Picturing the Pipeline

Picturing the Pipeline

A frame within a frame. She did not include herself in this painting of her native hill, near Boones Mill, nor did she extend the view downward, to include the snow-covered field she looked across, from her studio, that winter day much like this one when she sat & made the painting.

With this photo I insert the painter, the field—a blank, white middle ground—& the tops of far trees, a little slice of sky above so that your eye can fly up. And still, it can’t fly far enough. What I left out (for a frame must always eliminate so much of the world): the field stretching away vastly to the west where it meets the feet of blue mountains, pale-orange fire flaring out from darkening ridges at the last moments of that short day, casting an eternal quality of light on the flock of wild turkeys that were scattered in a line, each one making its way, pecking through the snow for whatever sustenance might be found, forgotten seeds & grains.

But let us venture back into the frame, the things you cannot see even within it. Teels Creek flowing alongside the base of the slope. The spring peepers that are hibernating under logs & rocks, body fluids frozen. They will be the first to signal the spring thaw. They will emerge to sing in raucous daylong choruses & breed crazily through the warm rains of March.

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