Rings and other jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only gift is a portion of thyself....Therefore the poet brings his poem; the shepherd, his lamb; the farmer, corn...the girl, a handkerchief of her own sewing...it is a cold, lifeless business when you go to the shops to buy me something, which does not represent your life and talent, but a goldsmith’s.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson
Last summer, I got a postcard from a new but already dear friend. It read,
I walked up to this little cemetery on the hill above Jackson, and while I was sitting there enjoying the last of the afternoon sun, I was reminded of your post about family history...and that cemetery story. Sending my love from Jackson Hole--
Real mail! From a real person! How often does that happen these days?
But it gets better. The postcard was not some generic photo of Wyoming, but an original watercolor my friend had painted on that hill just for me. "Enjoying the last of the afternoon sun" for her was not just drinking in the light, but using it to capture the scene before her in deft and vivid strokes.
Miraculously, the little painting survived the postal system and arrived in my mailbox unscathed. I took it to my favorite framer in all the world, Edie at The Art Barn. Edie is a genius at setting our art; this time was no exception. A few weeks later, I picked this up:
The photo does not do the original justice--neither the painting nor the frame. (And my walls are a warm, rich cream, not the dinginess you see here.)
I wanted to scan the picture and frame for this post, but experienced technical difficulties. So trust me: the colors are deeper and richer; Charrette's gift and skill amaze me. The painting is double matted in dove gray behind museum glass, and the beaded frame suits the mood of the subject perfectly. Everytime I see it--it is in my bedroom, so I see it often--I feel joy.
How did Charrette know that her creation would evoke for me everything I love about the American West? That I live for art, and that watercolors in particular are special to me? That her gift of self would cement the bonds of a budding friendship such that I knew I could trust her in a recent time of deep, dark need?
I don't know; all I know is that friends like Charrette are a true blessing.
This past January, Charrette and I met in person for the first time. She and her terrific husband were funny and kind and interesting and authentic. A couple of days later, Charrette and another lovely pal and I met and talked for hours; it was as if we had known each other always. And you know what? I believe we always have--and that we always will.