June 05, 2005

Art show on a Friday evening

To get there, we drove through miles of countryside, past white farmhouses with sagging front porches, towering lilac bushes, big red barns, cornfields crowded against lines of old maple trees, and a Christmas tree farm with hills of spruce and fir. The town was one of those rural towns built hundreds of years ago. The main street held old wooden houses, each with a barn in the back, and big maple trees that hung over bay windows and long porches.

The art show was in the library, a building that used to be a Methodist Church. I loved that the library, with its shelves and shelves of books and big stained glass windows, was at the very center of town. Behind it, a softball game was in full swing, the blue t-shirt team playing against the team with tie-dye shirts. On the sidewalks out front, a mother pushed a baby in a stroller, and a young father was just heading home with two little kids and an armful of books.

The artist was a friend of my father's. His work filled a small room near the front, and then spilled into the rest of the library, hung above bookshelves and beside windows. I walked around with my mother, looking at the art, picking out our favorite paintings. My father was mingling with his friends, musicians and artists, most of them, all chatting happily.

My mother and I talked to WaterColourArtist, an amazingly talented woman who was dressed elegantly for the show. She had a new hairstyle, and my mother could not resist asking, "Where did you get your hair cut?" (That's the advice you always hear: find someone whose hair looks great and find out where they got it done.) The woman laughed. "Oh, I just cut it myself." Yeah. She just takes a pair of scissors, looks in the mirror, and gives herself a haircut. I guess we should not have been surprised. Some people are just good at everything.

Three teenage girls were setting up music stands on the raised platform just beyond the circulation desk. Carefully, they took out their instruments, two violins and a cello. As their music began, it was clear that they'd been playing together for a while. I sat in stiff wooden chair, eating fresh strawberries and grapes, watching them play. All three were beautiful in the manner of young woman who don't know yet that they are beautiful. Between pieces, they flipped their silky hair back over their shoulders, their tanned arms moving gracefully as they shuffled through their music. At the end of each piece, I applauded - and the people around me joined in. The cello player each time looked up to give me a shy smile before returning to her intense gaze to the sheets of music.

We drove home just as it was beginning to get dark, the sun setting over the farm fields and lights coming on inside the big old houses. I chatted with my parents about the artwork, the music, the food and wine, the layout of the town. We talked about my little sister and her latest phone call, about my daughter and the work she is doing at the literacy center, about my niece who is heading to grad school in the fall. My parents dropped me off at about nine o'clock, just as the gang of teenagers were gathering at my house for a Friday night sleepover, just as my husband was getting home from work. After the peaceful evening at the art show, I felt ready to return to my normal noisy chaotic life.


PPB said...


timna said...

I really like the overlap of the generations in your writing, and in this story in particular (in the birth story too!).

Maybe that's what I'm looking forward to so much in getting back to Israel this summer. On kibbutz, my kids have grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, and for good and bad, people who knew me when I was in my teens and 20s and 30s! that continuity is so lacking in our lives here.

Friday Mom said...

Sounds like a lovely evening.

RussianViolets said...

I've really missed your writing while I've been on hiatus, Jo(e). You make everything sound beautiful.