Have you heard about the couple who went for a brief vacation and encountered torrential rain five days out of eight?
That’s what happened when my partner and I went for a brief vacation in the Massachusetts Berkshires during one of the rainiest Junes on record. Did that dampen our spirits? Truthfully, yes – but only at first. I had an untypical response: We Are Going To Enjoy Our Trip . . . Weather Or Not!
Luckily the Berkshires have many wonderful sights besides the mountains. We took refuge from the rain in the famed Clark Museum and saw a remarkable Winslow Homer exhibit. Since I’m a writer, I treasure any tidbits that show a link between writers and artists. (Aren’t writers artists, too?) So I was fascinated to see that Homer was not only a great painter, but a persistent marketer. A lot can be learned from reading the copies of his letters stating the terms he demanded and the way he refused to accept lower prices than he thought he deserved, even though he desperately needed the money. It made me think how important it is to respect your work and not give in to accepting fees that are too low.
My partner is an animation-enthusiast, so he talked me into seeing the “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” exhibit at the Normal Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. I went solely to please him, but reaped unexpected rewards. For one thing, the stills and videos drew me back to my childhood. How I loved Snow White and those endearing dwarfs, and how frightened I was of the evil stepmother. Disney said he hadn’t made the film for children, but for the “child within the adult.” And that child in me came to life again for an hour.
I also discovered that while the movie may look like a simple reincarnation of the fairy tale, making it was fraught with constant decisions, just as writing is. For instance, the humorous scenes with the dwarfs were designed to lighten the frightening moments – but how much humor was enough or overkill? For those of us who have trouble naming the characters in our books, it’s encouraging to know that Disney’s staff had many argumentative conferences before agreeing on the dwarf’s names. (Dopey!). Snow White is only seven -years -old in the original story, and the artists originally drew her that age. But Disney vetoed the sketches, insisting that she look old enough to be marriageable when Prince Charming arrives. That final scene was originally a drawn-out romanticized ending but none of us ever saw it, for Disney had the enviable ability to ruthlessly cut any work he believed was detrimental to the film. How hard it is for me to cut even phrases that I cherish! As for those of us who tend to be stopped by critical remarks , how about Disney’s wife warning him not to make the film because “nobody will pay a dime to see a movie about dwarfs”? Let’s all tune out to negative comments!
Venturing onto the spacious grounds of the museum, we took hasty flight from the weather in the building that houses Rockwell’s studio. I admit that my guilt button was activated when I heard the guide say Rockwell never left his work at night without first putting everything neatly away. Thinking of my constantly cluttered desk, I vowed to imitate Rockwell – though now I’m afraid that determination may have washed away in the rain!
Escaping from unusually strong winds another day, we hid in the Berkshire Museum and made an unforgettable discovery – “The Veiled Rebecca.” Since I’ve written a book about the first ten Biblical heroines, I was thrilled to see the statue of a tall classical woman who seemed familiar. How perfectly Italian sculptor Benzoni caught Rebecca’s dignity and modesty as she drew a veil across her face when first encountering her future husband. A veil made of marble that looks incredibly like gossamer threads, through which you glimpse her strong face! Standing enthralled before the woman I speak about to audiences, I realized we can find inspiration no matter where or how or whatever weather. I guess what counts is the weather within us.
BOOKS: “Widow’s Walk” available through iUniverse.com; “Turning Toward Tomorrow” – available through xLibris.com; “Ten Women of Valor” available though CreateSpace.com and Amazon.com. Also Amazon Kindle.