By CAROLE DAVIS
Two words put together are very powerful. They are “thank you.” It only takes an instance to say thank you, which suddenly becomes an action as well as a gift to someone else as our expression of our very own thanks. You are the person who gives away the thanks. Now put two other words together, and you have the one word: Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving Day is our national holiday set apart for the feasting, and our thanks to God which is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in America. It’s pumpkin time here in our great state of Mississippi, and it is that extra special time to head to the pumpkin patch in the ‘ole vegetable garden and select the perfect orange ripened pumpkin to make pumpkin pie for family dinner.
I remember another early morning when I skipped out the old wooden back door on Oct. 8, 1997 when I heard that familiar sound of the screen door slam, and down the eight brick steps I skipped. I opened up the driver’s side of the car filled with all my art supplies and headed to my selected spot for the day to paint to my heart’s content. I crossed a busy Highway 82 over to Reed Road. I spotted a perfect still life scene to paint, and I had phoned the gentleman who owned this home and yard the day before to ask permission to stand on the edge of his front yard to create my painting. He graciously agreed.
There was a very antique-looking, bent-and-beat-up wheelbarrow. This particular wheelbarrow was extra special because it had real character about it. It had a past life about it! I wondered who, where and what had really been its mission as a now very used wheelbarrow? I wish it could talk to me about its past! I shall just wonder and think about the answers as I paint all day in my chosen spot.
I parked my car, popped up my portable red easel and colorful umbrella, got out all of my art supplies and placed my blank piece of canvas on the easel. I was ready to spend the next few hours in Heaven sketching and painting. Hopefully at the end I would have experienced all the sounds, smells and movement of everyone passing me by on the busy highway. I have to block out all the exciting busy world, and I go into my own personal bubble world to think and create.
Let’s read this still life/landscape together left to right starting at the top of the canvas like we would a sentence in a book.
I fell in love with the antique wheelbarrow which was twisted, dented, rusty and very used. You will first spot a green plastic flower pot filled with the dropping last of the hot pink geraniums just hanging on for dear life. Look at the pink ones on the side of the wheelbarrow. Do they need a drink of water? Look at each of the five brightly colored orange pumpkins just quietly, peacefully resting or are they taking a catnap together as they snuggle side by side? Look at their shapes, round, oblong, skinny, fat and medium sized ones as they are leaning, propping together much like a family of pumpkins. They are snuggling, huddling in this old wheelbarrow box. One is a very tall pumpkin that disappears off of my canvas at the top. The sixth one to the left by the wheel is outside the box on the ground besides that very squeaky, used old wheel. This bent and sagging wheelbarrow seems to have been shaped through use and time which is the perfect fit for all the other five pumpkins. That one big pumpkin on the ground stands alone, and it looks so pretty. Look at the browns, grays and silvers of the metal and the strong gray wooden handles of the wheelbarrow. I love the rusty look of the back of the wheelbarrow. It is just exquisite against the gray metals. What great contrast of colors.
Now look at the whole painting as the completed sentence. It was a bright and beautiful early morning as well as into the afternoon. This entire painting whispers in our ears, “Pick me out for your pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving Day. This entire painting is so bright and vibrant!
I thought back in my own life of all the past Thanksgivings that we as a family enjoyed. Mama, Elizabeth, Daddy, John and my only sibling Johnny would sit down at our big dining table in the big old dinning room at 501 Louisville St. We would bow our heads, and we uttered our thanks at high noon. We dug into Mama’s prepared delicious feast. We always ended our dinner with a slice or two of pumpkin pie topped with a spoonful of fluffy whipped cream. We had eaten so much that our tummies were hurting and we were so sleepy. We all began to mention things we were grateful and appreciated the most in that particular past year. I grew up in the early ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s. To be honest with you, I never did grow up because if I did, I would be old! I am trying to stay young and avoid old age.
Close your eyes, think and list all the things your are thankful for this year. I’ll do the same: 1. I am thankful to be an American for our freedom and to truly believe as Abraham Lincoln said, We are all created equally.” (I bet ‘ole Abe got his quote from God in the Holly Bible, what do you think?) 2. I am thankful for my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great grandparents and all the other generations who lived before me. 3. I am grateful for my husband, Frank of 48 years, our three beautiful grown children and our grandchildren. 4. I’m thankful for my good health and for enjoying every second, minute and hour of breathing and living life to its fullest. 5. I am thankful for my own talents to be able to create paintings and to write about them as I see and feel on my canvas as a visual artist and as a writer, and then share them with each of you as I tap on my computer. I think sometimes artists see faces, (portraits), places, (landscapes) and everything else slightly different than you see them. We share our deepest feelings that come from our heart and soul, and we paint them for you to then share them with me. 6. I am thankful for having the basic needs that we each desire which is food, shelter, clothing and transportation. 7. I am thankful to have been educated and am proud our educational opportunities especially for living in the shadows of our largest educational institution, Mississippi State University. 8. I am proud to have the choice to worship, play, contribute and be who I am as an individual living each day in this country of freedom.
Now I want each of you to stop reading my column, bow your heads and list in your own mind and then on paper what you too are most thankful for right now and again on the last Thursday of November. Think of those early pilgrims and American Indians joining hands together, enjoying a first Thanksgiving meal, and realizing that we are all just brothers and sisters on this planet together.
Carole McReynolds Davis is a local artist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org .