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It looks like Christmas here in Michigan’s UP, after a winter storm dumped about two feet of snow on us in 24 hours.
After all the digging (and swearing), it’s nice to sit back and appreciate the beauty of this time of year. There’s something dreamlike about it that, if you’re not careful, can get you thinking in stream-of-consciousness sorts of ways.
So…the snow made me think of the holidays, which brought to mind this painting I did quite a few years back, when we lived in Vernon County, WI.
Yes, that is Amish country, and these are Amish horses. Big, placid, gentle Belgians, taking a break outside their barn one summer day as my husband and I were visiting their owners. (I changed it to a winter scene later. Who says there’s no magic in the world?)
Anyway, this painting in turn reminded me of another story from that era, which is the real reason I’m writing this post.
We were visiting another couple and admiring their beautiful new barn. Upon close inspection, the barn appeared to be made from top-quality, cabinet-grade old growth oak.
“It’s gorgeous, but why did you use such beautiful wood for a barn?” my husband asked the man.
“Well,” he replied, “the wood was growing on our own property. It was cheaper to hire the Amish to mill it for us than to go to the lumber yard and buy wood from somewhere else.”
Makes sense. But I wonder, how many people these days might have simply driven to Home Depot and purchased wood rather than look around to see what was available for the taking?
The thing is, it takes a little bit of imagination to look at a tree and see a barn. And you have to be willing to seek out those with the know-how to help you transform the one into the other.
Ask yourself: What treasures might be growing in your own backyard? Would you recognize their worth if you saw them? And who are the human treasures you know who might help you find them?
It’s been a busy couple of months! Between closing one branch of our business and moving the remaining inventory to the other one (4 hours away), selling a property in another part of the state (3 hours away), and preparing to move to another home (6 hours away), I’m just glad my head is attached to my neck or I would have certainly lost it by now.
However, there have been a few life’s gems hidden in the past few weeks otherwise spent packing, loading, driving, unpacking and packing again. We were able to squeeze in a family reunion in the UP of Michigan, where my folks live and my brother and his family visit each year. During this time, Eeva, a family friend, very kindly offered to take the three horse crazy members of the family (my 13 year old daughter Clara, my 11 year old niece Jenna, and yours truly) to the barn where she keeps her beautiful and very sweet Frisian/Quarter Horse gelding, Story Boy.
The girls helped groom him and tack up, and we each had a turn in the saddle before giving him a well-deserved bath and letting him loose in the pasture, where he promptly flopped down and rolled clear over from one side to the next!
Unfortunately, I forgot to bring a camera on the trip, so the only pictures I have of the experience are on my new phone. If I ever figure out how to upload them, I will post them here.
I painted this little piece on a Strathmore blank greeting card as a thank-you to Eeva for sharing her wonderful horse with us that day.It was a bit of a challenge as the paper didn’t allow for my usual wet technique.
(I didn’t try to paint Story Boy, as I didn’t think I could do him justice without a decent reference photo or drawing; the two horses are fictional equine friends.)