Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Muse is Plaster and Lathe

My daughter took a photograph of an old white house, a snapshot in time from a friend's homestead we visited today. I wished the walls could talk, so perhaps I'll lend them my voice...

I'm imagining in my head tonight a story of a young girl, perhaps near fourteen, who lives in the country on her family's farmstead in the 1870s- with draft horses and chickens for her companions. A gnarled old oak tree stands by the roadside, perhaps, and she is at odds with a local boy named Jacob, whose family lives near the local church.

I picture her in a two story clapboard house that's been whitewashed, but not too recently, and she sleeps on a straw mattress set atop a rope bed, with calico linens and a well-loved patchwork quilt. Her favorite patch on the quilt is a bit of chocolate brown corduroy from her grandfather. It smells faintly of grass and tobacco smoke.

There's a garden under the bedroom window with morning glories, daisies, german chamomile and black-eyed susans, and when the window is left open on cool evenings in the early summer, she can almost smell the dampness of the earth as the night air wafts through the room. Moonlight sets the wooden floor, worn smooth by the years, aglow in blue light. Her name, I think, is Rachel.

Her favorite place is the hayloft in the family's bank barn, where she spends hours hiding with her cat Clementine, who is a tortoiseshell mixture of blacks and browns, with shiny, smooth fur, other than the cockleburs that often get stuck behind her ears as she chases mice and mischief along the edge of where the wheat field meets the forest. In the loft, amongst the sweet sticky smell of the hay and the scratching sounds of mice searching for stray grains, Rachel finds a space all tucked away from the world, and it is here she imagines herself as many things, chief among them a world-famous artist.

Maybe someday soon you can meet Rachel as she comes to life in my imagination and watch her grow here on the blog...

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