Study: Old Watercolor and Joe
I bought an old watercolor in a primitives shop and brought it home to my in-laws’ on summer vacation.
In it Mrs. Pickering sits on the bank of the Spokane River and fishes with a string. She uses both hands for the string, and each hand performs a different task. The left thumb is wrapped by the line. The right fingers pinch and guide. Her line’s wavy. The jaws set are Mrs. Pickering’s, not yet the white-meated cool biters’ beneath the bottom of the sky.
As I watch people, I make inaccurate guesses about character. Fond of the cranky, saint-worshipping Old Man, for instance, I witness him fling a hard right to the jaw of his son, who journeyed long to visit him. Mrs. Pickering fishes without so much as a pole for weapon. She’s composed, patient. Water music winds around the concourse of reeds and rock. She is absorbed, as the line is by the stream — she is connected.
She doesn’t distance the line. Instead of reeling, she feeds out and feels.
Sober, over a zinnia centerpiece, at breakfast, the Old Man upbraids, homegrown lemon cucumbers on the table, honey in a pot. The whole family, around poached eggs and home-canned relish served on colored plates, leaps up to hold him back.
If there were some way I could have gauged him better . . . Can I suppose principle by fists from now on? One fist or two?
I love him to death, but two-fisted Mrs. Pickering is the better to augur love’s tranquility, to summon philosophy and cool, and to balance thoughtfulness and provender.
Two fists think to provide.