It’s raining again this morning and has been all night, but before that was a too-long stretch of nothing. The fires in the hills are soft now and the smoke is turning into fog and settling around the cracks of the pebbles and stones that make up the creek beds. It’s a wet brittle mush.

I’m warming a second cup and there’s a slight breeze escaping in under the studio door and the dog is scooting in closer to the heater. All around the gallery is the smell of oil paint drying and a concrete stain curing over acrylic and wood pulp; a sharp taste against a mellow weather.

In earlier times I suppose a forgotten photograph would fall out of a book or an old letter would be found when moving a box, but for me, now, it’s a digital image in some obscure file with a cryptic name that meant something once. On the far edge of this particular photo is a smile I can recognize among the rest of the faces and against a dozen or more years of forgetfulness and although it’s a cold day I notice myself smile back.

This last, large painting that is still drying beside my desk has bits of ash and leaves and dust and twigs that have been trapped under and on top the first layer of resin. A few weeks ago she spent her first night out on the back patio while the fumes and gasses released and a wind storm pushed through Appalachia. In the morning I found that the protective tent I had made had not been enough; at the time I had felt the painting had been ruined, but she has since become my favorite work and I hope she stays.