My great-grandfather had been a glass blower, like his father before him and the cottage they lived in had stayed in the family, though my father had broken that line. I hadn’t know my father that well and despite the glass making trade being gone, there was something in my heart and soul that drew me towards it.
I didn’t set out to make any money from my glass designs, it was just a hobby but then it turned out people were interested to own my pieces and before I know it, I had brought my great-grandfather’s trade back to life.
The dead tree in the park was to be removed but first an artist had been allowed access. He had thought awhile about what to do – paint the tree? Chainsaw sculpt an image? Use the branches to display other works of art?
He liked that idea! But he was going to need help. He ran art classes in schools so decided to get the young people to make pieces to decorate the tree. Then they all went out and did just that.
Lastly, everyone carved their names into the trunk signing the art piece off.
Jim had always known that retirement wasn’t for him, ‘become like a vegetable in front of the TV? No!’ he repeatedly said.
He set out to do some travelling whilst turning his hand to a number of things, ‘a man can have many hobbies. Keeps him busy and away from the wife!’ Jim spoke.
One afternoon, he was looking at new places to visit and saw that some artists had created wood carvings from cut down trees, ‘and I thought to myself, you could have a go at that and so I did!’ Jim explained.
My granddad saved the carved wooden cupboard door from a skip. He said it was too nice to throw away and he could easily build it into something. The carving sat in his shed for years and each time I saw it, I asked what it was of and he’d tell a different story each time;
‘It’s a knight saving his village from a monster attack.’
‘The windmill’s on fire and that guard is charging in to save the man’s family.’
‘A staving solider is raiding a farm.’
Those stories stuck with me and when granddad died, I tried hard to find the carving wanting to save it. We searched everywhere with no luck but I couldn’t believe granddad would have just gotten rid of it.
Then my older brother removed a small cupboard that was in the hallway and on the back of it I saw the carved panel!
‘So, he did finally get to use it!’ I cried, hugging the cupboard.
I took the cupboard home with me and placed it in my bedroom. I can see the carving all the time now and recall all those memories of granddad.
It was just another day, another job as he pulled up next to the wall of graffiti. Getting out of the car, he looked at the brightly coloured imagines of teddy bears. His shoulders dropped and he knew he was going to be able to bring himself to wash them away.
What appeared before me wasn’t what I had set out to do. Studying the piece of art -if it could be called that, I felt a chill along my back. It wasn’t my own work at all, yet I knew I had painted the green skull which looked more like a mask, onto the paper plate. I had a strange wanting to press it to my face….but I didn’t.
Life is like the flow of a river, I realised looking up at the waterfall from the canvas I had been painting on. You start off like a spring then become a stream, turning this way and that as you take different paths. Then you join a river and carry on going through things; some good and some bad, changing and growing older. Finally, you join the sea ending your life.
I looked down at the canvas balanced on the small easel, the painting I had done was a likeness of the waterfall and mossy rocks below, but I didn’t like it. Some of the strokes looked childlike and I really hadn’t captured the true beautiful force of the waterfall. I signed and began to pack up. It was always the same when I paused and valuated my art; I couldn’t go on when I became negative about it.
When I was done, I stood and watched the river carrying on tumbling down. The sound was so calming and mixed in with the soft singing of the birds and the rustle of the trees this place was a peaceful spot. The river then bubbled past me and away into a cluster of trees towards the next waterfall. It began raining.
I looked up at the sky frowning then ducked into the cover of some trees. A thought popped into my head; this is the full circle of water. I watched the raindrops falling in the ground and realised that we too became a part of the earth, only we didn’t raise up again. It was a morbid thought but at the same time reassuring.
The river couldn’t stop it’s flow and nor could we stop the flow of life.