Editor’s note: In anticipation of the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic’s arrival in the Upper Valley, we asked Valley News readers to reflect on the last 12 months and to share their thoughts about what has changed in their lives, what they missed, what they lost and what they may have learned. One question we asked was: “What have you made?” For many who responded, the answer was “Art.”
My husband and I are lucky enough to be able to venture out our back door into some beautiful meadows and woods, which is especially therapeutic in this extraordinary time of the pandemic.
While snowshoeing each day, I use my cellphone camera to capture the views for reference to paint later. Out for a Snowshoe, a 10-inch by 12-inch dry pastel on La Carte sandpaper, was inspired by one of our backwoods jaunts.
I have done several other dry pastels of snow and the woods, and also an acrylic painting featuring a beech tree with its clinging foliage done in gold leaf.
Being a painter is a reward in itself, but the last 12 months have me realizing the beauty of the outdoors in a way that is new for me.
We have lived in our house for 24 years, but we’ve been out more this year than ever. And every time we’ve gone out it’s been a little gift.
Kathy Detzer, of Wilder, is co-owner of Long River Gallery in White River Junction, where the original version of “Out for a Snowshoe” is on display.
Like countless others, I have lost and greatly missed the warmth of personal and community contact, perhaps more than some by not having an online connection: No Skype, no Zoom, no FaceTime or smartphone, and family spread throughout the country.
Writing about experiences during the pandemic lockdown is in itself cathartic. I’ve always had an affinity for the written word, and for sending cards — store-bought cards. But I have not visited a store in months, so I’m limited to my on-hand supply.
Largely missing from that supply are holiday cards, Valentine’s Day and Easter, and special-occasion cards, such as for an anniversary, a landmark birthday, etc.
My least favorite activity is drawing, followed closely by coloring. The thought of putting my artistic “abilities” to the test was almost physically painful. Really!
Last Easter approached. Unfortunately, I found about half a ream of paper in my printer and a 40-plus-year-old eight-pack of Crayola crayons (indicative of how often I’m inclined to use them) down in the cellar, leaving no valid excuse for me to forego sending the multitude of Easter cards that I normally would.
As I whined and moaned to my long-suffering husband, while at the same time trying to motivate myself to get started, he said, “Well, you can draw an egg, can’t you?”
I found that, lo and behold, I could (kind of) draw an egg shape.
But Easter eggs require decoration. Coming up with designs — dots, lines, wavy lines, thick lines — and then choosing colors and making the designs “pretty”? Pure agony!
I really tried my best to do a good job. After too many eggs, I had a brainstorm: Make a cross, a plain wooden cross. Piece of cake, right? Maybe for you. My crosses were, let’s say, simplistic. Alas, in all honesty, a 4-year-old could have done as well.
Eventually all the cards were made and mailed.
My husband’s birthday was next. “What do you want that can be ordered by mail?” I asked. To my great dismay he replied: “I want you to make a homemade card for me. You make them for everyone else.”
Ten minutes of moaning and complaining ensued. Writing an original, personal rhyming verse was the easy part. But I made his card and presented it on his birthday. He feigned (I’m sure) his delight … and said he will keep it forever.
As I write this, it occurred to me that we are now in the season of Lent, with Easter once again approaching. I will not be fully vaccinated (plus two weeks) in time to shop, so once again I must undertake this personal challenge. I will concentrate not on my own discomfort at having to draw and color cards, but with a prayer for each recipient that they may receive my humble offering in good humor and in good health. Amen.
Joanne Collins lives in Wilder.
It took a pandemic to turn me into a photographer. Who would have thought?
I have always been a terrible photographer. The last time I had a camera was in 1968, and when I lost it, I was much relieved. I never understood the physics of it, so the fact that I need no understanding with a phone camera is perfect for me.
I started my pandemic career as a photographer by documenting the arrival and departure of the fall, after an artist friend suggested I should take a picture every few days from the same place. I did, but it got a bit complicated as I kept finding new, great places to photograph.
I have yet to sort the photos on my laptop into a suitable sequence, but it is always good (especially in a pandemic) to have plans. My current project, which I invented myself, is to photograph ponds over the winter, in snow, ice and sun. I started it when I saw the pond around the corner from our house looking like a Georgia O’Keeffe painting. And now I’m expanding to anything that catches my interest: a bird at the feeder upside down: snap. Ice crystals in a pattern on the window: snap.
I see the world differently, and amazingly, some of the photos aren’t at all bad.
Carol Bohmer lives in Etna