July 18, ‘13
When I pulled up to the Litchfield Green this morning I had 7 minutes to spare before showing up at my job, so I took the long way around to my client’s house rather than go through the light and into the line of traffic going west on the state-road. I hadn’t planned on going through White’s Woods but it was on the way and just too enticing to bypass. Within a quarter mile loop, there’s Nature and pure peace, so that’s the way I decided to go before getting back onto my original track.
And, of course, once I pulled onto the dirt road, I couldn’t resist making a video of my short journey in which were many way-back memories from the past — as far back as to when I was a small kid with my parents or grand-parents or a teenager with friends or etc etc.
My most prevalent memories had to do with the 13 years I lived in Litchfield before I moved to Torrington. I lived within 5 minutes distance of the bank above the river where there’s a large pine and a few large rocks. That was my favorite place to go and I went there often – in the early morning before work or in the late afternoon after work. I have a few sketchbooks that show I went there frequently in the last 2 years I lived in Litchfield. I titled these paintings either Matins or Vespers with a date. Matins being morning prayers, Vespers being evening prayers and praying which I was doing a lot of.
When I got there this morning, it seemed to me that very little had changed in the 5 or so years since I was last there. The stones and the trees, as always, looked to me like a gigantic Zen garden, newly swept….
The 2nd to the last time I was there I’d driven down from Torrington and brought my lunch. While I was eating, I was accosted by 2 men in a bright red pickup truck who were drinking beer and making attempts to ‘talk me up.’ They were vaguely threatening – a 3.5 and rising on a 1-10 scale. They had me at a disadvantage as they were on the road between me and my car and I was between them and the river. I’d forgotten my cell phone and had (foolishly!) made the decision not to go back for it. My knees were like jelly. I finished my lunch, crunched up the wax paper and told them it was nice talking to them and it was time to get back to work. I pretended to work and ignore them at the same time, hoping they couldn’t see how my fingers were trembling. They stayed about 3 more minutes trying to engage in conversation as I continued to focus on my painting and ignore them. They finished their beer, threw the cans out the windows, the driver gave a great sigh and slowly drove away. I didn’t look up from my work until I heard them go around the corner, to the right and up the same hill that finishes the video.
The last time I went there to paint was a few days after I encountered the men in the pickup. I was armed with a can of Wasp spray and my cell phone but nary a car or truck drove by the whole 2 hours I was there. I left that day feeling as if I’d reclaimed my peace and sense of well-being so precious to me in this place; the sense of violation was expiated, the sanctuary swept clean.
I don’t go there any more because I moved over 14 miles away and the cost of gas is prohibitive. I recall having gone there a few times in the past years much as I went this morning, have slowed-down — car and racing thoughts — before driving the tiny loop to see and hear all there is to see and hear and coming to the end of the drive filled with a sense of peace and sanity re-stored – kind of like Drive-Through Therapy – which it was this morning. I’d forgotten how much I used to love to go there and paint and listen to the birds. The birds were there this morning to remind me how sweet their sound.