They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Let’s see if it’s true. I wanted to take a photograph this morning. I was on my way from my car to the office when I saw something that made me wish my camera was close at hand instead of at home. It rained last night. It was quite stormy to my recollection. It’s seemed less an April shower and more like a lion-hearted March storm. Wind and rain pounded rooftops, windows and streets. Small branches and debris came off of the trees, just breaking free from winter’s dormancy.
Rain was still in the area under a light overcast. The sky was a marble of grays and whites, and the ground shone as pale sunlight reflected off of pavement and asphalt. It didn’t seem overly cold to me, though others seemed to disagree. Hatless, girded against the cold by only a sweatshirt, I set off for work, traversing the familiar route, seeing familiar sights, hearing familiar sounds. Past the airport, turning at the giant factory, I entered the freeway only to exit as quickly as I had entered. There’s a curve on the interchange. I’ve always worried about it, fearful that water might pool at its lowest point and freeze, creating a deadly patch of black ice. It never has, but I still approach it with caution.
As I drive past the giant factory, my mind hears of events beyond my little world, events in places that I would need to reach via one of those airplanes being built off to my left. Japan. Libya. Washington. Wisconsin. My mind grabs that last, perhaps inspired by my proximity to a factory. Knowledge reaches me of people far away voting, fighting against injustice, seeking to protect their way of life against those forces that threaten it.
A couple of turns and an ascent of the long drive bring me to my office where parking is uncharacteristically abundant. Shutting off the car, shutting off the voices on the radio, I climb out and cross a small stretch of wet grass; the soil in which it is rooted is spongy, muddy, saturated from the overnight downpour. The concrete walkway next to the blank white façade of the warehouse in which my office is located is yet to dry. That’s where I see it, the thing I want to photograph, the image I want to capture.
I toy with the idea of using my camera phone, but no, it wouldn’t do the image justice, so I commit it to memory.
Water has formed a puddle on the walkway, a pool: still, placid. Undisturbed by wind’s breath or the touch of water or debris, the pool forms an image, a mirror toward the marbled sky. Dark grey clouds, laden with moisture scud by under a lighter over cast overhead. The rising sun, twin to the white disk still low in the east, gazes up at me from the pool. A nearby tree is silhouetted against the sky, its still-naked limbs reach, grasping for that celestial disk that gives life to all. Closer inspection reveals that the sun has touched them. All up and down the limbs and branches, tiny tips are reflected, the tiny green buds showing as points of light, points of life. Looking at the real tree they are just green buds, but in the reflection those buds are so much more, gleaming with life, with promise in a puddle.
So it’s not quite one thousand words. I guess I’m just a minimalist when it comes to painting with a verbal brush.