Warsaw As Muse

My father-in-law is a painter. And his house is his muse.

He paints it, he photographs it, he walks around it and enjoys looking at it.

“Look at the light,” he says. “Now is the best time.”

He likes the evenings, when the light is just right and turns everything golden: the water, the trees, the people.

He is 87 now and doesn’t get around as much as before. But we still walk down to the pond. Chase walks stoop-shouldered, at a painful angle, as if the ground is pulling him down. He says, “In the morning, I’m straight as an arrow!”

Laughs.

He paints pictures of his house in summer, fall, winter and spring. He paints the yellow daffodils at the gate. He paints the white columns at the back. He paints his own sculpture of a kneeling woman that he propped on top of a tree stump. In his paintings, everything is swirled: the trees, the houses, the hills. The world looks like it’s about to capsize.

Everything is repeating angles, movement and color. And I love that.

The one above is called “Goodbye Professor Decker.” He painted it after he retired from teaching.

He doesn’t paint as much now as he did before. But when we visit on the weekends, I walk around the house and look at the paintings, stacks of them, everywhere: in the closets, in the hall, in the bedrooms.

I look at the photographs that he’s taken over the years: the house in summer, winter and spring; the purple and white iris that spring up around the walnut tree.

On our last visit, he pointed at the white iris and said, “Those remind me of Annette.” His ex-wife. “Nurses. And their white skirts.”

That’s what she became: a nurse. To gain her independence. And herself. And when she did, she left him and the house behind.

Maybe that’s why I’m writing about Warsaw too. Because every part of it has a story. And I find it endlessly fascinating.

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