"Mirrors"

An Alaskan Short Story Adventure by Alaskan Artist Dianne Roberson
Alaskan Artist Dianne Roberson relaxes outside her tent.

Carefully, I sat the bomb on a table beside the front door.  A servant started to dust it with a feather duster, but I stopped him
with a shake of my head.  Late September sunshine glistened off the mirrors that covered the entire exterior of the house.  
From the edge of the roof to the marble floor of the entry, mirrors trimmed in gold gleamed in the sun.  I thought my reflection
showed on the mirrored door.  As I walked closer, I saw it was an image of a woman just like me when I was young.  She
admired her face in the mirrors.  She smiled as the sun rays danced around her.  Slowly, I backed off the porch, never taking
my eyes off the beautiful reflections of the young woman in the mirrors.  The bomb exploded shattering the mirrors into a
million bits that rocketed into the sky.  Simultaneously, pieces of glass were embedded into everything nearby as a blazing fire
consumed the house.  The force of the explosion knocked me to the ground.  I watched in horror as the beautiful young
woman burned to ashes.

My heart was racing so fast that I feared it would accelerate out of my chest.  I opened my eyes and realized I was lying on the
ground in a sleeping bag in the
Alaska wilderness.  I was cold, mentally confused.  As my eyes focused, I could see the sides
of a yellow tent.  My whole body began to tremble as I struggled to find reality.  Sleep had taken my mind into another
dimension; I had experienced that terrible nightmare again.  Grabbing my coat, I opened the tent flap and entered the cool
morning air.  A flock of birds, flying over Lake Skilak in the misty morning, greeted me as their reflections fluttered along with
them over the still waters.  Orange, red, and gold leaves crackled beneath my feet, while damp, multi-colored leaves drifted
past me in the air.    My easel and paints were still under the old birch tree where I left them last night after another long
painting session.  September in the
Alaskan forest compelled this painter to work with brilliant colors.  I found it difficult to
discover any grays amongst the vivid values of nature’s pallet the last few days.

The
Bull Moose I painted as my focal point was still sleeping in the tall grass nearby.  Aged, he was very thin and seemed
senile.  It was obvious his days were coming to an end.   I threw some dry logs on the camp fire, and soon hot flames were
dancing around the cast iron pot.  Caressing a big mug of the strong brew, I continued to survey the area.  Several finished
paintings, the fruits of my labor from the past few days, lay around the camp.  One painting had the lake and surrounding
snow-capped mountains in the morning haze.  Another showed the old moose walking through leaves that floated in the water
as the early moon broke through the evening mist.  The largest captured a flock of geese as they flew across the canvas
above the sleeping moose.  Old and alone, the
Bull Moose seemed too tired to be interested in me.  I fought the desire to
approach him, reminding myself that under the moose’s placid exterior the remains of a wild animal lurked.  It would not be
wise of me to endanger my life by igniting his untamed urges into motion.    

When I had consumed enough coffee to sufficiently renew my mental capabilities, I pondered my violent dream.  I had bombed
the image of my younger self in those mirrors.  Accumulated anger from years of frustration had built inside me while I fought
to retain the youthful image commercial society demanded of successful women.  I was using anti-aging cream when I was
twenty.  Cucumber facials, perfect hair styles, daily muscle toning workouts at the gym, salad or diet drink meals: all were
necessary to keep my family and employer proud of me. Upon reaching the age of fifty, I gave up starving, heavy face paint,
curlers, mirrors, and became a self-employed
artist.   Occasionally, a desire to be neat compels me to take a quick look and I
am shocked at my mature reflection.  It can’t be me!  All the desires, ambitions and hungers of a young girl are swelling inside
my worn physical being.  My brain hasn’t matured that much, for I still joke and play like a child.  I have become more
cautious.  It’s a caution learned from pain.  I deny accusations that I have slowed down, but now my infrequent, gregarious
excursions result from a need to replenish my monetary stash, not my emotions.  I seek solitude because I have discovered
that only in solitude can I fully concentrate on my creative project, but also because I not influenced by others.  I work with a
total passionate commitment to interpreting my
art in my own original style.

I never thought about time or the calendar when I was out painting in the wilderness alone.  I knew I had until the first snowfall
to return to my studio near
Palmer, Alaska.  One day gently transcended into another.  In the evenings the sun began to dim,
but it never entirely went down.  Between day and night there was a haze, a brief gray atmospheric alteration with a dip in the
temperature. I never could really see a sunrise or sunset.  While I was camped on this lake there was no real rain, only
occasional drizzle, no thunder, no lightning, no wind, just silent mist and the soft sound of my brush strokes.   

Water is a challenge to paint.  Its transparency, reflective qualities, and movement must be interpreted on the flat surface of
the canvas with accuracy and looseness simultaneously. Fortunate indeed is the
artist who paints alone in the wilderness,
with the earth and the water as models; no partner or neighbors interrupt, no clock pressures her with the passing hours or
days.  Only my body’s need to rest and replenish itself interrupted the passion of my brush strokes.  I painted until it rained
again; then I slept.

I ended each day with simple pleasure of watching water boil, inhaling its warm steam, adding just a touch of chocolate and
watching the chocolate slowly melt.  Adding powdered milk to its sharp sweetness made a happy ending to my day.  I held the
steaming mug with both hands and paused to let its warmth spread over my skin while anticipating my first taste.  I indulged in
this solitary ritual during late evenings while I critiqued the progress of my paintings.   Before satisfying my hunger, I gave
thanks for my freedom.  Although that freedom was a result of many unanswered prayers, my answered prayers greatly
exceeded my request.   Tonight my heart was filled with abundant joy.  

Dianne Roberson is a free-lance artist, writer, and photographer who works from her art studio in Palmer, Alaska and in her
digital art gallery on line at:
 http://www.artworldplus.com where you can view her prints and original paintings.  
Dianne's jeep packed with her paintings and gear.
Kenai Peninsula | Alaska.
Alaskan Artist Dianne Roberson painting on
location.
Kenai Peninsula | Alaska.
Copyright 2002       ©  Dianne Roberson  All rights reserved.
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