Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Waiting for Papa

soft pastel on 300gsm hotpress, pumice ground added
30x28 cm (11.5x12 in)

The other day, I was standing at my front window watching the snow come down. It reminded me of a night a long time ago, when my eldest was a toddler and her sister still a baby. We lived in a college town in the foothills of the Siskiyou Mountains in southern Oregon. I was going to school in the morning while my husband watched the kids (they all slept in). After I came back from my classes, we all ate lunch together, and my husband went to his second shift job in the valley. In the evening, we all waited for him to come home so the kids could spend some time with him before going to bed.

On this particular night, a mountain snowstorm crept unexpectedly down from the mountains into the valley. The snow fell heavily, and piled up quickly. The phones were out, and the lights flickered, though never went out. The streetlamp across the street cast a cone of light, but the snow was so thick we couldn't make out the large church behind it.

I was worried. My toddler refused to go to bed until her papa got home, so we all stood in front of the street window, waiting, long past the time he usually arrived. I'd told her that maybe the highway was blocked and Papa would stay safe in the town in the valley. But she insisted that "Papa is coming".

Finally, well past midnight, he did come. The highway was blocked by snow and accidents and traffic backed up from the mountains (the freeway hadn't yet been built). But he'd followed a county plow on a back road almost the length of the valley to get home-- the advantages of knowing a place the way only someone who has grown up there can. My young daughter excitedly jumped up and down and said "I told you he'd come!"

We spent the next few days building snowpeople and snowcats, walking in the snow, and drinking hot chocolate in front of the stove. And being happy in each other's company.

I envisioned this painting just as it appears. It is a memory, and I wanted it to look like one.