The sun wasn’t yet shining, but I could see its light peeking out from behind the treeline. The birds had been singing for a while, that’s what woke me up that morning. Bumblebees searched the garden for the tulips that had budded, but not bloomed, they seemed to understand that the time wasn’t quite right, but that it wouldn’t be long, spring was upon us.
I stood on my porch, looking out at the the sun slowly rise over the pines, they swayed gently in the frigid breeze, creaking like old rocking chairs. I sipped on my steaming mug of coffee, one cream, no sugar, and a splash of whiskey, that’ll wake you up.
My husband, Tobias, was still slumped over the desk in our study, he’d fallen asleep the night before reading some old book about even older movies. He always laughed it off when I told him he was obsessed, but their was too much evidence for him to argue, thanks to him the inside of our house looked like a Planet Hollywood. I never complained though, I spent the majority of my time outdoors, where the smell of my stale cigars, and wildflowers could linger together.
My easel was still where I left it the day before. I looked down at my blank canvas, and the paints that were wasted on winter, all but the grays and greens, the pines never left me wanting, their color was resilient, in a lot of ways, I admired them, not everything, everyone, could survive the winter, its echoing blank void, but they did. Was it admiration, or jealousy? I guess it isn’t hard to confuse the two when watching something thrive while you feel your joy being cast away to the ice, and clouds that hide the light from your soul.
The sun rose, along with my spirit, I sat down my “Best Husband in the Universe” mug, and squeezed yellow and orange paints onto my palette, preparing to capture the beauty of it all. I noticed the cardinals were back, so I retrieved my reds too. Then, being the optimist that I am, I took out some blues, and prayed for the clouds to part ways with the sky. The greens were already swirled into the perfect shade, I had used them so much that my palette was permanently stained, I’d tried washing it numerous times, but it was as stubborn as the trees themselves.
In the quiet winter mornings I would usually put on a record, maybe an old concierto, sometimes I would use a blank one, just to listen to the needle drag, and scratch, but that morning I didn’t bother, I just listened to the birds sing, and it was a lovely song, one of my favorites.
I splashed some orange onto the canvas, and smeared some yellow in with it, the image was pretty, the real thing was stunning. I could never really capture it, that feeling, that warmth, I always tried, and I always came up short, maybe one day I could turn that canvas into a mirror, a window to nature, to peace. It would never be perfect, but like I always say, you can’t go wrong with art.
I dabbed in some white for the clouds that had begun to disperse, and grow less harsh. I dotted in some reds, and blues for the birds I watched fly overheard, dancing in the wind; and of course my trusty green, for those strong, tall pines. I knew the landscape well, during the winter I would lock myself away in our study and paint from memory, trying to add some color, some life, to the melancholy blank slate that was our farm.
On those winter days I would sleep in, and when I would wake up I wouldn’t bother adding whiskey to my coffee, I just enjoyed the whole bottle, less dishes to clean.. Tobias was what people call a snowbird, he would visit his daughter down south for the entire season. We would talk regularly, but our calls were usually cut short when he would get fed up by my inaudible slurring, and rambling. He always said the same thing about his trips, that he and his daughter missed each other, they wanted to spend time together, which was of course true, but I always knew, even though he never said it out loud, the real reason he would leave is that he couldn’t stand to watch me deteriorate.. He just didn’t understand, and maybe he still doesn’t.. he’s a pine.. and I’m just not.. I’m wasted paint..
But on that early Spring day while he slept, and I painted those cardinals, and blue jays, I felt better, I felt like the sun.. I wasn’t bundled up in quilts and blankets hiding in bed, away from the world, I was standing there on that porch in nothing but a robe that I didn’t even bother tying up around my waist. The curtains weren’t drawn, our home welcomed the natural light, and created an atmosphere that really felt like a home, and not just a dwelling, a cave.. And I wasn’t drowning myself in a wave of liquor, just a splash, but old habits are hard to break..
When I’d finished my painting, I decided to take a walk to my favorite spot on the farm, my secret garden. Tobias had surprised me with it on our first anniversary, it was a little cheesy, but I liked it, and though he certainly lacked a green thumb it actually turned out quite beautiful.. I didn’t expect to see much happening there, it was still very early, but to my surprise everything in that underground greenhouse was in full bloom.. Daffodils, Roses, Sunflowers.. They were all standing at attention, gazing at the magnificent beams of sunlight coming through the ceiling. The conditions of the greenhouse were perfect, but still I was surprised to see them, had they been there all along? Could they have grown through the harsh winter? Had I traded the glimpse of their beauty for my own self-defeated wallowing in solitude? I don’t know.. But they were there now.. and they were breathtaking..
I picked a single rose, one of the yellow ones, and took it back to the house with me. I took a roll of scotch tape from our kitchen’s junk drawer, and secured the flower to my painting, and in the bottom corner where you would usually write a signature, I put, “For my love, my tall, strong pine” To this day I still don’t know if he understood what I meant, but I don’t care, winter is on its way again, and that means I’ll be going back into “hibernation”, which also means he’ll be headed south any day now.. but that’s fine, because I know he’ll be back for me, he’s resilient.. our love is resilient..