Putney House, 18x18
The sun goes in and out of clouds as I drive to Vermont on a beautiful Sunday morning. I get off the highway and scout the back roads, full of hills and farm stands and beautiful golden foliage.
I stop in Putney, VT, at Harlow's Sugar House, and ask the woman inside for permission to set up and paint in the parking lot. Across the way stands a fine house - but what interests me is the colors in the bushes at the edge of the yard, the leaning birch trees and the stream twisting through the grass.
Not much happens while I paint. The woman in the sugar house had been reading a book, and I'd think she must have nearly finished it by the time I am finishing my painting. Only a few cars pass by, and only two of them stop.
But across the street, someone is watching me. I watch him, as he does what appear to be chores around the house. Then he gets into a car and drives up to a shed on the property.
I don't see him again until I am packed up and ready to go. He hurries across the road, and I can see then that he has some sort of physical problem, that he lurches to take a step, and sort of drags a leg - and the side of his body - along.
He is out of breath when he reaches me, but cheerful, glad that he's gotten to me in time. Turns out he is the youngest son of the family that lives in the house. His mom has died, and his dad is in a long bout with Alzheimer's. Dan's older brother has inherited most of the property, and the Sugar House. Dan lives in a trailer below the orchard, and has for 25 years. "I'm trailer trash!" he says to me, with a crooked smile showing not-great teeth.
As our talk is nearing its end, he tells me that his older brothers used to ride dirt bikes, and those older brothers were gods to him. So he started riding, too. On one ride, daring and speeding, he broke his neck. The doctors told him he'd never walk again.
They sent him home, and through friends, he developed a serious cocaine addiction. His life was going nowhere, he says, and then everything shifted. He got straight, found his faith, and with help and patience and belief, learned to walk again.
He laughs his crooked-toothed laugh and looks up at the sky and shouts, "Thank you, God!" then turns to me and says, "I'm a little nuts." Then a friend pulls up and Dan gets in the truck and with a wave, drives away.
Scenes from the Road
Above, isn't this tree amazing, growing virtually from the rock - and in this blazing color!
Below, a glance up the main street in Putney, VT.
Stunning scenery in Westfield, MA.
Dogs of the Day
Saw these two on leashes in West Hartford, CT -
but I have no problem imagining them out in the wild...
A Final Thought
"I see the turning of a leaf dancing in an autumn sun,
and brilliant shades of crimson glowing when a day is done."
- Hazel Mattie Elliott