Celebrating Andy’s 74th birthday over a fabulous Korean feast.
“The Mirror of Friendship”
A friend holds the mirror of self-esteem.
You can see at a glance someone you admire.
But the beauty of that reflection, to me, it seems,
is the glow of concern from the friendship fire.
……..Dennis Adams (Summer, 1977)
About the poem
When I was about 27 years old (1977), I was at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) studying basic Korean, in Monterey, California. It was an intensive, one-year long course.
During that time one of my Korean instructors introduced me to her niece and asked if I would sing with her for some cultural event they held at DLI for each new class that came through. We studied the culture, customs and arts, as well as the language.
Her name was Cho, Gun Hui but Americans have a hard time remembering Gun-Hui so she adopted the name of Connie (it was the closest-sounding American name to Gun Hui) which she thought would be easier to remember.
I already had lived in Korea for one year and I liked Korean music and had learned several Korean songs, so I was happy she asked me to sing with her niece.
She was a beautiful Korean girl. She sang really well (much better than I) and we became friends. We practiced the songs that we were going to perform for the cultural event, and in so doing, got to know each other fairly well.
I was inspired to write a short poem (the one above) about friendship and I gave a copy to her.
She liked the poem. So she went to a frame shop to have them etch the poem onto a mirror and frame it, and then she gave it to me as a going away gift (I was almost finished with the one-year Korean language program by then).
I was moved by the thoughtfulness of her gift and her friendship.
But, after that summer, we were destined to go our separate ways, and we never did have contact again. But I have good memories of her and the short time I spent with her.
I told my son, Tim, about the poem, and the story behind it…………
No! Wait a minute…..
I told my son, Tim, about the poem, and the story behind it…….
No! Sorry! Just one more minute.
I told my son, Tim, about the poem, and the story behind it…….
Oh my gosh! Sorry!………..
I told my son, Tim, about the poem, and the story behind it……..
“Hmm…The Mirror of Friendship“, he murmured, while contemplating the story.
Then he continued, “Dad, that’s such a clever way of saying the only friend you have is yourself!” 😂😂
I don’t know why I even try…..😳😩
My favorite line in that poem is “…the glow of concern from the friendship fire.“
When you are really good friends with someone there is always a genuine caring and concern emanating from both sides.
That’s how I view my friendship with Andy and Myong Dutton. I have known them for 38 years.
Andy and I met in Korea while we were both in the service, working as Korean translators. He was Army and I was Air Force. We have been friends ever since, even though we don’t talk all the time or visit frequently.
However, when we do talk, it seems like we just pick up on the conversation where we left off.
One day last month (April) I thought about them and wondered how they were doing.
Valley of Fire
My son, Jesse, had told me on my 70th birthday last December, that whenever I decided to do the photo walk and talk with Andy and Myong, he would cover the whole cost of the trip as a birthday gift.
So, voila! it happened!
Andy is retired. But his passion has been photography for a long time. He is especially keen about street photography. That is, taking photos of people on the street, as inconspicuously as he can, to render great candid shots of them.
The Valley of Fire State Park is only an hour and a half northeast of Las Vegas where Andy and Myong live now.
He and Myong love that park and have been there several times so they were eager to oblige my interest in going there.
As soon as we entered the park area, we were greeted by bighorn sheep. That was a good sign it was going to be a great day.
During the visit and the photo walk and talk, we caught up on all the details of our lives and our kids’ lives. And we got some beautiful shots of the park.
Oh, and also we got to be kids again, ourselves, as there were plenty of beautifully sculpted red stone formations spurring our imaginations and just begging for our feet to climb up on them.
I tackled the smaller formations first. 😉😂
But, just like a bighorn sheep, Myong leapt up onto center stage, without hesitation! Andy and I were standing down on “safer ground“. Someone had to take the picture, 🤔 right?
One of several balanced rocks I saw that day.
The day we went, the temperature was around 72 degrees. It was perfect. That was lucky timing because Andy told me after I left, it rose to 94 degrees.
The park is expansive and we couldn’t see it all in just a few hours.
So Andy and Myong took me to see and hike around the area of “The Fire Wave Trail” for my first trip there. Some say that it is one of the best and most beautiful hikes in the park.
We drove north from the visitor’s center to parking lot #3, which is at the top of a hill, across the street from the Wave trailhead.
Then we parked the car and walked down the street to the wash, the lowest point of the “broken highway” seen in the picture below.
At the wash, we headed left toward the sandy beginning of the Fire Wave Trail.
The next picture (below) gives you the true perspective of the distance from the top of the hill to the low point. That is Andy and Myong walking ahead of me on the left.
This is the sandy beginning of the trail.
It WAS beautiful. It was awesome to see and be there.
It was an easy hike, about a mile and a half long.
Along the trail, I marveled at the range of red, white, pink and orange taffy-like waves of sandstone, which have been sculpted through time, by wind, sand, rain, ice and other forces of nature.
The park wasn’t crowded that day but we did see many others enjoying the park and the weather.
We met a real friendly, nice group of people from Pennsylvania and Georgia, who were on a guided tour of the park.
I present (from left to right), Diane, Myong, Sharon, Jacob (the tour guide), Tyneisha, Dara, and Andy.
A big shout out to all of you!!
Andy, Myong and I enjoyed meeting and talking with you.
Also Tyneisha, Dara, Jacob and I took a few minutes to climb up to an arch together and take a “selvsie of our selvsies”.
As we hiked through the Valley of Fire along the Fire Wave trail….
….three songs by Lizz Wright (my FSFNOP), came to mind.
(Click on the link above to listen to and enjoy Lizz’s song, “Fire”).
It’s a beautiful song about a passionate woman expressing her desire to give her love sincerely and freely to someone, without expecting anything in return from that person.
I overdubbed “Fire” onto a video of our walk through the Fire Wave Trail so you could hear the song as you virtually walked with me through the trail.
But, unfortunately, youtube said it was a copyright infringement and I had to delete the song from the video.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy her song (above), as well as the video of the walk (below).
(Btw, FSFNOP is Favorite Singer Forever No Others Preferred) 😄
After the Fire Wave trail ended, we kept on walking to explore the Wave and the surrounding area……
…..until we had looped back around, full-circle, up the hill…..
…..past the Gibraltar Rock……
…..and across the street, back to the parking lot where the car was.
We had circled around the Valley of Fire, through the Fire Wave Trail, and over and around the Wave.
You might say we made a “Circle ‘Round the Flame”.
That’s the second song, that Lizz sings, that popped into my mind that day, as we hiked in a circle, through that gorgeous Valley of Fire.
Did you notice how the song starts?
It seems to have a sense of urgency at the beginning, right?
It makes me look to the left and exclaim, 😳 “What happened?!?”, and then look to the right and query, 🤨 “What’s goin’ on?”….
….(Go ahead! Make those two faces while saying those two lines! Then you’ll get what I’m saying! 😂 )
I’m joking, of course. But I really do like that sense of urgency at the beginning of the song, and of course, the song, itself.
It was getting late so we got on the road and headed back home. We weren’t tired at all. We happily recounted the day’s events and all that we saw and felt.
The park was so colorful and beautiful it almost seemed like a painting.
A Real-life Painting.
That thought reminded me of some real-life paintings that Andy’s son, Michael, has done.
He often goes out on his bicycle to a place he picks to stop and paint. Then he paints. This one, and many more, can be seen on his Instagram account.
But he also has done “real-life drawings”, one of which I particularly wanted to share with you.
Isn’t this clever?
All those thoughts segued to a third song I like, by Lizz, called “Real-life Painting”, which she co-authored with Maia Sharp.
I thought about how Lizz depicts real-life through her music and songwriting.
………then I thought about……..
The Talented Dutton Family
Earlier I mentioned Andy’s passion for photography but what I didn’t mention was that his wife, Myong, has a passion for painting. While they lived in Korea for a five-year period, Myong studied painting and she discovered she had a real talent for it. And Andy was out and about taking photos of some of his favorite places to walk.
Both Andy and Myong became well-known in Korean photographer and artist circles, respectively, and won several awards/prizes for their work they presented in National Exhibitions.
Andy depicts real-life through street photography.
Here are a couple of his photos that he took while he lived in South Korea during that five-year period, just a few years ago.
You can follow him on his youtube channel at herbertandrewdutton.
He also has a blog at andrewduttonphotographer.com
Myong depicts real-life through her paintings.
This is her current project…..
……as it awaits her finishing touches, in her personal work space in one corner of the living room.
She says it takes about five to six months to complete her paintings.
You can find her work at fineartamerica.com/myongdutton.
In fact they and their three boys are all creatives.
Left to right: Andy, Henry, David, and Michael.
Their oldest son, Michael, depicts real-life through drawing and painting.
He was the production designer/art director for Go! Go! Cory Carson on Netflix, and the sets guy on an upcoming feature film at KuKu Studios.
The middle son, David, depicts real-life through the production of music videos/films.
You can view his work at duttonfilms.com.
And the youngest son, Henry, depicts real-life through electronic keyboard music.
You can listen to his music on youtube at hidden fortress collective.
I hadn’t seen Andy and Myong for quite a while and this was my first visit with them since they moved into the new house in Vegas.
I liked how they decorated the place. It was simple and yet sophisticated. It felt comfortable and homey and yet, with a few custom furniture pieces and Myong’s paintings hanging prominently on the walls, I felt as if I was in a marvelous art gallery.
That weekend was a very memorable experience for me and I’m looking forward to future excursions and meetups. I’d like to go back to that park with Andy and Myong to see the rest of it sometime. But I’d also like to travel to some other places. The list is long and time seems so short.
Andy and Myong told me they want to do a segment of the old Route 66 and asked if I wanted to go too. That sounds interesting and nostalgic to me so, if I can, I will.
Thanks for your great hospitality, guys! Until next time…….😊