> 2005 - 2010



Painted bronze, copper and wood, 2005, 13" x 18" x 48".

On the last night of a raft trip down the Green River, my father and I climbed the canyon wall to see the sunset. As soon as the sun slipped from sight, the no see'um gnats swarmed, flying into our mouths, ears, noses and eyes as I frantically tried to bat them away. Fearing that I would misstep in my panic on the narrow path back down the canyon wall, my father shook me by the shoulders and quickly lectured in the dying light on the facts of life: "pick your battles; spend your energy on things you can change; and if you find yourself in a battle with no see'ums muster all the good grace and humor you can and get the hell out of there."

The day I began writing this I sat in a restaurant overlooking a small coastal creek, gazing across the water when I struggled with words. Distracted, it was awhile before I realized that the dissonant splashes were caused by the whipping tails of salmon fighting their way up stream to spawn. That evening the Boston Red Soxs made history coming back from three down to win four games in a row and the American League Championship.

I had begun with the clear notion that this piece would be about recognizing a no see'um battle, and changing course. But sometimes today's failure teaches and tempers the skills needed for tomorrow's success. Sometimes the comradery and lessons learned are more valuable than the unscarred ego and unsapped energy of not trying, of turning away.

Janet Geib Pretti

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