I’m pretty sure this self-reliant, tough-as-nails farm chic is the only thing I fought for, other than shared custody of my kiddos, in my divorce settlement.. I found this gorgeous 100 year old etching by Georges Laugee at an antique store with my then husband, early in my adult life..Even then, ensconced in the of a 21 year old art history student, I knew, that this lady had some wisdom and strength to depart on me…And my hubby at the time, to his credit, saw a beautiful piece of history and art as well.
She embodied the transition from a romanticized Rubenesque heroine, to a depiction of what true heroism was…A woman with the strength to bloody her fingers, gather the harvest, pull up her bloomers, and get the job done to provide for her family. The 18th & 19th century French, English and American genre painters like Knight, Millet, Breton, Gainsborough, Courbet, and Laugee captured the light and strength of a people group, that although foreign to my spoiled, city-slicker self may be, still inspired a spark of rugged-individualism and survival, that I needed to discover, as adulthood and all of its complications hit me, square in the face.
She had survived, framed in a 116 year old glass frame, through 6 moves, a divorce, 2 toddlers, a forest fire evacuation, and God knows how many other near catastrophes that this messy life throws at you..Until this fall. I went to New York on a business trip, just a few days after adopting a feral kitten and introducing her to my rescue hound..They took to each other like peas and carrots, bouncing around in a boiling cauldron of chicken pot pie…By the time I left for NY, those two pathetic rescue animals were tossing about like WWF wrestlers..It’s the only explanation I have for how this beautiful piece of framed history was knocked off the wall. My house sitter came in to a glimpse of the apocalypse.. He said a piece of art had fallen off the wall, and glass was shattered all over the kitchen…When he described the piece, my heart sank..For as many of my original paintings as I have hanging around, this ancient lithograph was something so near and dear to my heart and farm-girl psyche, it was something I could never repaint. I was terrified of what I would come home to. He cleaned up the glass as best he could, gave Skunk and Bear the stink eye, and a few extra pats to try and keep them in line, and left the mess for me to clean up..
I came home two days later, the glass had been swept up, the broken frame tossed aside, but still standing was the original etching..Albeit with a few kitten chew marks on the corners, and I thought this lady..This lady shattered glass, and lived to tell the tale.
This election day, when the entire world feels like a powder keg of animosity, polarized parties, and forced history, I, as a strong independent woman, who has scrimped, labored, and worried about my destiny, and those of my children..I contemplate..who do I look to for strength and inspiration? Who pushes me to be a better person? I look at this farm girl, and I know that it isn’t a flawed politician or a prince in whom I trust..I look to the Lord who sustains me, and I dig deep within, and remember my forefathers, the ranchers, the farmers, the artists, the teachers, the thinkers, the factory workers, the pioneer women who made this country, and made me, and realize that they’ve been shattering glass for centuries..There is no place for fragility if you want to survive and make a good life for your children. There is no room for victim-hood. There is only a spirit of enlightenment, community, of barn-raising, of share-cropping, of rugged-individualism, and loving and caring for your family and your neighbor that this nation, and it’s people will survive upon.
No matter what happens today, this craziest, most draining of election days, let us remember those who built the foundations of our freedom and prosperity.. Let us honor them by joining in a communal spirit of loving and caring for our neighbors, no matter who they voted for, or what the outcome may be. God have mercy on our land. Let us love, and give us the resources to care for our families and our neighbors as we would ourselves.
Exhausted after a day of demolition and wrestling.