Usually, when I visit my parents in Santa Barbara, California, I also set up my easel and make a painting in their yard. They have cultivated a garden and take care of their corner lot, with its giant pine trees, orange and lemon trees, and tall hedge that guards the perimeter of the property. The last time I spoke with my mother and talked about her beloved rose plants, she said, “Oh yes, they are beginning to bloom. You know Steven, I have eighty rose bushes and they each have at least ten flowers . . . that is 800 flowers!”
I know the yard well—and all the varieties of color and scent of her roses. She has a special relationship with the plant life around her, and holds conversations with the growing things that exist in her surroundings.
Although my parents are advanced in age and becoming frail, they take deep satisfaction in their surroundings. The bird feeder outside the dining room window is replenished, a man comes regularly to mow the lawn and trim the hedges, and my mother prays every day in thanks for the elements and nature around her.
I know that the jasmine outside their backdoor is now finishing its bloom. Its unmistakable fragrance is etched in my memory.
Hopefully, I can arrive there again in the next few months . . . and make another painting. I always call it “Mother's Backyard” and after I bring it back to Santa Fe, it always sells to someone who finds emblems of love within it.
|"Mother's Backyard" oil on linen, 16 x 20 inches