Friday, July 18, 2008

Quid pro Quo (Part I)

I realized the other day that I have been a runner for more than 25 years now, starting with middle school track. I was never a standout, but ran, even then, for other reasons: wellness, the feeling of air moving past my body, beginning to know my physical limits. Also all my friends ran track.

Never a sprinter, I moved from track to cross country in high school. I didn't fare any better in the races, but the workouts were better. We practiced in the park and ran our long distances on the various unpaved or skim-shouldered roads around my small hometown.

To this day, a pleasant and deep memory is of running in the country when the corn was at its full height on both sides of a narrow road. It crowded in and provided physical relief in a midwest landscape otherwise unbroken except for remnant forests.

One particular stretch of road had a tree that I loved for its loneliness among the corn. Some years ago I started wanting to capture its image and something of my sentiments about it. I took photographs with my small digital camera, but only when I happened to remember it on a trip to or from my parents' house. In short, the photos weren't great:

New England Road Trip

New England Road Trip

New England Road Trip

Last summer we were at the home of some friends. He is an amateur painter (in addition to a very useful furniture mover, as he proved this past weekend). I had a brainstorm. He could PAINT my tree. Then I would not only have it memorialized, but also have some original artwork for our house.

He was very open to the idea. Within a few weeks of my sending him the photo above, he produced this canvas, much to my delight:

New England Road Trip

We're not in the position to buy art, which meant the issue of payment had to be negotiated. I thought about barter. They are done having kids, so volunteering doula services was out of the question...what else? What else? Knitting of course!

Up next: the knitting commissioned by the artist.

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