My day is made up of glimpses. I think I keep the mountains in my mind everyday, but, even in Shangri-la, the glimpses of getting from point A to point B can lose their impact. One of the constant exceptions is on my drive to the town over the state line.
There’s a glimpse that forces me to gaze at a greening field filled with baby goats as the Pastoral symphony play on my internal iPod.
Then there’s the ride back.
Most of it is still glances, except for the part of the journey that takes me past the goat farm, but in the opposite direction. That part is a glance and then a gentle guffaw as a hand painted sign bearing the words “Kids for Sale” comes into view.
The perfect curve of the road and sunlit field are the fantasy of country life. The sign is the business and the art of surviving that life with a sense of humor still fully intact.
I’m never sure what it is about sketching that produces such calm. Maybe it’s the instant gratification – watching something appear on a recently-blank page. Sometimes I think it’s the hypnotically rhythmic sound of the scratching pencil on paper that lulls away the angst. All I know for sure is that while listening to the gentle din of the café in the morning as I watch my son’s enigmatic gaze appear, all I have done for the last half hour is smile.
A few weeks ago, I told a friend that I rarely feel like an artist. I was just a writer who does a doodle or two with her posts. I think all of us have a tendency to look at the work of others – creative or otherwise – and feel like we’re coming up short. Those perceived shortcomings often cause me to hem and haw about claiming the status of artist.
Lately, though, I’ve been doodling a lot more. It’s not about a status, and it’s not about getting better at doodling. It’s just about getting better inside my head. Words spoken out loud can get you into trouble, but doodles get you through it. They may seem just like scribbles on a cheap sketch pad, but there’s a lot more going on in those lines even if it’s not spelled out.
The one-traffic light town of Cambridge, NY seems like a metropolis compared to our neighboring village, but it wasn’t until a year ago, when a new cafe moved into the building next to Hubbard Hall, community theatre and arts center, that it became a different world – one I’d been missing since we moved to Vermont from Germany over a decade ago.
Our tiny mountain town is so small we merge with ‘historic’ Arlington for a lot of our services.
Every town in Vermont is ‘historic’, but I come to love Arlington because of what it is now. Our kids know most of the other kids here. Drivers still wave as they pass each. There’s a predictable rhythm of clotheslines and gardens, carnival fundraisers and heated debates over deer hunting and the mud-rutted roads. The cars may be modern and the glow of smartphones can be seen at town functions, but time seems slower here. It’s mundane, but as Thing1 was joined by Thing2, I’ve learned to appreciate the mundane.
Hubbard Hall, a cauldron of creativity housed in a nineteenth-century opera house first drew me to Cambridge. It pulled my husband into acting, my kids into theatre and music, and me back into art. Regular workshops for me and the kids have made the cafe my favorite new haunt and, as much as I still love the mundane, there’s something to be said for being able to live in two worlds.
There’s a bug going around the school this spring. I usually resist the urge to pump my kids full of unnecessary antibiotics, but last night Thing2’s nose was runneth-ing over, and I got out the purple stuff.
Literally taking his sniffles in stride, Thing2 came limping over to me (apparently this particular strain of flu is being sponsored by the American Branch of the Department of Silly Walks) and opened his mouth. I popped in a spoonful of grape-flavor. He danced on one foot and then the other quickly and then looked at me and smiled.
“I’m just making sure it gets everywhere, Mom.”
“No, the medicine through my body.” His legs regained functionality as he slid around the floor, jitterbugging to his internal iPod. “And, I think it’s working, Mom.”
One of us clearly doesn’t understand how the purple stuff is supposed to work, but it might not be the guy dancing around the kitchen in his jammies.