Sunday, May 30, 2010

An Artist's Date in a Small West Virginia Town

Hello to all,

Last week I drove down to our family home and the garden plots looked like an Amazon Rainforest and had spread in the back into a neighbor's territory.  Fortunately I had help in the corralling.  And fortunately we all have Julia and Annie to guide us on our journey. 

My Morning Pages have suffered a bit but the tasks have been great and as an artist date yesterday I went to a basketmaking class -- as the only student.  Instead of making a childlike basket with a wooden frame and holes and rainbow colors -- and a child would love that -- I took someone's 3/4-done project -- an eggbasket with a two inch vacancy in the middle.  Or it could perhaps be a made-in-China with the tag gone basket that fell apart in the middle.  

Anyway, it had "nice bones or ribs" and a start of round number 2 (I learned that!) reed in beige and grey.  The longtime basketmakers from Glenville a) enjoyed that I brought three of their older creations in to visit them and b) let me choose a soft green and a soft blue for the center round reed number 3 colors.  Between the reeds were a flat reed.  Actually the seasoned basketmaker finished the project -- did the repair and Tracy Westfall a local potter passed by and said, "Tuckie, you are doing really well on that basket." 

Now, normally I would be bent out of shape for someone else "to do my project" but this was already someone else's project and the artist date was all about sitting on the sidewalk under a cool outside roof where it was cool and the world passed by: Tracy and her potter husband who had just returned from Europe and told me how I could find where a special WWII pilot was buried (Search US Military Cemeteries on foreign soil) and that resulted in finding which cemetery -- one near Rome -- and finding photos of it and even a video and deriving much comfort from that; two private detectives -- man and wife from Parkersburg traveling in her bright red two-day old Mercedes Kompressor and when I mused that might be a bit conspicuous for doing detective work, the husband assured me they had other cars; seeing the same roaring red pickup go by in the same direction multiple times; hearing the words "Author" shouted as a local attorney drove by in his pickup truck; and visiting with the basketmakers who came from New Hampshire in the 1970s; are now too old to manage their farm in Gilmer County; have it for sale; and plan to move to Portland, Oregon. 

All of that has made me think perhaps reading deprivation month (Freudian slip -- it is only a week that will seem like a month) will be beneficial.  Right now, I'm off to the basement to organize baskets! Yes! And appreciate each one more and peel last year's crop of Good Luck Plant (Honesty, Money Plant, Silver Dollar) for dried flower arrangments since this years crop looks to be gigantic, I'd better be caught up on previous harvests.  Also will shred Tansey for moth prevention cloth bags; and perhaps -- well, that may be more than I can accomplish in one afternoon.

But ... if not for the Artist Date requirement, I would have missed a lot -- didn't even mention the woman farmer who sold a crate and a half of red geraniums before I got there but had lovely white ones and would have missed the friend who came by and sympathized with me that the Memorial Day flowers -- peonies; rhododendron -- were already gone and she was taking a live begonia which inspired me to buy 8 little white geraniums to take to our local cemetery and put on both sides of our family monument: DeBerry  where my parents and grandfather are buried and Butcher where Jim and Bertha Butcher are buried.  They may survive the 90 degree weather and then, since the cemetery wants you to pick up the decorations, may put them in planters installed around a little deck in the Morgantown back yard.

Well -- no posting from me for a long time -- but how easy and how rewarding a lazy afternoon artist's date can be!  And how much we can get done without reading (although I have to leave a novel mid-way, in the lurch so to speak and that is difficult unless I finish it tonight) and -- if it's too tough, I bet even Julia and I know Annie would understand.



  1. Way to go, Tuckie! So good to hear from you. I love that you took us on your journey -- a winding, peaceful path back to your family home and the place where your parents are buried. We're not so much attuned to Memorial Day any more-- but I'm reminded that my mother and her two brothers along with my grandmother would visit my grandfather's grave each year on Memorial Day. It was just the four of them, no wives, husband and no kids -- so the history and the experience was theirs alone. And they would return in the morning-- my mother back to her kitchen where she would prepare a holiday cook-out. Long past those times--but somehow your post pulled me back there.

    Thank you.

  2. It's true. What Viv said. Except it pulled me extra hard because that's MY "back there." And the street traffic in that small town is often compelling because it could be someone you've known for 50 years. Or more. Great date, Tuckie. I'm inspired.