The Magic Hours

And so you thought that the forest was green. But lay down amid the undergrowth, nestle among the fallen trees, and see what colors abound. Discover now that the vibrancy of discovery is cloaked in fancy. When filled to overflowing with rainbows and constellations, their glowing selves disguise one another, admire one another, flush with candor and leaping with life.

Close your eyes in the magic hours and let the light from the canopy dance on your eyelids, warm your face. Let it make swirls of red and gold and orange that dissolve into pink. Let it filter and bend the light into the pieces which define its glowing. Each textured color then cheerfully clothing the animals, the birds, the fish, the day and the night each.

Hear then the sounds as the world delights in beauty; laughter that floats and lingers into the trees but does not scatter the birds; they sing song to one another, tree to tree. The swishing of feet and legs among the brush, that flutter the blue bells and new oaks, but does not stamp them out; they nod and turn and grow. The hands tracing the roughness of the old trees, the heads and bodies leaned into them; the eyes turned up at their trunks to behold their majesty; they smile and rock gently in the wind like grandmothers.

Here is the path into the Limberlost that you did not know was there, or knew but forgot.

The Magic Hours, a work of glorious and intentional imagination, by Jan Brandt, 2019. Acrylic on wood panel 40″ x 30″.

The Magic Hours

While dreaming up this magical beauty, Jan imagined the children attending Easter Seals camps and exploring the outdoors. Perhaps for the first time encountering the mystery of the natural world, experiencing each sensation of sight, sound, and spirit; each magical hour discovering another marvel of life, captivating each who wandered through.

For the short time this painting lived in the gallery, so too did it captivate there all who wandered through. Halted in their journey elsewhere, paused in their conversations, each admirer became an explorer too.

Last week, Jan and I stood in front of its easel, pondering its placement. “It’s truly captivating, Jan. It’s gorgeous and mysterious and whimsical,” I told her.

“Thank you,” she replied. “Maybe you could write something about it.”

“Yes! Like a short essay or a song!”

I can think of little else now.

To the Forest

Oh be quiet
Footsteps will scare the rabbits all away

I’m sure we’ll find it
See what the constellations have to say

To the forest then in rainbow coves
To the hidden place of jewels and gold
Knitted fondly out of new and old
And a moon that glows

Seek and find the
Lines to define the birds and butterflies

Then filling in
Growing within, a magical surprise

To the forest then in rainbow coves
To the hidden place of jewels and gold
Knitted fondly out of new and old
And a moon that glows

And above it all
The night sky

Last week, following our performance at the TWOgether exhibit at the Jan Brandt Gallery which celebrates the artwork born of collaboration, and sitting in front of the painting, Mike Gardner and I composed, To the Forest, a song inspired by The Magic Hours. How serendipitous is that?

With the help of Jon Nord on the bass, Mike and I will debut To the Forest this Saturday at the Art, Wine, and All That Jazz Grape Soiree, and after that, to all who would listen.

Jan’s glorious painting that started this treasure hunt, The Magic Hours, will be auctioned off at the Art, Wine, and All That Jazz Grape Soiree at the Bloomington Country Club on February 23 benefiting Easters Seals of Central Illinois. Tickets available. For other merchandise and artwork made from this image, please visit the Jan Brandt Gallery website or Facebook page.

Published by

Sara Quah

Writer, singer, songwriter. Find me @SaraBQuah. Listen to my music at

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