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Wednesday
Aug172011

Mrs. Potts was right

The Sun Will Shine, The Rain Will Fall, 9 x 9" acrylic

After this painting was completed I spent considerable time wondering what fantasy land I pulled this smiling woman out of. It’s an early morning, and already she has two loads of laundry on the line, drying in the breeze. Now she’s watering her garden. Where’s the hose? Did she haul that watering can across the yard? She must have had her coffee too. Why would a woman appear so dreamy and content in the midst of all this work?  House and yard work does not make me smile.  Clearly, I had painted such a woman.

 Eventually I realized it was about a contented woman with mind adrift. I recognized her. Anyone near my age of 56 might recall the 1955 movie, Picnic. You remember- Hal (William Holden) is a drifter that arrives in a small Kansas town and meets Madge (Kim Novak). After much angst by all the cast members and a hot steamy dance to Moon Glow they fall in love. My mother was fond of this film, so I have seen it many times.  My sister, Becky, and I had great fun imitating Hal and Madge as we danced across the floor. We were particularly fond of the scene where the younger sister, Millie, could no longer bare the world that circled around Madge. Drunk and humiliated, she cried “Madge is the pretty one. Madge is the pretty one.” Boo hoo. I thought Millie would be fine since she planned on college. And I might point out that no one ever said she wasn’t pretty. She had options. On the other hand, Madge, at age 19 was only beginning to question if she wanted to be something more than pretty. I knew Madge and Hal were destined for bad luck and hard times. Indeed, Madge just wanted someone to love her deeply, but darn if she didn’t take the hard road.

My favorite character in the film is Mrs. Potts, played by Verna Felton. She is neighbor to a house full of frustrated women who blame, hate and wait. Mrs. Potts gives Hal a few odd jobs in her yard in exchange for a little laundry and a meal.  She thought he was a breath of fresh air.  Mrs. Potts believed that we are meant to find happiness and contentment in whatever measure we can. Heading to the bus stop to follow Hal is not my idea of contentment. Still, Mrs. Potts makes me believe that we should listen to our heart and find what we seek. We should pay attention to the shake ups and jolts that bring us new awareness about ourselves and others. Whether you are a Millie, heading to New York to write novels that will shock people right out of their senses, or a Madge who will risk everything for a chance at meaningful love, we all need to step out of the box and make choices.  We should remember the wisdom of Mrs. Potts who said, I think we plan picnics to give ourselves an excuse – to let something thrilling happen. If I stand in the yard and water the flowers a little longer because my mind has drifted back to something crazy I did in my youth, I know that Mrs. Potts was right.  Lucky me.

 

 Picnic is an award winning 1953 play by William Inge. Paul Newman debuted as an actor in the Broadway production. In 1955, the screenplay was completed and filmed.  William Holden, Kim Novak, Susan Strasberg, Cliff Robertson, Arthur O‘Connell and Rosalind Russell were part of the star loaded cast.  Equally significant in the film is the 1934 song, Moonglow made famous by Benny Goodman, In the dance scene (which is the reason everyone watches the movie), the Theme From Picnic which was written to sync with Moonglow plays a starring role.  Check it out. You should probably watch it over Labor Day weekend. Neewollahhh………

 

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