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Friday, March 11, 2011


(dbl click on photos, please)

I picked up this book, PERSONAL SCULPTURE, by Geoge H. Meyer (1992) at our branch library in WHite Springs this afternoon; the library was my final stop of several, including the front door of Spring Street Antiques (shown above). I'd been around back, photographing what I assumed was the worst of the damage from Tuesday's fire; after all, the water oak had demolished the back half of the roof and set the fire, scattering blackened furniture and silverware all around. Howard Tower who, with his wife, Patti, owns the property, was poking through the trash beyond the "GET BACK" rope between us.

Howard said this was "an act of God"; but in White Springs we have lost our beautiful shop--this lovely museum where light fell through yellow glassware, shone on cases of old silver, lit jewelry queens must have worn--an especially hard happening since, already, in the past few months The River Diner with 4 seasons of Suwannee Valley painted on its walls went out of business; the family grocery run by the Stormants closed and, earlier, Janet Moses had shut up her artsy and curious shop. Even the consignment store I'd thought would do well in these hard times folded. That left the fire station, the post office, and SPRING STREET ANTIQUES, always a welcoming place, whether I bought or not, the prettiest establishment on the main drag, and in a house that had survived the 1911 fire that took out dozens of houses and hotels.

There are still concrete yard sculptures on the grounds, undamaged, but Howard says they will sell the lot, the house is ruined. I got quite a shock when I walked around front; at a distance it had appeared intact but, up close, everything beyond its purple door was black. Fire might be said to sculpt, though I don't think the charring of wood here was as deliberate as the creation of what we usually call sculpture. Here, the timbers are shiny and ringed as though bitten by the teeth of the fire. That's a leap, but look at the proof:

On the day of the latest tsunami and one day after the news that, at the state capital, putting golf courses into state parks like Payne's Prairie and San Felasco Hammock is being considered, the sad fact of this burning house which held so many beautiful things--this black shell--doesn't put me in the mood to credit a god. But maybe I'm just discouraged by all the other damage collecting on the planet. Seems to me humankind creates a lot of misery, all on its own, though often we give credit to God. This is not in any way to disagree publicly with Howard who meant, I believe, that he accepted the event completely. Would that all our disasters were so patiently embraced.

In this book I picked up are many beautiful sculptures--handmade walking canes: one twisted like a handbraided bread, another with glass eyes embedded, eight small snakes climbing the big snake of the cane itself, the handcarved neck of a guitar, a topless mermaid as the handle on a cane. Canes of willow, maple, beech, polychromed and not, some with names, though rarely. All these designs were made deliberately, over centuries, their shapes and sheens various, imaginative, surprising. I photographed the upturned bottom of the water oak that slammed Spring Street Antiques and took it down. Didn't see a single deliberate mark on it, anywhere, and the photo isn't interesting enough to put here.

There's so much I don't understand, just grateful for eyes to see what's going on, to take in the beauty along with the pain and be glad of the seeing. Speaking of which, here's 2011's first red tulip, opening downstairs this morning:

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