This painting is now resting on top of our mantle. David and I saw it in the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts, on a trip to Hillsborough several weekends ago, and I fell in love with it then. The name of the artist who created this work is Kimberly Wheaton, and I understood why I loved it when I read her biography that she had worked for the Nature Conservancy. I love this painting, because the moment I saw it, I thought of my sister, Melissa. I wanted it for my home because I want to have objects in my house that remind me of the people that I love the most. The birds in our house are for Melissa. You will see them in places that are designed to be comforting and cozy. That is why there is a bird picture over the mantle, and birds feature prominently in the guest room that we have been working on. The birds remind me that even though Melissa lives far away, she is the single person in the world in whose presence that I have never for a moment felt awkward. She has always been the person of peace in my life.
It is difficult to find art representing Atwater’s Prairie Chickens or set in St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge. Although those would be a bit more specific, any bird reminds me of Melissa. She is the one that can carefully identify most species found in the Southeast.
So yes, the blues and greens of this painting look well-situated as the focal point of our living room. But that isn’t the complete reason that I wanted this painting for that place. I wanted it, because it reminds me of a person who lives far away, but who I want to feel is close.
This recent essay in the New York Times, just reinforces what I already know about my sisters. I don’t know what I would do without them in my life.
Other decorating elements that I chose in part because they remind me of others I love:
Hydrangeas for Grammy – I picked hydrangeas for my wedding bouquet, so they remind me of that too, but the reason I chose them even then is because they reminded me of the beautiful hydrangea bushes at Grammy’s lake house. Placing hydrangeas around reminds me of Grammy’s style and elegance.
Dogs for Mom – When we found a metal dog statute on sale at Pottery Barn, I didn’t just think of Knightley, I thought of my Mom who is the person who taught me how to unconditionally love a dog and how to get that love back in return.
There will be others.