I’ve had this screensaver for months now on my computer. It’s a painting by John Singer Sargent that used to hang here in the Portland Museum of Art. The brilliant curator had hung it at the end of a long, quiet corridor so you got to approach it slowly and appreciate it from various distances. Glen and I discovered it one day and stood there together for a very long time appreciating it–the subtle, exuberant layers of white and the lightest yellow paint for the light on the stairs–it made me so happy, calm, and slightly wistful, and it evoked a long-ago memory that has haunted me for many years of squatting at the foot of my parents’ gray wooden back stairs and playing in the sunlight. (I still wonder what that memory was about. . . it’s the source of a line in capital letters in my book The Encyclopedia of Scotland: (“AT THE FOOT OF FADED GRAY STAIRS”. . . Here’s me standing on those stairs c. 1970:
A few days ago I was wondering about the Sargent painting, when and whether I would ever change my screensaver. I’ve had the stairs there for so long, and they’ve been inspiring me with the excitement of discovery. . . but lately I’ve been noticing the corner at the top of the stairs, and wondering what’s around that bend. Still, I couldn’t imagine what could ever replace those singing, operatic stairs.
And then this morning, the day after a wonderful journey with my local shamans which connected me joyfully with masculine divine energy and the spirit of the woods, I received this photo of fiddleheads in an email from Cathy Taylor. I don’t think I know Cathy personally; she may have been associated with last year’s Wild Weeds Poetry Contest on this blog, because that phrase was in the address field. Cathy’s fiddleheads have become my new screensaver! Thank you, Goddess, spring, and Cathy, not to mention the Green Man whose energy these ferns convey to me so deeply, for their gorgeous, searching, eloquent new beauty.