The Time Traveling Paintings of my Grandmothers (Day 128)

My Danish Grandmother (Nana) and my Great Grandmother (Granny) were both painters. I have their paintings all over the house.  My Granny preferred still life paintings--flowers and fruit and vases. I never met my Granny, but having her artwork makes me feel like I know her a little.  I can imagine the time it took to arrange the flowers just right and I can see the layers and layers of oil paint, that make the inside of the flowers bloom, as they do outside. 

Today, I realized that the painting of red and purple poppies that hangs on my stairs matches the poppies that bloom in my garden each year. I’ve adore this poppy painting since I was a little girl—it was hung in my playroom and then, later, my bedroom. 

My Nana painted landscapes--usually from pictures of places she had been. I have a whole range of scenes from the Jersey shore and barns in the countryside and deep forests. I also have one covered bridge. 

She painted that picture in 1977, the year I was born. It's moved with me from Bucks County to Philadelphia and to Fairfax, Vermont to NJ to my first house and now to Eldridge. It was in my first house that I realized this covered bridge was not just a random covered bridge--it was actually the only covered bridge in Fairfax, Vermont. And that bridge was just steps from my apartment in Fairfax.  

Fairfax is not a well-known place. It is nestled sort of close to Smuggler's Notch--but not close enough to be a destination for skiers. It is also sort of close to St. Albans, which compared to Fairfax is a bustling town--and on the way to the Canadian Border.  I don’t know exactly how I ended up in Fairfax—it was just convenience—I needed an apartment and had a limited time to look for one and this place fit my needs-- close enough to Burlington (where I worked) and allowed pets.

I have no idea how my Nana ever managed to find herself with a picture of a covered bridge in Fairfax, Vermont--and why she painted it (it is not a particularly magnificent bridge) and why out of all her paintings, it ended up being one in my own collection--the collection that moved all over with me--even to the place that inspired it. 

There is something magical about this. My Nana died my sophomore year of college. She had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease for 4 years at that point. I lost her long before she died.  Never met my Granny—she was gone before I began. 

But both their paintings seem like time travelers—bits of them left behind from places they had once been and places that I was yet to go. It is like carrying my grandmothers with me and somehow feeling their wisdom and goodness surrounding me, even when they seem like they are so long-gone and faraway.