Painting Pictures

October 15, 2012
“Sunshine, do you know the story of this tree?” Papa asked me. I shook my head, my long brown braids whipped around my head.

“I didn’t think so; your dad never wanted anything to do with this farm.” Papa said as he reached out and held my five year hand in between his. “This is where I met your grandma. I remember the first time I laid eyes on her; we were both seven. Your grandma was sitting right up here under this very tree. I had no idea who she was, but everyday she’d be up on this hill sitting under this tree. One day I mustered up the courage to talk to her, all I said was, ‘Why do you always sit here, there’s nothin’ to do.’ She didn’t even turn her head to face me, but instead continued to stare intently at the hills in front of her. ‘I’m painting pictures in my head.”

“Painting pictures, what does that mean, Papa?” I asked as I looked up at his wrinkled face. Papa smiled down at me before turning his attention back to the view.

“To be honest, Sunshine, I have no idea. I sometimes think your grandma was crazy since the day she was born.” Papa grew quiet after that, leaving me to my thoughts about painting pictures. I looked out at the lush green hills spotted here and there with brown cows. Fluffy white clouds floated over the hill casting shadows down its sloping sides. The sun hung near the peak of the hill, warming the hill with its smile. I didn’t get it. I turned my head to look back at the tree. Maybe it was the tree she was fascinated with? The brown bark of the tree looked the same as any other tree, little trails carved into the dark wood. The long outstretched branches shaded the ground from the sun’s rays. A dark opening was punched out of the trunk, I leaned my ear against the rough bark and listened to the small animals inside scurry about their business. I still didn’t get it. Disappointed, I leaned back against the hard trunk and looked up at the sky. White cotton ball clouds were scattered across the brilliant blue sky, each cloud taking on a different animal shape to my eyes. Maybe she liked the smell? I took a deep breath; my senses were assaulted with the smell of freshly cut hay, the pungent smell of cows, and mostly the fresh smell of nature. I think I’m starting to get it. I turned my eyes back to the scene in front of me. The once bright yellow sun was turning orange and sinking down in the sky. The vibrant green grass on the hill swayed with the calming zephyr. The once brilliant blue sky was now streaked with oranges, pinks, and yellows. The sound of the cows mooing in protest, as they were herded back to the barn, filled the slowly quieting air.
Papa squeezed my hand, pulling me out of my thoughts. “Where’d your mind wander this time, Sunshine?” Papa asked.
I looked up at him, scrunching my eyebrows as I thought about what he had asked. “I think I was paintin’ a picture,” I said. Papa’s face lit up with a smile I hadn’t seen since grandma died. Papa leaned down and kissed the top of my head, something he always seemed to do.
“You’re just like your grandma…” Papa trailed off and looked back out at the darkening world. I looked too and together we painted pictures of our favorite spot, just like grandma.





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