It’s a steamy July afternoon and the weathermen say it’s the coolest day of the coming week. So I am particularly enjoying the air-conditioned studio and I plan to stay right here at this computer for the next few days getting all the behind-the-scenes work done in preparation for the big Granary Gallery Show.
Only a couple weeks away now and I am easing off of my manic pace which has been sustained, with the help of caffeine and Tylenol, for the past several months. Those 12 hour days at the easel were intense and I’m kinda floating around in a daze without that extreme focus.
The calendar says tomorrow is the 4th of July. 150 years ago, this very afternoon, in just the same kind of suffocating heat and humidity that blankets the valley today, Gen. James Longstreet had ordered Gen. George Pickett to lead an assault on the Union soldiers holding their line on the hilltops of Gettysburg. The “high water mark of the confederacy” would be reached by softening the line with heavy batteries of artillery and sending in Pickett’s men. They did reach the Union soldiers and a few Confederates broke through… but the line held… Pickett’s charge proved to be the final battle in the bloody three day slaughter, and it turned the tide of the war.
I’ve been listening to the local NPR radio channel as they have broadcast live from the battlefields each day for the past week. If you’ve never been to Gettysburg, history buff or just tourist, it can be a very moving place to visit. Today, as the culmination of several days of re-enactment, the participants, and visitors, are lining up on opposite sides of the battleground. Then, in a solemn procession, they are walking across the fields to meet at the line where the original soldiers stopped that assault and there are meant to come together and shake hands.
When the crowds clear out, and the weather cools down, and both my knees have been replaced, I’m going to throw the traveling easel and the paint box in the truck and take a road trip over there and see if I can capture some of the spirit of that hallowed ground.