The First Strawberry of the Season

When I was young, my grandparents on my father’s side of the family would always have a vegetable garden; if you were from that generation, and had the space, it’s just something you did. Perhaps it came from living through the Great Depression and World War II rationing, or maybe it was due to a general sense of self-sufficiency, but making things last, using only what you needed, and producing what you could for yourself were the norm. Waste not, want not.

For many years, my mother also farmed a big vegetable garden. When you’re a kid, you don’t appreciate all the hard, forced labor working in mom’s garden; to a kid, it’s like some sort of prison work camp, and you don’t even like to eat the fruits of your labor! Then when you grow up, and have some land of your own, you plant your own gardens and learn to love the taste of those fresh vegetables and herbs.

I was probably only six or seven years old at the time, maybe younger, but I remember, back in Rochester, New York, the wood stake and wire supports for climbing beans and peas, and grandpa showing me how the fresh, little tendrils would coil around anything as they journeyed higher each day, eager to touch the sun. He showed me how to pick them, and how to split open the pea pods to reveal the row of small, green globes inside. Today I can almost see myself from an outside perspective, curious and interested in what my grandfather was showing me, but I still didn’t want anything to do with eating those peas.

Grandma and grandpa moved to Michigan after we did – to be closer to us, and near to other relatives who lived in the Grand Rapids area. In my teen years, one early summer, grandpa and I went out back to the old, detached  garage  – I don’t even remember why anymore – and he went to check the garden. When he came back, he looked pleased, and he was carrying a single strawberry. He said it was the first of the season, and that he was going to bring it inside for grandma – it would make her happy. He set it down, and we went about our original business for a while before we turned to go back inside. Grandpa was getting forgetful with his age, and I reminded him about the strawberry.

Being a typical teenager at the time, I thought it was a little funny he almost left that single, red berry in the garage. I knew it was something nice he wanted to do for grandma, but it just seemed so small and insignificant at the time. It was just one tiny strawberry, right? It wasn’t until years later that I really understood.

It’s funny how such a little thing has stuck with me for so long, but sometimes love is all about the little things: a smile shared after a hard day, holding the door even after decades together, planting the flowers she likes, or bringing in the first strawberry of the season.

Inauguration of Hope

America Waits

A breath held for fear of exhalation,
Perchance to dare,
to hope again.

The paralysis of fear begets timid inaction.



~ David Jay Spyker


Congratulations, President Obama.

You have shown us the audacity of hope, now show us its tenacity. Be that beacon of honesty and wise leadership, which we so desperately need to see shining at the head of our nation.

Above all, always remember, your greatest strength lies in your ability to inspire others to action, goodness, and greatness. Never let us forget that change for the good of all begins with the individual – that each one of us can find a way to make a positive difference in the lives of those around us.

Why Do We Keep Messing With Nature?

I would like to submit a hypothetical question: Why do we keep messing with nature, with genetics, it will inevitably be our downfall, won’t it? Surely, altering nature to suit our needs is a slippery slope?

While there is a great potential for disaster, I don’t believe that it will be our destruction. Instead, it will only lead to continuing chapters in our evolutionary history, and is likely the necessary method of adaptation to any challenges we create for ourselves. Mankind has been messing with Nature since more »

25 Dec 2006, 12:40pm

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Reaching, Always

John Lennon said it in Imagine. Imaginative people have been saying it for centuries, millennia. Maybe enlightenment only comes to the individual, but I like to believe that an entire society is capable of achieving social peace and unity. Dream, imagine, believe; live peace, become love…

Someone has to be the brave and daring soul. Someone has to reach out first, has to be the first – wholly commit to being the one to hold out a hand regardless of the cost, and irrespective of the other’s position.

Someone has to lay down his gun first, and live for peace. It is too easy to die for a cause; it is too tempting to celebrate those who give their lives for a cause.

It is so horrifically simple to hate – to kill for a cause.

It is so much greater to live a life of compassion and respect for all.

We are not all so different that there should be hate. Not one of us has the right to kill another of us – there is no reason on this good Earth that gives us that right. We all share the same blood; when one of us spills the blood of another, it is the blood of us all.

Put aside your selfishness and greed to give your neighbor a hand.  Show your fellow man that there is nothing to fear from you. Be the brave one to stand up and take that step.

Every day as we go about our lives, whether on a grand scale or in the little ways, it is a choice each of us must make: Love and peace, or hate and destruction. Every individual has the power to make a difference.

You are not alone, we stand together in love, peace, and hope.

Whatever Holiday you celebrate this season, may it be in Peace, with the ones you love.

– David Jay Spyker

15 Sep 2006, 8:08pm

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Clear Skies

Written September 15, 2001

I went for a long ride on my road bike today, and one particular thing caught my attention – the sky. Something seemed odd, and at first I couldn’t quite put a finger on it, but then it hit me: it was a beautiful, clear day (a gift of a day really) and I found myself riding through an Italian Renaissance painting. There was nothing Italianate in the landscape of course, no distant mountains, no cypresses, no Roman architecture, but the color of the sky, and the quality of the light was akin to that which I have only previously seen in older paintings – Italian, or perhaps pieces from the Hudson River School era.

With virtually all air travel suspended, there were no contrails, and the massive quantities of airline pollution that are daily pumped into the upper atmosphere over the States had finally cleared to unveil a sublime, azure masterpiece the likes of which I have never seen in person, and very likely will never behold again. It was indeed a peaceful – dare I say transcendent – experience. I find myself unable to conjure words that will carry enough weight of expression to communicate the experience. I suppose you just had to be there… Maybe you were.

Footnote addendum: An interesting article in U.S. News & World Report on May 27, 2002 titled, “Cool your jets”, cited a study presented at an American Meteorological Society conference. The study used satellite photos to “track military jet contrails as they spread  within just a few hours into sheets of high cloud covering thousands of square miles”.  It went on to say that another study showed how spreading contrails limit temperature extremes by dimming sunlight and trapping heat closer to the ground. During the ban on air travel more than 4000 weather stations reported a temperature range more than 1 degree Celsius wider than normal.

11 Sep 2006, 8:24pm

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September 11

On September 11, 2001 and the few days after, I wrote what follows in a notebook; my thoughts simply poured onto the page in snippets with no logical chronology. In the week or so that followed the 11th, as I began to process these events, I organized these thoughts into what you now see before you. I did not have a blog at the time, and have been looking over things I have written in the past, so I have chosen to share this with you today.

September 11, 2001

This is not the world we wanted; it is not the world we planned. This is not the way we had hoped it would be; this is most certainly not the way it should be. We, collectively, have come so far; we have so far yet to travel. No, this is, without a doubt, not the way things should be.

Today two buildings collapsed.

I watched the jetliner strike the tower, an errant missile filled with precious, irreplaceable cargo. I watched it over and over. I watched the buildings fall, each in turn like weary guards crumbling with fatigue. Sleep. All day long I witnessed it over and over – a surreal event played out on a technological stage for the entire world to see. I know it happened, I saw it happen, but I do not believe it happened. It must be the stuff of modern cinematic wizardry. It is not.

Wives and husbands will not be coming home. Daughters and sons will not be coming home. Mothers and fathers will not be coming home.

Today humanity revealed its nastiest face.

The television brings me images of people celebrating in the streets of some distant land, rejoicing at the deaths of fellow human beings. It is not just adult men and women, there are children taking part in the macabre victory dance. The despicable torch of hatred is passed to the next generation.

A well-known religious leader in this country urges vengeance, revenge, and swift military retribution against those we suspect (suspect, mind you, we know nothing yet) are responsible. A religious leader… More hatred.

Today humanity revealed its most courageous face.

Men and women ran into the claws of death to snatch their fellow human beings from its cold and crushing grip.  I wonder, what gave them the courage to offer of themselves so personally, so deeply? Is that something I could have done? I realize that have no idea; I am not there.

Today, I feel fear. I know it is reactionary, transitory – the empty space between heartbeats when one waits for the other shoe to drop – and it will pass soon, but for now, that is what I feel.

More than recurring terrorism, I fear the saber rattling and chest-pounding that will surely come of this. The president, the man who holds office at this moment, loves power more than anything else – more than diplomacy, more than sensibility, more than leadership, and more than the people of this country and of this world. War can give a leader power, and this man itches for power within the facade of what began an impotent presidency. Kids, each born and raised in this country, will die; kids, each born and raised somewhere in the Middle East, will die; and the cycle of hate and fear will grow like an infection until it stains the world.

We desperately need a leader who possesses the wisdom to choose a higher and nobler course despite the din of an outraged nation – a nation, which at the moment, is far too frightened and angry to think straight. Now is the time for a great leader to stand up and act by what is right, rather than by the will of a people driven to the edge. Today I fear for this country, and I fear for this world. I fear we will not have this leader.

Today we are not one country; we are one world.

This world is no longer wide; it has become so very small.

We are not they and we; we are only we.

Today, I fear we will forget this.

Synthetic Gecko

That’s what they are calling it – “Synthetic Gecko”. The minuscule fibers that line a gecko’s paw pads actually interact with surfaces on a molecular level. This is what allows a gecko to hang upside-down on a sheet of glass. According to the BBC, researchers have developed a polymer sheet that has a surface covered with millions of microscopic hairs, which allow it to act on the same molecular principles employed by the gecko. They claim that a one meter square of the substance could hold a car to a ceiling. That is something I would like to see, though I still wouldn’t stand beneath it.

Throughout our existence, mankind has been inspired by nature when it comes to invention. After all, nature did it first. We are all products of the natural world. We derive wondrous medicines and materials from the natural world. All manner of science is inspired by animals and plants, and their natural processes. Aside from its providing us the basic necessities of life, which is no small thing in its own right, we owe a considerable debt to the ecosystem in which we live for everything else it has given us.

It has been said by millions of people around the globe – I am sure billions of times – but I will say it here again too because it doesn’t seem to be getting through to some of the most influential people. It is long past the time that we begin to better respect our interconnected world environment, and to repair the damage we have done.

We are finally beginning to understand the ultimately complex workings of Gaia; there is so much ahead of us, and so much to do to ensure that we never discover it is too late for us – before we have taken the last of it, and the only kind of gecko we have left is synthetic.


[Homines Partus]

Spring came with awakening, came with innocence and joy
Spring came with fascination and desire to deploy
Summer came with restlessness and curiousity
Summer came with longing for the things we could not be

Take me to the forest, take me to the trees
Take me anywhere as long as you take me
Take me to the ocean, take me to the sea
Take me to the Breathe and BE

Autumn came with knowledge, came with ego came with pride
Autumn came with shamefulness for the things we could not hide
Winter came with anger and a bitter taste of fate
Winter came with fear for the things we could not escape

Take me to the forest, take me to the trees
Take me anywhere as long as you take me
Take me to the ocean, take me to the sea
Take me to the Breathe and BE

Teach me of the forest, teach me of the trees
Teach me anything as long as you teach me
Teach me of the ocean, teach me of the sea
Teach me of the Breathe and BE

See me! I am the one creation
Hear me! I am all the love that came from Animae
Know me! I am the incarnation
Fear me! I am all the power held by Animae

Give me of the forest, give me of the trees
Give me anything as long as it’s for me
Give me of the ocean, give me of the sea
Give me of the Breathe and BE

Give me all the forests, give me all the trees
Give me everything as long as it’s for free
Give me all the oceans, give me all the seas
Give me all the breathing BE

~ Pain of Salvation, from the album titled “BE”

The Wings of Butterflies

Originally written February 3, 2002 at 4:12 a.m.:

I am in the studio working and listening to “Queen’s Greatest Hits II”; music has always been tremendously important to me, and I grew up listening to Queen. I remember the day that Freddie Mercury left us (what has it been, something like ten? eleven years?), and the profound sense of loss that I felt upon hearing the news. A lasting knot visited my stomach on that day. Of course I never knew the man personally, but he, along with his fellow musicians, laid their hearts bare for all to experience through the intimate nature of their words and music; when an artist takes that kind of risk, we all are given the opportunity to come to know that person on a close level. If we take that opportunity, then they become part of us, we are enriched.

The day Freddie passed, we all knew that there would be no more Queen, that the clarion song of that voice would no longer grace our ears, and that the world had lost some truth and magic; but we also knew that he had left us with something of himself that would endure even well beyond our passing. I listen to the music, and he is alive in a corner of my soul. It is something I will always carry with me. It is hope.

My thoughts inevitably drift from Freddie Mercury to Martin Maddox. Martin, that clenched knot returned to my gut when I learned of your death. You left your soul raw upon your canvasses, bleeding your heart dry with every stroke of the brush. I am glad to have known you; your work is as much a part of me as is my own – thank you.

To Freddie, Martin, and all those deep and daring souls who have gone all too soon (is it ever not too soon): your souls are “painted like the wings of butterflies” – fly. We will carry on with the show.

2 Mar 2006, 11:12pm

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The Beginning

Welcome. I will be sharing my thoughts and writings here; some of them will be older things dug up from time to time, and translated from paper and pencil scratchings, while most will be thoughts current to the time of their posting. I would like to share my mind not only as it pertains to art, but as to all manner of subjects and events that affect who I am, and what I do.

I am the sum of my thoughts and emotions, my concerns and beliefs; this is what I paint.

Note (November 2008): This is the second iteration of this blog, and it has been manually transferred from the original blog where many of the first posts were kept private.

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