|Study in Marigolds , Gwen John|
It was such a moment when my 15 year old oldest son asked his older sister if he could join her friends on a trip to the ice skating rink at Stone Mountain. He had been hanging with some friends that I didn't care for and when she said yes, I was thrilled.Jessica had found a peer group by joining the cross country team and these were good kids who worked hard at being the best they could be in that sport. I saw her hesitate when he asked and then nod in assent.I was proud of her and of him for asking .Shortly after that, he joined the team and by the end of his first season had run an awesome mile time.He and she still run to this day.In his heart he knows that this decision to run probably saved his life in many ways.
Another "yes" comes to mind that I had forgotten.When my youngest son was 9 or 10, he and I went to Maggie Valley,S.C. to stay for a few days in a cabin by a small lake.Nearby was the Soho Zoo, a place of refuge for snakes and other herps. At the zoo, was a small gift shop. We wandered around and then my son spotted a Petersen's Field guide to Reptiles and Amphibians and asked if he could have it. My habit, even after going to work ,was to spend as little money as possible on anything. I recall the price of 13 dollars seemed like a lot.Sean told me later that I kept wandering around the store with the book and a tight mouth and furrowed brow until I finally said yes.It is true that this small book changed a boy's life and gave him a passion that he still holds for the natural world. At that age, he became a scientist and he now teaches young adults to honor and respect all of the natural world.
The above painting, "Study in Marigolds" by Gwen John caught my eye as I looked for a piece of art to bring a story to my mind. In her later years , Gwen followed her lover, Rodin, to a town in France where she began dropping into Mass to sketch young girls in their Breton costumes. Eventually, she said "yes" to the love of God who was embracing her in the quiet of her desperate life. She left us with a quote that touches me to my depths;
"Every moment is holy; don't soil the moments.".
I was so delighted to come across this simple painting of hers; these marigolds of such subtle colors. Did she love them as I do?
The first shoots appeared and my joy was uncontained.The plain black dirt was being brought to life from the dead looking seeds that I had planted in a small patch on Long Island. I was 11 when my mother had assented to my request to buy three packets of seeds; marigolds, nasturtiums and bachelor buttons.The first to appear were the marigolds and I have a cache of them here by the door of my Georgia home. When I got older, I recall thanking my mother more than once for investing that dollar in my new passion, one that grabbed my heart in that sprouting moment and has never let go.This story is for you, Mom.