In December of 2010, a friend and I visited George Washington’s chapel in Valley Forge Pa. It was absolutely beautiful; sculptures everywhere of soldiers, hand carved inscriptions in the pews, and wood work to die for covering the walls. As I was looking around I noticed a flag on the alter amongst all the other colonial flags, this one I have never seen. It was a white flag with gold fringe and a green pine tree in the middle and the words “An Appeal to Heaven “stitched across above the top of the tree. I was completely consumed by this.”Why haven’t I seen this before?”…“What does this mean?”… I knew it had something to do with our country at that time, some sort of plea to heavens for help, but a pine tree? I have forever loved the American Revolution and its cause; I have spent most of my adult life having an interest in anything to do with the time period at the start of our country. Being surrounded by historical homes and sites, helping out in my community, and spending many and many of hours researching and learning, but I have never seen this flag. How did this flag manage to elude me all this time? In the months to follow I learned all I could about the flag and the philosophy behind Appeal to Heaven, talks were frequent and I was really liking it, so much so I even purchased a couple of flags, one of which I still proudly fly at my home.
Soon enough winter passed and spring was on its way. It was boating season, my favorite time of the year. I have been on water my whole life and as soon as I had a driver’s license, the boat showed up. Still to this day I am known for being out there like 4-5 days a week. I was always into fishing with my friends and going on photo adventures every chance we would get. Unfortunately, I was going through a tough time and to keep it short, well let’s just say matters of the heart and today was d-day. I ran to the river like I always do, this was my place. Problem was I wasn’t feeling at all comfortable driving my own boat that day; I literally decided to run up on a beach for what I don’t know, take a walk, just sit down and reflect, I wasn’t sure. This was something I have hardly ever done; I’m usually fishing or doing photography from the boat. As I was approaching the beach I remember how bothered I was, my insides were working overtime and my personal appeal was in motion and greater than ever and then something unreal happened. As I jumped off the boat onto the beach within feet I noticed a piece of driftwood. Completely distracted, I picked it up and noticed it's beauty, (note...when I was younger we used to collect driftwood, so I’m seasoned fan) and so I placed it down at the water’s edge to get on my return. Just as I started to continue it happened again, another piece, this was crazy. Would you believe it happened again and again and again? I just remember at one point fighting it...like why now?...I'm not in the mood...but those feelings didn’t last long, each new piece was better than the next and I couldn’t ignore it anymore....forget about letting go...I never had a choice!.
The next day was a little confusing for me, I had the excitement of all this new wood mixed with some good pain, but again I decided to go back and not for wood, I really just wanted to take a walk and figure some things out. I decided to go somewhere else hoping to not get distracted, but no such luck and again I came home with a boat full of wood. To make a long story short….4 days pasted, 4 boating trips, my personal appeal was never answered (or was it?), but I had a lot of super cool wood and a glimpse of my past that I couldn’t ignore.
It wasn’t long before I started making things; lamps, tables and crafty things, In addition I was on water constantly, I couldn’t stop. I spent the whole summer on the boat and in the shop doing Art and learning the ins and outs of different wood. I really liked it and in the back of my mind I was already thinking how I can do this full time., I also learned that when I wasn’t so happy I could do beautiful work and it would create happiness for me, my own magic pill. It was then that I realized how powerful art was to me and this was a great source of my happiness that I wanted to pursue. For the remainder of the summer my mind was working overtime, I was trying to think of a good name and had this vision of a beautiful gallery or some kind of collaboration where others would come to see.
The summer was coming to an end, it was late September and I was out on water doing my thing alone. As I was making my way back in and cruising along the shores I decided to slow down to look at a piece of wood. At that moment I realized I was in shallow water and my boat off plane was now stuck. I knew right then I had a good five hour wait for the tide to come back in and raise the water. I was close to shore so I got out and started doing all kinds of exploring to wind down the clock. In my fourth hour I was back on the boat just relaxing with my feet up and watching what seemed to be the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen. Usually a breakdown on this river is concern number one, but not tonight. I was completely relaxed and happy and sunsets I have see many, especially from water, and so for the first time being held hostage in nature was comforting. The birds were running up and down the beach chasing bait right next to my boat as the tide slowly rolled in. It was at that point I started to reflect and thank God for all the gifts; the discovery, the happiness it has brought to me and so many others and the perfect distraction at a difficult time. And then it happened, I realized I was stranded in the same area where Appeal to Heaven flags were flown during the revolution. I couldn’t believe it ... I just couldn’t believe it... There it was waiting for me the entire time......It was better than perfect.... A beautiful name for art mixed with American history, discovered on one of Americas most historical rivers, and in the same location as the original Appeal to Heaven flags, and it was truly my appeal that brought me here to begin with...
Can I say this, I have been on water my entire life and that night navigating back to the marina in the dark, by myself, with an over sized boat full of wood remains in my memory forever…..........as the day I truly believed that someone else had their hands in it!