There are people we meet in life that inspire from the beginning.
I recently found myself with some time to spend and explore, I search art in the town I am traveling through and find a little place that is an art cottage. I Uber there, not exactly sure where I will end up, but trust I will have adventure. The drop off point is just a neighborhood, of simple houses. Two women sitting on the porch coffee cups in hand, full of discussion. I gain my bearings and proceed to enter their yard, asking “do you mind if I see your art?” One girl laughs and says, yes, I guess you’re a virgin traveler and I’d be happy to give you a tour”. I enter with curiosity and I realize I have interrupted conversation, which they honestly don’t seem to mind and even when I mention my apologies, and she mentions, “no bother it was time for her to go, we’ve had coffee since eight o’clock this morning.” As I step into this little house, with wood floors and tiny rooms FROgard (Fro) explains to me that this was never meant to be lived in, but it was a overflow house for the almond harvest from across the street. She brings me through the small rooms saying something about some of the artist and they are all women, and that her art is in the kitchen, I think about how the simplest of places bring the most joy. She continued to tell me about the art shows she hosts once a month and teaches “children from ages 5 to 75” throughout the week.
A neighbor lady named Pamela, stops by and makes a minute for greetings and introduces herself, I say hello, and the cottage owner says this is Lori, all the way from… “Texas”, they say in unison. I smile, and she says “I recognize Texas, you have the look of the movie stars from Texas” I don’t really know quite what to say, not sure if that is a compliment or an insult. So, I change the subject to the other works in the house. I can’t quite put my finger on why this interest me other than the art, so I draw out the conversation and spend more time than I had planned to be here in this moment. This beautiful woman who looks like Georgia O’KEEFE, Pamela stopped by to visit three dogs, named, Keiko, J.J. and Einstein, to walk them and talk to them, and so our conversation was only a distraction for her intentions. Fro, mentions that the neighbor lives in an apartment nearby that doesn’t allow pets, that she stopped by one day to ask if she could walk the dogs, and after a while Pamela started tending to some of the plants in the garden.
Fro, leads me through the kitchen to the back door, to unlock the padlock to the back studio, beginning to tell me who she teaches, and the mediums they use. She took a moment to show me the studio and leaves me to my space there in her space. None of this is fancy, yet so very functional. As I wander out to the back of the studio another lady stops by to bring Fro a pizza, still hot, a loaf of baked bread, and some money. Pearl looks at me and says, “Lori from Texas, this is Marsha (who is the grandmother of one of her art students) I get to do what I love, and they bring me food and money, they come walk my dogs and dead head my flowers, what a life I have!” I step into a simple beautiful garden, that she has created with her own hands. It is a community place where those around her love to be a part of the projects going on there. My own forty- five minutes I was there, I felt as welcome as I did at home. Frogard wanted to tell me about every building and what it was in its past and how her passion has created a new life not only to the buildings, but for her, and her neighbors. She had stories about the neighbor house that was run down by renters through the years, that she ended up buying and remodeling to be where she lives. Between the two houses was the garden that was full of life and hope for what once was a rundown neighborhood.
I asked for permission to take photos and she was honored to let me. I took a moment to stop. I realized I was in my comfort zone, in a stranger’s garden. I wanted to capture every flower, every tree that was about to bloom, and every statue that was broken yet still had purpose. I wanted to capture the answer to why am I here and embrace it. What I realized that all these women here at this place was living her life in its imperfect perfection. Giving and taking to their own liking and how doing that together brought a community together. Isn’t that what life should be? Allowing others to give to us because that brings them joy as we give opportunity for others purpose in their own lives? I walked away wanting more time, more of the creative, and more of the giving spirit that was there, and realized that the joy from this place, was my why I was so intrigued. The joy that came from this “art cottage” was the shared projects, whether it was art lessons, or finding new purpose in plantings, paintings, or hosting, and not the exchange of business. My wish for you is to find your own adventure, and the joy that is waiting for you.