Friday, February 29, 2008

The Organic Source: A Story

The daughter thinks about art.

Memory 1: The mother worked in the garden. She hauled rock, mows the lawn, trims the tree, plants bushes. A well-dressed neighbor lady walked over to her. "I feel so lazy," she said to the mother. The mother shrugged. It's what she did. Perhaps it was less the ambition the neighbor lady perceived, as much as it was creating a living sculpture from plants, water, sun & shade.

How could the daughter not love gardening? Especially at the house in the country, where avocados grew next to orange trees, 8 vegetable beds grew with a wild profusion of green beans that were planted to form a teepee, heads of broccoli the size of a plate and an apple tree with a tree house.

Memory 2: The mother, who was well into her 50's, decided to take up the piano. Never mind that her daughters blasted through lessons for ten years. Forget that her youngest hated the lessons, only went because she was driven. The mother progressed from scales to chords and accomplished the playing of a song the youngest daughter can sing to this day, "Down in the valley, valley so low. Hang your head over, hear the wind blow...."

How could the daughter not love all sorts of music? Opera, jazz, big band, rock... you name it, she listened to it. Only stopping when the man she married laughed at it, proclaimed much of it intellectually inferior. Until one day, she pulled out all her albums and started playing them with impunity. From there, the rest got sorted out too.

Memory 3: The mother shaped lumps of clay into little people. She also made dishes, bowls, vases. They were funky little things, not elegant, but rustic and oftentimes rough. The little people characters amused only the mother and often the daughter would find them perched in pots outside, carefully arranged in two's or threes.

Much to the daughter's chagrin, she obtained her degree in fine arts. Her area of study --ceramics. However, at this point in time of her young life, the last thing she wanted to remember were the baby blue pudgy ball like characters living in her mother's pots back at home.

Memory 4: The mother dropped the daughter each week off at the library. A huge modern building filled with adventures beyond the farmlands bordering the town. The daughter would check out books --five or six at a time. She'd go home and lie under the dining room table to read.

The daughter became a reader.

Memory 5: The mother wrote letters.

The daughter had penpals at the age of 8. When she was 13, a pen pal's mother met her and said, "One day you'll be a writer." However, the daughter didn't know what it meant. She quickly forgot it.

Memory 6: The mother was a dressmaker. She taught her daughter to make her own clothes.

An imperfect seamstress, the daughter applied the lessons of construction, structure and form as she built her own life.

Memory 7. The mother dies.

The daughter becomes a writer. Many year later, someone asks, "When did you decide to be a writer?"
The daughter thinks back on her childhood. She realizes that her mother's creative projects were her way of reaffirming her own humanity. The daughter understands the importance of art, the relationship to all things --be it fashion, cooking, writing, gardening or raising one's children.
She offers this reply: "I never decided, it just seemed natural."
The daughter now has a daughter of her own. She looks at her and hopes that she does as good a job as her own mother did, bringing art into her life.