Several of my lean years here at Slade, in the Red River Gorge area, were spent alone at special times like Christmas and New Year’s. A couple of times I broke up with my girlfriend to avoid buying non-affordable gifts. Yes, it was that lean. But this was my decision, to survive financially as an artist. I knew how to adjust to the simple requirements of living because I lived through the nineteen thirties (the Great Depression years) so I was mentally conditioned for such experiences.
During those lean times at Slade, Natural Bridge State Park became my home. The place and the people there became my crutch needed in times when the company of others was the mental balm for my sometimes lonely soul. The park changed and now a pandemic has created more changes. I feel unwelcome there and miss being able to have lunch with friends I worked with for years. My daughter Michelle’s move back home helped alleviate the lonely times.
As I enter the last stage of life, the reality of permanently losing friends tugs at my heart – one of the negative aspects of living past the average age of humans. Thankfully, the treat of younger friends have helped fill the void.
One of my special times is the Winter Solstice, that time when the earth begins its journey onward to the other side of the sun. The Solstice is the beginning of a new year for me. A couple of times by the calendar (January 1st), and alone, I stepped outside and fired one round with my 12 gauge, yelled as if someone could hear me a mile away at Slade, went back inside and went to bed. So much for celebrating the calendar year – something about the passing of time I’d love to slow down.
The Solstice reminds me of my place on earth – a mere speck of a traveler in time. Celebrate that you’ve made it another year. Celebrate that you still have friends and family who cares. In disagreement and love, we travel together. My real family are those sharing the adventure. We join hearts and minds for special occasions and the reality of cosmic events contradicting the perpetuity of our beliefs.
Alan Cornette lives and paints in Kentucky. His most recent book, “The Red Mailbox,” is available on Amazon HERE.
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