This week the third graders in my art class worked on blending. We looked at portraits painted by German Expressionists. Emil Nolde and Paula Modherson-Becker were so free with their use of color and loose brush strokes; allowing the subject’s heart and soul to jump right off the canvas and make us wonder who they are.
Outside of school, we worked on blending ourselves into this foreign world we find ourselves in, even though our hearts and souls often seem set on crawling back into our Vermont lives like a comfy bed. And pulling the familiar comforter over our heads. Maybe even shedding a tear or two under those cozy covers.
There were definitely some trying moments this week when we wondered who we really think we are,
and question again our motives for pulling our kids up from their stable lives and bringing them here where there is so much that is unknown and strange, and simply not the way we are used to having things be.
We tried crawling into the bamboo cathedral, a path through the rainforest flanked by an extraordinary number of bamboo trees which arch across creating a stain glass roof with bamboo lead outlining geodesic shapes filled with leaf and sky glass.
Maybe we could hide ourselves in here, settle in, and wait for the two years to pass.
The playful overhead commotion of monkeys jumping around in the trees made us want to look up instead of hide. And then one of them threw us a gift. As we were trying (unsuccessfully) to capture one of these adorable and very speedy creatures on film, we saw one drop something in our direction.
We all stood in awe, as an empty birds nest floated down and gently landed at our feet.
Maybe we can make a home here after all. A simple light as a feather kind of home like this gift from the monkeys. Home doesn’t have to be so heavy and immobile as we think. Maybe we really do carry our home in our hearts, or our hands, or our minds. We just have to keep them all open.
We can just float down here and allow the beauty of where we are to dominate over the frustrations of where we are.
And we can get up early on a Sunday morning
and go to the Central Market, where the locals shop.
Some of us are doing better at this blending project than others. I may need to work harder to blend than the rest of my family, for obvious reasons. The truth is, I stuck out like a sore thumb at the Central Market. And it is so much harder to spot Elias or Nicole in a crowd here than in Vermont! But I take heart in remembering the the German Expressionists, the third grade artists in my class, and the fresh produce at the market. Colors are most heartfelt when they are vivid and unexpected.
The market was a feast for the eyes and the soul.
It is difficult to describe what happened with the rest of our sunday, especially since I didn’t bring our fancy camera along with us; just our old instamatic with an almost run out battery.
When Nicole’s new Trinidadian friend and her mom offered to take us out for a Sunday drive, we didn’t realize the magic we had in store. We hadn’t quite anticipated we would be driving along in a four wheel drive SUV, top down, sea breeze blowing, exploring the back (and winding and hilly) roads along the shore.
We picked plums (the ripe ones are a bright red and orange), bananas, oregano, sugar apples, coffee (unfortunately it wasn’t ready to drink), sorrel, fresh cashews, limes, guava, and some tropical flowers.
maybe even by the minute.
So the lesson this week was about blending. I don’t know if we passed or failed, but I don’t think we would have opened the classroom door if that monkey hadn’t sent us down those cheat notes hidden in the birds nest.
We’ll see what next week brings.