>the painter’s son


Someone left a Tidbits newsletter in the cafeteria down the hall from my photography class. I read it while I ate my gryos-to-go dinner. Class wasn’t due to start until six. I had thirty minutes to read about everything I didn’t know about aviation, this week’s Tidbits topic.
Did I know it wasn’t true that seagulls would explode if they accidentally ate an Alka-Seltzer tablet?
I didn’t know it had ever been considered true. But what if they ate it on purpose, did that change anything?
What I wanted to know was more about the Spruce Goose and how it must have felt to build such a plane and then spend a million dollars a year for thirty years storing it, preserving it, keeping it from the sky.

I never found out. The newspaper told me about its three minute flight over the shoreline of Long Beach, but never strayed into any realm that might have shared that sense of limited flight Hughes must have experienced when he ground his spruce.
Once class began, our Irish instructor, whose ability to say eighteen and eighty exactly the same continues to persuade me he’s more poetic than he would admit, talked to us about focus. Apparently there are internal gyroscopes in cameras and lenses that work towards achieving stability. More stability, sharper focus.

It is his opinion, he told us as he moved through the aisles, glancing at the photos we students had up on our computer screens, that the better stabilization components in a lens are those found nearest the center point of gravity.

I flipped my notebook to the back pages where I kept poetry notes, and carefully reworded his words. It doesn’t do any good to steady our hands if the point of unease is coming from where we stand.
I left class feeling steady. Feeling grounded can happen in a variety of ways, I thought to myself as I walked across the nearly empty parking lot. I hadn’t expected a class in focus could be so reassuring. I was feeling grounded in a good way, not grounded in a spruce-goose sort of way.
Back home, I thumbed through my Blackberry to download a photo of the door. (Here I am taking a photography class and yet I still take photos with my phone.)
Door, door, doorknob, door . . . and then . . . little blond boy in blue.

I had forgotten him.
Not too long ago, in an effort to get the rest of my house painted before bad weather hit, I volunteered to babysit my painter’s toddler so he could  finish painting.
Saturday morning, the little guy followed his dad around my yard, doing a pretty good job of staying out of paint. Both his dad and I were unsure if Little Boy In Blue would come inside with me while his father stayed outside to paint. But he came inside, crawled onto my lap, rubbed his eyes and slept. I quietly snapped his  photo with my cell phone camera, thinking how I envied his steady, trusting way.

About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website: https://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com

7 responses to “>the painter’s son

  1. >Thank you for this line: "It doesn't do any good to steady our hands if the point of unease is coming from where we stand." I love this post and the subtle way it all interrelates. I'm enjoying you sharing the wisdom you are gleaning from your photography instructor in ways he probably does not suspect. It reminds me how important it is to be open to what we experience, based on what we bring to it; and to savor our response.

  2. >I think I know what it is that you do with your writing that makes it so good. You have a style of writing that starts with seemingly unrelated subjects, bring them slowly together and into "focus", so to speak. I love it!I don't know about the seagull and the Alka Seltzer but it's a very sad visual and I hope it doesn't happen often to these beautiful birds. I suspect someone did it as an experiment, which is even worse. I hate to be so suspecting of human nature. "Eating it on purpose" takes on a whole new meaning. Either way… it's a sad commentary about man's impact on Nature.

  3. >Again, beautiful and refreshing. Loved the picture of the little boy blue. How remarkable that trust is, and I wonder at what point we lose that ability…the assurance that the world has arms for us to hold on to and laps to climb into when we are tired. I guess part of what it means to grow up is to recognize things for what they are, the dangers, the pitfalls and with this knowledge we lose that innocent trust. I think the decision to keep trusting and to keep an open heart while not denying the innate danger that comes from this is probably one of the bravest things a human can do.

  4. >PS I'm stealing this: "It doesn't do any good to steady our hands if the point of unease is coming from where we stand." And posting in on the quote of the week section of my blog. It's too good not to!

  5. >The comment from your photography instructor (Irish at that!) about steady hands sounds like something my yoga teacher would say…fantastic how we can take something and make it all our own. The creative process at it's basics! I can imagine anything your instructor says would sound like poetry with that Irish lilt.

  6. >"It doesn't do any good to steady our hands if the point of unease is coming from where we stand."You should have kept that line to yourself. Now there will be a mad rush to see who can use it in a poem first.

  7. >thanks everyone!as farmlady wrote, i felt the way one thing paired to another- never sure if others follow things in the same way, so i am glad the photography class leading to the painter's son was a connection you all felt. and yes mel, you can use the quote. someday it'll be in a poem (hopefully mine…)

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