Thursday, October 2, 2008

Foxes and The Tree

Foxes and the Tree
30" x 40"
Acrylics on Vellum
The moon was still up in the west while the sun was rising in the east as I drove to work on highway 6. On this particular morning, as I passed by "the tree", there seemed to be a family of foxes romping through the grass. Their brown backs and tails arched almost like waves as they ran across the field. The stump from the tree's "friend" was still visable. The red wooden gate that opened to the pasture was colorful and welcoming against the golden color of the fall grass.
Years ago, there were two trees left on this hill. We used to drive past on our way between Bryan and Hearne, after the new highway was completed. Prior to the new highway, the road passed a little to the east in front of an old fashioned filling station, then curved back to go across a creek bottom and under the railroad bridge. After some bad wrecks, the highway department decided to straighten out some curves in highway 6, which then took us closer to the tree on the hill.
We were surprised when we saw that one tree had been struck by lightning. The stump remained and the burned tree lay across it for years. Eventually, the burned tree disappeared and the stump shrunk into the grass. But that one tree remained.
"The Tree" became a landmark to watch as I drove back and forth to work, home, shopping. "Where are you?" My daughter would ask on the cell phone. "I'm just coming to the tree," I would answer.
The tree looked like it was stretching, or about to run or dance. Sometimes it seemed sad, there, all alone, without a friend. (If you ever watch Bob Ross or William Alexander paint, you will see that they add a tree, then give it a "friend".) Sometimes, it seemed weak and about to die in times of drought. There were times when it appeared to be fearful, when grass and forest fires threatened, especially from the railroad just across the highway, or from passing cars that threw out cigarettes.
I imagine that, once, this land was covered with trees, like the land below the hill before someone wanted more pasture land, or the railroad and highway came through. I wonder who decided which tree to leave and why. I'm sure that they never would have guessed that their decision to leave that tree would bring attention and pleasure to people in our time.
I passed by this tree so much that I made a little rhyme to pass the time and to help me to relax a bit.
"Good Morning, Tree!
Watch after me.
And be my friend.
I surely need a friend today!"
And going home,
"Goodnight, Tree!
I'm going home now.
Keep your roots deep
And your branches strong."
That's all there was time for as I whizzed past. But, it made me laugh, sometimes. I guess it was therapeutic.
We debated about what kind of tree it is. I always thought it was an oak tree. But a bus driver when we were on a field trip, told me that she thought it is a pecan tree. I never was close enough to it to look at the leaves.
Now, the red gate is gone, replaced by a metal one. A huge metal barn of a building by the railroad tracks has been built, spoiling the view across the highway from the tree. I just try to look toward the tree and not at that ugly building when we drive past. Some kind of company built it and bulldozed the land there. The old fillling station could still be seen, from the back, as it was at the fork of the old and new highway. An old house was behind the station, further up the hill. For years, trees and vines pushed the old house over, and sometimes covered it. I couldn't see them the last trip there and hope that they haven't been bulldozed, too. At least, I do have photos, and memories of them.
In the spring, the hill is covered with Bluebonnets, followed by Indian Paintbrushes, then Black Eyed Susans and tiny white and blue flowers that are common, but I don't know the names. Soon after the yellow flowers, the Highway Department and landowners mow before everything is too dry, in case of wildfires. This time of year, the grass is still green, cattle graze on the hill, while the 18 wheelers and other traffic race past on the curve. Sometimes loads in the trucks shift as trucks navigate the hill and the curve, and over the trucks go.
This size painting is a small one, to me. I really prefer to work large. To others, it would appear to be huge at 30" x 40".
I've done this tree several sizes, in different media from memory and from photos.
When you are rushing between Bryan and Hearne, take a little time to notice "The Tree". Smile and say "Hello" or "Goodnight". I'll bet that you will soon pay attention to more trees and landscape, and it will put you in a little better mood.
Entries for the Brazos Valley Art League Fall Juried Show
are due at the P. David Romei Art Center tomorrow from 10-2.
Judging is Oct. 4 followed by the opening reception
See their website at
First Friday in Downtown Bryan
Friday Oct. 3
Art, Music, Entertainment, A movie, Fun, Food
Sign Up For
Plein Aire Painting Workshop in Calvert
with Virginia Vaughan
Saturday Oct. 18
Deposit due Oct. 11
Plan to Participate in the
20th World Wide Sketch Crawl
Saturday October 25
the Victorian Tea, Gala, and Street Fair
in Calvert
Saturday October 4.
Click on the link in my sidebar for pictures and information.


V....Vaughan said...

Love the GESTURE on this tree!

Cecelia said...

Thank you, Virginia. That tree does look like it is about to do ballet!