After awhile I decided to stop taking photos and enjoy the beauty on my own terms. Selfishly, I didn’t want to share anymore.

But something happened that I had not expected! As I walked along I noticed an elderly couple (I am not that old) naming the flowers and deliberating about those they did not recognize, and finally consulting their wildflower guide.  I recognized the Lupine but they told me that there are many varieties and colors of Lupine and pointed out a silver Lupine. Soon I was following them and asking what this or that flower was and I was focused on their words and the flowers.

We were sharing the flowers! I forgot that I wanted the beauty all to myself and became a member of our group of three. They were enjoying themselves and I was enjoying them enjoying themselves. The flowers became even more beautiful to me because I could name some of them. The bickering between the couple about the names was very sweet, I could see the beauty in their relationship. Susan met up with me later and I was happy to share what was up ahead. 

We are social animals and usually do not live in total isolation from others. We seek solitude to heal and refresh ourselves and then return to our tribe. I have feared being a group member because I would need to perform and try hard to be accepted. As Groucho Marx said “ I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” Being together in the face of great beauty is the glue that holds us together. I suspect that tragedy is also a glue the holds us together. If I focus on what is out there in the world my attention is not on myself and how I am doing. I am present for the sharing and it brings me joy. 

Just remember I get the first turn for the fry pan!


Eau de Wet Canine

Rain. Lots of rain. Dogs and people soaked by big plops of water from the sky. My doggies take time to find the perfect spot for urinating or defecating – rain be damned. They run back in and do the doggie shake boogie, spraying water everywhere and then proceed to their spots on the sofa—evading my attempts to dry their footies. Hence, the wet dog scent permeates my home and nostrils.  Musty, and smelling distinctly stale and a bit moldy. My heart loves the wet canine scent even if my nostrils rebel. Roscoe and Molly are loved wet or dry.

Old Spice. My Dad used Old Spice Aftershave and the scent lingered in the bathroom and on his body. Old Spice meant that Dad was going out—-to church, to visit family or even square dancing. Dad was dressed up if he smelled like Old Spice. My friend says her alcoholic Dad drank Old Spice!  As a teenager in male company I smelled the men’s cologne Brut. The smell was younger than Old Spice and suggested a bit of “the bad boy”.  And we all know how attractive “bad “ boys are! These drugstore scents are part of my olfactory memories. Smells trigger memories.

My Mom got gift bottles of “Evening in Paris”-purchased with hard earned cash by myself and my siblings. When we were children, Mom always said we could get her “Evening in Paris”. Our local variety store had this “perfume” so that’s what we bought.  I put perfume in quotes because calling the scented liquid in the blue bottle “perfume” is a big stretch.  My trained nose says it smelled, and that is the best I can say for it. I was surprised to see that my more sophisticated cousins had perfumes like Chantal No.5.  Perfume can say a lot about someone.

If I pay lots for a bottle of perfume it better improve my image. That whiff of perfume when I get close should say how wonderful, confident and beautiful I am. Nothing has worked so far, so I quit wearing perfume. Never fear, there is always scented soap and body lotion, and the sticky sweet smell of dryer sheets whiffing into the air. No one has marketed perfume that smells like fresh baked bread, freshly brewed coffee or cookies just out of the oven. Why not? I remember arguments with my brothers and sisters about which farm animal shit smelled the worst.  This is a serious subject for farm kids everywhere. If you need to know, I picked pig shit as the excrement with the worst smell. 

So what are we masking with all the scents in our lives?  What do humans smell like? Dogs seem to know what others dogs smell like, but our noses have a much weaker sense of smell. We can smell some dangers, like the scent of gas or fire but mostly we go through our daily lives taking our sense of smell for granted.  Until we smell popcorn being made in the room next to us, or we sniff Play-Doh before we hand it over to our children.

So to make a long smell, short remember that “You stink!” is in the nose of the smeller.