When I lived in Minneapolis, about the only travel I could afford, was “in time.” Life was deliciously full of work and friends and art, but every once in a while, when the walls started closing in, my friend Deb and I would decide it was time to take a trip. To Cottagewood. It was only about 15 minutes in distance, but years back in time. Founded in 1895, tucked gently on the shores of Lake Minnetonka, this quiet community, survived a tornado, and the chipping away of progress. It still had the same General Store, selling gasoline, coffee and candy.
We would arrive on a Saturday summer morning, buy a coffee, walk past the Texaco pump, and stroll through the gardens, or along the lake. People still put flags on porches, rested baby dolls on chairs in the yard, leaned bicycles against railings and left pails in the sand on the beach. There was so much life, in all of this quiet. It felt sacred and secure. Loving. Safe. Enduring. Without time. There was no need for hurry, or worry. It was built to stroll. In all of this calm, I found an energy to create. I painted the old Texaco pump. I painted the mailboxes, and inserted my name, so I could be a part of it all. Just as my grandmother had made quilts, inserting our old clothes, so we would be a part of the story.
I love to travel. This is how we find the stories of the world, and create a story of our own. Sometimes when I say that, people respond, “well, I have no money, no time, I can’t go anywhere…” My response is this. When I was a child, taking care of myself during summer vacation, I would pack a lunch in a brown paper bag, fill my book bag, my water bottle, and walk into the farmer’s golden field behind our house. I brought back wild stories to tell my dolls and the neighbor girls. I traveled. When I was older, with no money (but not poor) I would travel to Cottagewood on a quiet summer morning, and travel, not only in space, but in time, in my heart, and in my soul.
I was lucky enough that my art brought me to new places. Chicago. New York. Then my heart brought me even farther, to France, and all around the world.
The stories my grandmother made still lie around our house in Aix en Provence. The painting of the mailboxes greets people at our front door. The gas pump still leans in our yellow room. I took a stroll around our yard this morning and knew that in all this calm, there would be a space to create. A painting. A love. A life.