By Mary Pom Claiborne
I have some friends who used to talk about seeing the Moonbow at Cumberland State Park. Apparently, to this day, a crowd gathers at each full moon to catch glimpse of the remarkable sight. I always pictured it in muted colors – a white moonbow against the mist of the waterfall. Now I’m curious about the colors. As Granny Kate describes it, her grandmother was drawn out of a deep sleep to the side of a cliff where a full color rainbow spanned across the valley. I can only imagine the majesty of such a sight. Try as she might, she could never find the nighttime rainbow again. In a way, that night haunted her forever. She created a weaving pattern to capture the moment. But herein lies the paradox – we can’t capture and hold beauty. As hard as we try, and as painful as the passing of beauty may be, it is elusive. But that’s also where art comes in. Her weaving pattern did capture the memory of the moment and create a different kind of beauty. Maybe that’s the best we can hope for. If art is about replicating the moment, it will fail. It is impossible to see the same rainbow twice. If it is about creating a memory inspired by beauty, then beauty can continue forever.
I love the primary role that nature plays in this book. The intertwining of nature and art weave into this story beautifully. When Shade sees Claire’s sketches, he is taken by them. Claire’s capture of a mountain stream in charcoal or paint elicits a reaction from Shade that is different from viewing nature itself. I wanted to be able to compare the sketch to the live scene to see what she saw and how she interpreted nature. Even the baskets made by Mary Riley were expressions of art. In a hard scramble life, capturing beauty is necessary. I wonder how hard that is when your hard scramble life exists in one of the most beautiful places on earth.