The View from Mary's Farm for May 2008
January 1, 1970Greetings, friends,
The spring has been long and slow and beautiful here, ferns still unfurling, lilacs slowly opening. Yesterday, I pruned the big rose out by the road of its rather severe winterkill. While I was out there, rain began. But there was a good breeze that carried the bugs away and the raindrops were sporadic so I stayed out there to finish the task. After, I came in and the rain intensified, a soothing and restful evening.
I want to bring to your attention that I will be teaching a workshop on May 31- June 1, a two-day workshop focused on the personal essay. If you are interested in attending, please e-mail me here on this site. There are local accommodations available for those from out of town.
I would also like to tell you that on June 2, I will start a blog on the Yankee website (www.yankeemagazine.com). I may also import those blogs to this site but that depends on my abilities in that arena, which, as you can imagine, are not very sharp! In the meantime, you can read them every week on the Yankee site. I hope all of you are well and enjoying a similarly restful spring. Read on for this month's essay.
On fair days, artists sometimes come up here to try to capture this view, a broad panorama of field, hills, and mountain. I welcome the sight of an easel set up on the hillside, as I so often wake up to a scene of so much beauty, I wish I knew how to paint.
Recently, one artist in particular has frequented these fields. I sometimes catch sight of him with his paints off in the corner of the field or perhaps at the bend of the road. I stop and we chat. I like to tell him about my digs, the other beauty spots in the area. For every place, there is a story. I tell the stories and he comes back with a wonderful canvas. This, of course, does my heart good.
There are so many special places. The pond, for instance, is a place where my husband and I used to swim or row our boat. The water is clear as air and trees drape their branches over the water's edge. At the far end is an island. Across is a rock the size of an elephant. There are no cottages or cabins. Just the water and the trees and the sky above. One day the artist tells me his own story about his efforts to paint near the edge of that pond. “The light was fantastic when I arrived,” he says. “The trees on the far side were all lit up warmly. The clouds were like Scotland, all shades of gray.” He hurried to set up his gear. And then the light disappeared and the wind came up. The canvas sailed off like a kite.
As he told me about this, I remembered another story, that of a Bolivian woman who lived across the road from the pond. She came here to this country to marry an older man. They settled here under those pines, in a modular home. Inside, the walls were painted turquoise and pink, as if she longed for the warm climate and colors of her homeland. Through the trees, they could see the water sparkle. Soon after, her husband died. She was despondent, unable to be alone. The soughing of the pines sounded to her like crying. Along came a man young enough to be her son. Eventually, with heavy heart, the woman sold her tropically inspired house and moved home to Bolivia. And took the young man with her. She wrote to me about her life back home. She helped her father run his store in La Paz and told me of the heartbreaking poverty and the tyranny of the government. The young man lingered with her. Every year, another long letter came. Her father died. The store was taken from them. The young man left her. And so on. Endless sadness. Nothing good. Only memories of her place by the pond. And then two years ago she wrote to tell me that she had received a "gift" from the young man – a little baby that he did not want and who the mother did not want. Jennifer. This year she wrote to tell me of the difficulties she is having actually adopting little Jennifer, the joy of her life, she says, her gem.
But she never writes but that she does not say how much she misses that home and the pond and the spot under the trees where the artist now struggles to find, and keep, the right light. And so, for the artist, these are landscapes, driven by light and shadow, color and pattern. A scene hopefully captured in a split second. For me, so much is invested here, these places are deeply layered in time and circumstance, an archeological dig of stories hidden beneath the green and ever beautiful earth.