Friday, October 3, 2008

The Simple Things

For three days I'd been craving candy corn. I'm not big on sweets at all; instead I prefer salty, crunchy snacks. But knowing Halloween products were displayed in every store, I knew I could find it. And so I did...2 bags late yesterday at JoAnn's of all places. Took some effort to tear open that plastic bag without slinging candy all over the car, but I did it. And I nibbled all the way home.
Sunday we're headed to Mom's for lunch, which is a great thing right by itself. But she's just a couple of miles from one of the largest pumpkin farms ever. They advertise on TV this time of year, offering free pumpkins if you go on one of their hayrides. I'll probably skip the hayride, but I'm searching for those perfect pumpkins. Mind you, my idea of perfect would not be yours. I like the tall skinny ones and I still like to carve a jack-o-lantern every year. Sometimes it's just the simplest things that give me the most pleasure.
Between Mom's house and the pumpkin farm there used to be a farm with baby goats years ago when my son and my nephews were tiny tots. I can remember Mother taking us all down there with scraps to feed those goats and how much the boys loved it. My son is grown now and will be at Mom's this weekend, so it makes me wonder if there might still be goats on that road and if he'd remember those little adventures. He recently married a young lady with 2 little girls of her own and my mother has bought them a table with 2 tiny chairs so they can have tea parties during their visits. The memories just come flooding back of mud pies and tea parties when I was little. (Thankfully, not at the same time!) I'm fortunate to have a mother who also thinks it's the little things in life that matter most. I cross 2 railroad tracks within 1/2 mile of my house, and they're maybe 6 car lengths apart, which seems silly. But some days I get caught at one of those tracks and I sit & wait like everyone else, thinking how late I'll be for my destination. The other day I was first in line and the train was carrying newly cut lumber. I rolled down the windows, turned off the engine, and watched each and every car roll by me, enjoying the fragrance of those trees/logs as they went past. Temperatures here in NC have finally dropped and I love that it's in the 70's every day, so it was quite pleasant. I sat there enjoying the brief respite in my day, wondering if the string of cars behind me was thinking the same thing. Apparently not; several made a U-turn and went in search of a quicker way to get where they were going. They just don't know what they missed.
I've asked my mother repeatedly for a photo of her as a child. She has only one, which seems really sad, and so far she hasn't been able to find it. But when she does, I'm going to make multiple copies in multiple sizes for my art.
Last year for Christmas I made a small scrapbook for her with a tiny 6 page boardbook kit. I used decorative papers, lace, buttons, stickers and such to decorate the covers and pages, and then used photocopied pictures of the two of us over the years to adorn each page. I had a strip from the old photo booth that used to be in Woolworth's in downtown Raleigh, with our heads together, smiling at some secret joke. And photos from our trip to England and France back in the early 80's. She was smiling in the pictures but wishing she was back home in the good old US where everything was more familiar.
This year's gift from me will be a shadowbox collage. When I think of my mother I think of her crafting, so I'll add spools of thread, a thimble, a scrap of fabric, and a few buttons. I think of her in the kitchen, always cooking, so I'll photocopy one of her recipes, hopefully in her own handwriting. She's always loved to play games, so of course I'll photocopy Pokeno & Bingo cards, add a domino and a couple of Rook & Canasta cards. She's always had a garden full of flowers & vegetables, so maybe a seed packet or two will find their way into the mix.
And when she finds that photo of herself as a child, I'm going to feature it prominently, giving her wings and a fairy wand, sprinkling fairy dust everywhere to show her that I still see the magic, just as she taught me.
I'm hoping you'll take the time this weekend to enjoy some of the simple things in life. I've still got pears on my tree so I'll pick a few of those for my snacking when I don't have my hand in that bag of candy corn. And we'll light the torchieres on the patio and the upstairs deck, sitting out under the stars with our coffee at least one night, watching the puppies frolic as only puppies can. And I'll start on that shadowbox, pulling out crayons and paints in pastel pinks and blues and lavenders, because they're Mom's favorite colors.
And here's a funny thought for you. My mother always hated the color green. She finally told me why just a couple of years ago. Seems she was hiding from her father under their front porch when she was little, and she was convinced he found her because of the bright green coat she was wearing. That's funny to me for no particular reason, but it explains why none of us ever had green in our wardrobes as children. And it's probably why I'm still surprised to find myself drawn to that Lime Green ink pad in my studio because it's never been part of my palette.
Open the windows, listen to the birds, read a few pages of a good book, pick a few of your remaining flowers, and create a little art for someone you love. It doesn't have to be an elaborate shadowbox or book; it could be as a simple as a set of notecards. And while the supplies are out and you're in the mood to play, why not make a collection of bookmarks? Tie on some pretty fibers, ribbons, buttons & beads, and tonight when no one's looking, tie them onto your neighbors' doorknobs. Imagine how delighted they'll be to find a little gift when they venture out tomorrow?
Be spontaneous.
Be joyful.
Create art.

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