Discover more from Letters from an American
April 22, 2023
I have taken the day off entirely, checking the news only for global catastrophes. Since we seem to have mostly avoided them, I am going to finish off a relaxing day by going to bed early.
I’m posting one of Buddy’s photos for tonight both because it is lovely and because there is a bit of a cool story behind it. It is an image from Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park, where we hiked a couple of weeks ago. The pond is beautiful and well-known, but I had never been there before.
When I was a child, I loved a painting my mother had of a scene also captured in a framed photograph she owned, faded by then into grays. The painting was not great art, but it was made up of the blues and browns and greens I have always loved, and the water and mountains spoke to me. Mother always told me the picture was painted by a friend of her father’s— he died when I was a baby— and it was an image of one of their favorite fishing spots, although she had no idea where it was.
Mother gave that painting to me, and I have always had it up in one place or another, so Buddy knows it, too.
A few weekends ago when we stood at this spot at the end of Jordan Pond, we said almost at the same time: “It’s that painting.”
Very cool to stand in the same spot my grandfather’s friend painted in what can’t have been later than the 1930s, and see the same thing he saw. The past is really not that far away.
But what really struck me seeing this view was the inverse of that observation. For my grandfather’s nameless and long-gone fishing buddy, who certainly never knew that the painting he made for his friend would continue to speak to someone a hundred years later, the future wasn’t that far away either.
[Photo by Buddy Poland]