“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
In the mountains of southern California there is a lake with an island in its midst. Outside this island a majority of trees were consumed in a forest fire in 2003 (The infamous Cedar Fire). Many of the trees had stood 200-300 or more years. But on the lake’s island you can still walk through a landscape of beautiful ancient oak and pine trees. On a fall day, as I walked the island’s edges, I came upon this spot- a still standing glorious ancient survivor. Autumn perfection – Fall color surrounds, the air is crisp and clear, migratory birds call above and the sun rests on the horizon.
In my New Mexico home the wildflower known as Indian Paintbrush found just the right conditions to take up residence. It’s no easy feat to cultivate the growth of this wild scarlet and orange flower that, in fact, does resemble a free-form paintbrush. Good luck propagating this flower. Seeds are available commercially but it is anything but guaranteed to succeed.
It has very specific requirements and is a true wildflower requiring no human intervention to grow where it wills. Transplanting an Indian Paintbrush does not work as it is a parasitic plant attaching its roots to the roots of other plants and deriving water from them. So it was to my amazement that my specimens spread prolifically all over my land, increasing its range each year. Here is one of several artworks I’ve created on this unique, complex and truly wild botanical wonder!
There are multiple legends about the origins of this remarkable beauty. One such legend is shared in Tomie dePaola’s children’s book the…
…’Legend of the Indian Paintbrush“. This is the story of a young Indian boy who did not fit in his society’s assigned role as warrior. Today I suppose he would be labeled “special needs“. Eventually, he finds his place as an artist. (Hooray for that!) And as you might guess, this eventually leads to the origin of the Indian Paintbrush flower. But I’m not giving away the punchline! Here is a 5 minute version of the story by Tomie dePaola:
This striking perennial is honored by poet A.V. Hudson,
St. Richards Catholic Church turned 60 last spring. I’ve created a fine art print above to capture how striking this humble Borrego Springs mission style church appears before the looming Santa Rosa mountains.
The background story:
1940s – No road, no telephone, just a name
Borrego Springs, California was barely connected to the outside world in the 1940s. There were dirt roads, no telephones, no outside electricity. The Catholic Church purchased land for the church site naming it the “de Anza Catholic mission,” after Juan Bautista de Anza, the early Spanish explorer who traversed the Borrego Valley in 1774.
1950s – Volunteers, money, new name
Built by volunteers and financed by 16 local Catholic families the church was completed in April, 1954. It’s final name – St. Richard Catholic Church.
1960 – Fire! send for help from Julian!
In 1960 the church survived a fire but was severely damaged. State park rangers and local residents fought the flames with garden hoses for over an hour until State Forestry fire equipment from the mountain community of Julian, California arrived – a 31 mile trip. After repairs the church was reopened.
1970 – 2001 How about some stained glass?
In the 1970s Julian, California glass artist James Hubbell installed windows along the side of the church. In 2001, world-renowned stained glass artist Sarah Hall, using glass from France and Germany, created an 8′ by 8′ foot stained glass window behind the church altar, illuminating the darkest part of the sanctuary.