And welcome to my newsletter for August, 2007. Please feel free to
forward this to anyone you think would be interested in keeping up
with me! To receive these newsletters regularly, please drop me an
email or subscribe online at:
. Notices of new
paintings and events are at the bottom of this email.
The grapevines are loaded, and the fruit on our fig tree is starting
to show signs of ripening. Despite the drought, Yavanna has been busy.
We were outdoors yesterday, weeding one of the garden beds and
planting new basil plants. That may seem late for some folks, but here
in Georgia we've plenty of time for the seedlings to grow lush and
fragrant before the chill of autumn arrives; we're just now moving
into the season of riches.
Before planting the basil, we took nets off of our blueberry bushes
and moved them to the muscadines, winding them around the vine
trellises so that (we hope!) most of the fruit will be protected from
the birds and the squirrels. Dark leaves hid pale berries that will
bronze and plump over the next few weeks.
And then it will be time for the svinatura, the starting of this
I've been a winemaker I was a child in north Georgia. I first made
wine with the leftover syrup from canned cling peaches saved from the
elementary school where my stepfather worked. The transformation of
this liquid from something sweet to something exotic always fascinated
me, and spoke to me of the hidden workings of the universe.
Although I understood that wine was produced by yeast working on sugar
and producing alcohol and carbon dioxide, the mechanics of the process
never quite captured what was really happening. The logic seemed
circular, somehow, like the planet on which we live; if you tried to
reduce the event enough, you'd end up back where you started, back at
What _is_ yeast, anyway? What is sugar? Where do they come from? How
are _they_ made? You can follow this back as far as you like, and
inevitably, you end up where you started.
G. K. Chesterton helps us out of the dilemma, by reminding us that the
only proper way to look at the hard, concrete realities of life is to
view them as a fairy tale. To paraphrase him, one might say that wine
is produced through the Deep Magic of the universe. The grapes ripen
because the warm breath of Yavanna has enchanted them and made them
rich and sweet. The figs droop and form a drop of honey at their base,
reflecting the light of the evening sun. Why? Because, as living
things, they are giving praise to Eru Illuvatar, and are reflecting
His glory and majesty.
We will gather up the figs and the muscadines, will crush them, and
will set them in crocks to await the Magic. The sweet juices will be
transfigured into a draught that will cheer us and recall to us these
summer days, even when the bitter winds howl.
As a result of these mysteries, we'll huddle near crackling fires in
the dark months, sipping liquid sunshine. And that same elixir will
remind us of tales of long ago, tales that will, in turn, remind us
that the story we are living now is just as mysterious, just as noble
and just as full of grand feats and daring choices, as any we can
recall from ancient times.
And what is our role in this grand tale? Perhaps simply to be
thankful, to share good things and good times with those around us,
and to trust that, unlike our little planet, the realities of life are
not some circular construct. Rather, the mystery stretches up to the
heavens and out into the deepest cosmos, with each of our lives at its
center. And our task and our glory is simply to bear up this emblem of
mystery, giving praise to the One at all times, now and always, and
forever and ever.
Nai Eru laitalyë (may God bless you),
-I have uploaded five new images to my website at
, and am in the process of changing the
layout for each of my galleries. The newest images are at the top of
each gallery page, without prices or additional info. You will need to
click on the thumbnails to bring up detailed descriptions, status of
original paintings, print availability, etc. The latest images include
Shire Dreams -
The Baptism of the Lord
Our Lady of Fatima
- In addition to new works at JefMurray.com, I've also uploaded two
new paintings to my http://www.JefMurrayWildlife.com
Do let me know what you think of all of these works!
- The July/August issue of Amon Hen, the bimonthly newsletter of the
Tolkien Society, features a cover that I was honored to have been
asked to design. The cover commemorates the 70th anniversary of the
publication of The Hobbit.
- The White Tree Fund (see http://www.whitetreefund.org/
) is now
accepting memberships and is in the process of finalizing details for
publication of "Silver Leaves", their new journal. I was honored to
have been asked to contribute several painting images and sketches for
their use in this inaugural issue of "Silver Leaves". Included in
these was the cover image, which made us of my painting of Amon Hen.
- The July/August issue of the St. Austin Review (StAR)
) is out at any moment. It features a
number of excellent articles on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, plus my latest
"Fenestrae Coeli" article on the paintings of Jason Jenicke. Jenicke's
work is marvelous, and it can be seen online at