It's 5:00 a.m. and I am up before sunrise. In the predawn darkness I gather my thoughts and make a plan for my morning. I need to walk the dog, but I also need to find my muse, my guiding spirit, my inspiration. I have gone almost a month without painting anything significant and every idea I've come up with I lack decent reference for. I'm feeling frustrated and restless. Maybe today will be different. Maybe today I will have a breakthrough.
In the early morning stillness I load the dog and cameras and head off to Mann Lake. The dog can have a good run and maybe I will find a good bird to inspire me. A possible sharp-tailed sandpiper has been seen there (a rare bird for our area) so maybe I will be lucky enough to find it before the dog puts it to flight.
Traveling along a back road I watch the sky change with each passing minute. Orange painted virga clouds descend from the heavens lit by the rising sun. The colors can be so amazing this time of the morning and I want to stop and linger, but I also want to be at the lake just after sunrise, so I keep moving.
A few miles more and a blazing orange sun crests the horizon, momentarily blinding me, then dips back behind a hill and a few clouds and my eyesight returns. As I turn down the road to the lake the emerging sun casts long shadows on the landscape and I pull over to take in the breathtaking view. Surely the sunrise alone could inspire a painting, if only I was a landscape painter and had God's palette......
The view from the lake is every bit as beautiful as the landscape on the drive over. I have arrived in time to see a painted sky and the first flights of ducks and geese coming in to the lake. I turn Balin loose and head down to the water to look for the illusive sandpiper. It's quiet here, no noise from the traffic and I can hear the calls of the various birds on the water and feeding on the shore. It's so quiet in fact that I can hear what sounds like a jet airplane high overhead. I look up to see a bird looking very much like a fighter jet streaking downward like an arrow to the water. What I hear is the sound of the air cutting through it's wings in it's rapid descent. At the last minute it pulls up and I am shocked to see it is a western grebe. I have never seen this bird fly like that and I shake my head in amazement.
It is a wonderful morning to be out, but the sandpiper and my muse elude me. I walk along pondering what I should paint next. The last few paintings seemed to have come to me unbidden and I started to expect that they might all come that easy. And yet, maybe, there was something here for me this morning that I have not yet realized.
Breaking me out of my reverie, Balin races by and sprays me with mud and water in his happy pursuit of all things with wings. Maybe I'm making this harder than it needs to be. Maybe I need to be more like my dog, being caught up in the moment, enjoying all of God's creation this morning and let that be enough for today. If I stop stressing over it perhaps I will hear that "still, small voice" as He whispers to my heart. He will provide. He always does.