October may be my favorite month of the year. It brings cool evenings, red and gold leaves, and our annual pilgrimage to Sonoma County for Artrails.
We have been making this sojourn since Ethan was toddling, and as passing years brought more kidlets to our fam, we schlepped them all, each year, to see art. Some artists loved it that we bring our spring-offs, but some were visibly horror stricken. I'd call out "Art hands!" and the youngins would plunge busy hands into pockets or fold their arms snugly across their chests. Still, it was getting a little hard to enjoy the art, what with all of the car squabbles and "she's-touching-me!"s. So this year we farmed the littler pumpkins out and took just Ethan -because he likes art- and Jonah -because he likes breast milk.
It was a feast for the soul, as always.
And we were able to visit with artists we have come to call friends,
some who have known us since Ethan was Jonah's age.
Which brings me to Ethan.
(Pause and sigh with me.)
We got to the studio of a wood turner who immediately took Ethan under his wing, flipped the switch on the lathe, and handed Ethan a sharp tool, earning him the status of Ethan's new best friend. Ethan worked for over 20 minutes, only stopping when we dragged him away, but not before the artist told us about free wood turning lessons given by a master wood turner in our area. I was so excited for Ethan.
On the way back to the van, I had the following conversation with him:
"So, how cool was that?"
"That was AWESOME!"
"Well, what do you think about taking those free lessons in Sac? You should totally do it!"
"What? Why? I though you loved it."
"I did, but I just don't want lessons."
"I don't want someone telling me what to do."
Of course he doesn't. He's Ethan.
And now I understand more about the boy. Scratch that; the young man. He is like his papa. He must figure things out on his own, even if it makes his life hard and complicated and miserable sometimes. When Guy was a kid he refused to let his mom teach him the piano. Instead, he wrestled with the music all alone, and if she tried to help, he would stand up and walk away. I, on the other hand will pick the brains of anyone who will hold still (Nice image, huh?). If I see someone doing something that I want to learn, I fearlessly ask them to teach me. I have learned how to do lawn mower repair, sculpture mold-making, rose bush pruning, and soon we're learning to make cheese, all because I have cat-like curiosity and a frighteningly low level of stranger-danger. Despite our differences, there is no conflict between Guy and I because he's pretty much done learning stuff, old dog and all, and because I have learned not to make suggestions anymore while he is driving.
So, note to self: Ethan must be his own teacher.
Now that I know it, I just have to remember it.
I learned something about me on this trip, too. As we wandered the studios, we saw vast, organized spaces and tiny nooks, some sparse, some not. But the one that really got my creative juices flowing was a teeny-tiny studio in the back of an old building. The ceiling was low, and natural light poured in through the windows from a quiet alleyway. The artist was humble and kind and cheerful. But what I loved most were her storage shelves. They were tightly packed, roughly organized, and dimly lit. I felt like I was in an Indiana Jones movie, surrounded by dusty relics and rusty treasures.
It was purely inspiring. But probably only to me.
I have been in a perpetual fight with the clutter in my studio, thinking that it "should" be different; tidier, more organized, prettier somehow. Buy guess what? I found out that I am not inspired in a space like that.
It turns out that the space I have may just be the perfect one for me.
So, two points for me.
I learned that:
I shouldn't try to teach anything to Ethan
that a crowded and cluttered studio is where I find my muse.
Well, that just cleared my calendar.
I wonder what I will do with my Tuesday?