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A dozen wooden easels saluted the ocean’s demise. Invisible muses whispered the cove’s secrets to twelve artists, each tasked with washing away morphing shadows on the spiraling tower.
The timeless structure was carved out of stone and masonry which fused its curved Gothic architecture into the jagged ocean cliff with a winding stone staircase leading down into the Cove. Morning sky pink kissed ocean blue as a faint crescent moon melted into the atmosphere with the arrival of the sun. The light play within the cove’s landscape and tower were the subject of each canvas, yet no two were alike. Each interpretation was absolute and eerily precise in each artist’s mind. The dark grays and tans infused in the merger between man and nature were conjured by diversity. Individual interpretations cast shadows on the stone tower and defined the perimeters between light and dark, demanding acknowledgment of their respective place in each artist’s view. Some granted the light generous reprieve spun in golden amber. Others manifested the dark by infusing the monolithic structure with shadowy outlines.
Liquid lace scallops deposited endless strings of translucent pearls floating a bead of iridescence along water’s edge inside the cove as seashell scavengers paid daily homage to the visual splendor. The temporary artist encampment captured the curiosity of Elliot Bass, a local historian with over three decades of beach sand crusted inside the lining of his windbreaker. He was suddenly overcome with strange terror while observing the artistic renderings.
Current Genre: Historical Fiction
Current Music: Works of Jethro Tull
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We slept beneath open windows with screens filtering the scents of jasmine, climbing roses, pink geraniums and Japanese plums. Aah, summers in the Big Easy!
Some days, our bikes would glide like the wind, jump familiar curbs and land in City Park, where for $3.50, we could rent paddle boats or canoes for one hour of mayhem on the mossy citron-crusted lagoons. Other days, we’d take the long ride to the lakefront and watch the sailboat races while sprawled on beach towels with spearmint snow cones and teen magazines.
Then there was my tenth summer….the endless summer.
Hurricane Betsy landed in New Orleans in the middle of the night and dispersed her wrath from the shores of Lake Pontchartrain to the banks of the mighty Mississippi. Her wicked winds thundered through the air like howling wolves, hungry for destruction. Before nights end, her spiraling tentacles struck the base of the massive oak tree across the street; its branches busting through our living room window and stopping cars in their tracks. It took seven days to get the power back on in Lakeview, ten days more before St. Anthony’s would re-open. So for two weeks, I was crowned queen of the tree fairies.
Perched atop my uncontested throne, I owned the neighborhood, halting all challengers and forcing them to creep backward down the street while paying homage to me and my mighty oak.
I made friends with confused squirrels and ate breakfast with robins and sparrows. Those endless days were my first real lesson in human nature, offering a unique vantage point while camouflaged beneath nature’s canopy in the center of the street.
Within a few days, bicycles owned the street, bringing more and more kids to climb and sit on parts of my domain that had never before felt human arms and legs. They were all anointed my knights and maids-in-waiting.
The summer ended abruptly the day the tree crew came to dissolve my kingdom. I was glad school was back in session, for if I had witnessed the abolishment of my throne, I might have staged an embarrassing protest that I couldn’t possibly win. And deep inside, I knew if I had watched the once-majestic giant humbled into manageable stumps and carted off in a dump truck, a part of me would have died. And when that first car drove past our house, making it to the end of the block, I might have pitched a cherished acorn at it.
Strange how quickly a taste of power can manifest and take root…and how just as quickly, it can be snatched away.
Never underestimate the power of a tree.
Current Genre: Personal Memoirs
Current Music: “Our House” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young