The Pettitfiles

Art, stories and understanding.

Art, I had once thought was based on the education of understanding patterns.   To fully understand it, you need to reflect on what you see, and that, is the beauty of art, the impressions we all see differently looking over the same objects. It’s interpreted through your eyes, casting a wave of spells over your brain sending electrodes throughout your body, casting down through, and between your toes to rise back up again leaving the vocal chords numb of beauty and effort, words cannot do it justice, so we sit in silence and drink with our eyes.

Time however, was never our strength, always behind the eight ball making ends meet, running to events, trade shows, side jobs and family obligations. I was young and knew I was different. I wanted to stop and watch tall evergreens sway and tip each other, like there was current in the tree allowing it to bend against its will, but its constructed to do so. Thick maple leaves cast off from their homes and become inanimate objects stuck in the swirl and birds float in the wind. My day dreaming would be interrupted by my father telling me to stop being lazy and get back to work and not kill time, but my mind had gone in the breeze, tall trees swaying to frame the Cascade mountains, thick cumulous gathered at the their shoulders and ebbed towards the forest, and us.

Softness, wasn’t something we had every day. There was love, without question, but the jelly squishiness of it was over ridden by the sheer need of what had to get done. My parents started a family early, a couple years after they got their own license. I believe they didn’t get to fully find themselves without the anchor of little ones running around, but they are responsible and here we are. Of course grandparents do what they do, and that is when my world slowed down, they would take me to places and asked me what I saw and how that made me feel, down to the big city of Seattle, wharfs, Pikes Place, Museums and of course the ocean. My small world became full of old planes, flying fish, highways and storied buildings. I believe that is why I returned to them in the end of their life, to ease what I could, but age and Alzheimer’s took the majority of their best parts, leaving sections of beauty that would occasional return.

My first memory is our house in Marrysville. We had a half door leading to the back yard that led to a willow tree, I was small enough to walk under the first half of it, everyone else except my younger sister had to open the top half, I thought it was made just for me and the dog. Out to the large base of the comfy willow, there was a stream down below the bank and I would lay here for hours with our dog Boots, a large, loyal yellow lab mix, dumber than the bottom part of that door but a good hound. I remember thinking that life is grand, a soft tree, a river bank, a pillow and friend in the shape of a dog, everything was clean. I remember walking with my brother to his bus stop but didn’t understand where he had to go for hours on end.

We become reflective and educated with time. I was young and thought I was tough, but I also knew things where beautiful, and that life could mirror a poem, a baseline chord we live our days to. It was quite the contrast from my family as I wrote early poems in the tall grasses of our backyard as my brother would disappear with his friends and driver’s license, my sister the youngest would be with her friends and I was fine being alone, but I never felt alone. lost in an emotion I didn’t understand. I grew up in a greenhouse and barn, one gave life and beauty to flowers my father would inexplicable grow from pin point seeds and one that would ease pain the law deemed illegal.

Two gutter connected greenhouses stretched towards our barn and equaled work, I took a young cucumber plant under my wing and it grew to give us a nice yield, till one day I saw bugs around it and knowing my father used a spay to kill them, I picked up a green spray paint can, and begun to kill the bugs, my plant as well as paint the plastic walls of the greenhouse. It was one of the only times I fucked up that he laughed at it, I was sad I killed the plant and thought for sure my dad’s skilled and callused hands could certainly fix it, but he took the plant out of the pot, tossed it into the compost, inspected the soil and recycled it to another pot, the circle of life. Pigs, chickens, flighty horses and cows. They’re all beautiful to watch and move, their strength and fears, trust and tempers, sitting on half eaten wooden fencing my world bent around the edges of alders and huckleberry bushes, the burn pit and tractor.

We always respected strength, fighting strength, lifting strength and effort. I was young and small and didn’t have much but I never quit, my father used to forcefully stop my brother and I from doing sit-ups, he thought anything over two hundred we could hurt ourselves. I began to realize in our mobile home that my strength was in the foresight, knowing beauty and the totality doesn’t belong to the wealthy, that art is all around and it’s given to those who can see and feel what is created. I was stuck recently by a passage from a lost mentor.

“But that is the way it was for me-a young romantic beginning an involvement and commitment to life and writing which-when it reached its most enlarged and present state-rests on the basic belief that what seems most beautiful in all I see about me is what men and women can create with their hands, issuing from their hearts and heads.”

We were beautifully rough, hands that created things from raw material, hands that protected our last name and sister. My father probably doesn’t think he’s an artist and that too is the beauty of him, and I believe that is my role within this bunch, to be a mirror for them to see themselves as I do. The fisherman, how lucky was I to experience years with him on a boat built by artisans in 1929, built and tailored for punishment, effort, work, payment and family. Allowing souls to experience the meaning of dedication, belief and power of currents, mountains and of course, wind. He too an artist of life, in the knowing there is no ceiling, and we can be whoever we choose.

Creating things with your hands, issuing from the hearts and heads.  Eventually someday I hope to be a good story teller, that in some way my life will bend to allow the grandeur, defeat and effort of all I see and have done.  That I can do justice in the beauty of the place I was raised, in the silent pride of our family, that my spelling and punctuation will someday match the staccato and rhyme in my head and I too will issue it from my heart and head and create something beautiful with my hands in a different way than I was once taught

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