Re-Writing an Old Story

View Out The Gallery at Redlands Window

Saturday morning in The Gallery at Redlands is always a sacred moment for me, especially when I arrive long before business hours and just sit with coffee and open journal, looking up to enjoy the bright sun splashing on the Chamber of Commerce office across the street, and then looking on past to the Union Pacific railyards.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church Next Door

This was the view of the Church across from the Redlands Hotel as I looked out my second story hotel window during breakfast. I have painted this church three times already, but now wish to capture it in the sharp morning sunlight as it appears today.

The day promises to be busy, as we have announced Elaine Jary’s gorgeous work filling our gallery, and my own new work in progress. Last night, I met some wonderful new friends, two couples that are local and I hadn’t had the privilege of visiting with before. In response to a conversation with one of them who admired a large piece I have been proud of, I am revising the story I wrote to accompany it. Below, I want to show it to you again, along with the latest version of the story that inspired the work:

He is No Longer Here

The quiet neighborhood was shattered by the sharp crack of three crushing blows from the ball peen hammer that broke open the padlock on the old fisherman’s shed door.  Day-before-yesterday, they found him dead, seated upright in his favorite back-porch metal lawn chair, with a cold cup of coffee and his tattered copy of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass on the side table.  Beneath the layers of his faded beard, they thought they could detect a slight smile.  His book was opened to “Song of Myself” and he had underlined in pencil: “I am large; I contain multitudes.”  The onlooking friends mused about his eight decades and all that his life had encompassed.

Entering the dim interior of the fishing shack, they looked silently at the tangled pile of gear in the corner, and hesitated to gather it up, as though rudely disrupting the sanctity of a shrine.  There lay the Garcia Mitchell 300 open-faced reel, with which he had landed his 6-lb. largemouth bass while poking about the lily pads in a rowboat one evening on Hunnewell Lake.  He was only a teenager then.  The bait caster was still there–the one he never could seem to get the hang of, trying in vain to cast old wooden bass plugs without backlash.  His Uncle Art would just look on, shake his head, smile, and mumble through the smoke of his Lucky Strike: “Cute Kid.”  The Pflueger fly reel and vintage bamboo rod were a gift from an aged farrier in Pine, Colorado, who passed them on as a torch, noting that his fly fishing days were behind him.  The battered suitcase was from college days back in ’42, when he hopped the Frisco passenger train for his monthly cross-the-state visits to his parents back home.  And on that train, he was always served Dining Car Coffee.  And the old knapsack–he never tired of bragging on the day he talked an Athenian merchant out of that tattered leather bag for $12.  On that day, he owned the world.  

The friends stood there silently, their eyes surveying the stack of assorted memories, each item with its own story, clinging to its own fragment of history.  

And now it was time to take down the monument and move on.  New chapters were waiting to be written.

I intend to release another blog later today showing my new work in progress. Meanwhile, I thank you always for reading me, and hope you will take time to visit my website

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

One Response to “Re-Writing an Old Story”

  1. periwinkleblur Says:

    Beautiful word picture and painting!


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