It always amazes me how unexpected people are. As we go about our daily lives we may see familiar but unknown people going about their own lives. There is a lady at the grocery store who is nearly eighty and runs a small pick-your-own apple orchard in the fall. There was a kid serving up gelato who just had his art work shown at an important gallery in Portland. These are small details, important details of these folks lives that one would never guess just by the job they do to get by.
Today was another of those wow moments for me. There is a back road that I travel to get into Farmington. It is a beautiful road that is sometimes forested and then opens into beautiful vistas of the mountains not too far away. There are gorgeous dairy cows at the Hardy Farm. I do mean gorgeous; healthy, pretty Ayershires grazing on lush green pasture. I always slow down so I do not miss a healthy dose of cow for my drive.
There is a field I drive by where I have seen a rather large fox frolicking, or hunting mice. Either way he is a sight to see and another reason to slow the car down. I never seem to travel at the speed limit when traveling along the road.
There is a guy I see who is often walking along the roadside collecting bottles for redemption. He seems a bit of the Maine old timah. Scraggy beard, dirt stained dickie pants, like my papa used to wear. He always gives the obligatory country wave as you drive by. He does not have a car. His house is pretty run down. But he must work hard at what he occupies himself with because there is always a good woodpile, cut and split, outside his door yard every winter. In August he sells blackberries he's picked from a patch in back of his house. For all the run down facade of the house, he has a lovely patch of tulips every spring.
Well, this morning Tristan and I went for a drive down this road. There was going to be a seven mile yard sale. We got there a little late and missed any good finds, we thought. And then we ended up in the door yard of this man where we found at least 100 paintings by the man. Beautiful landscapes, very impressionistic. Some of the work was more abstract. He had his bio up. He has been painting for over 40 years. He has had his work in several galleries. He also writes poetry and has his poetry published in several chapbooks. He has stopped showing his art in galleries and now sells his paintings from his front yard. He likes to advertise that he is the only artist who sells his work, rent-to-own. He says that he has pretty good luck working this way.
Oh and did I mention, he doesn't have a car.
There are a lot of folks in the backwoods of Maine that are making their living by piecing together odd jobs and their art. It is a lifestyle we have contemplated. Especially every school budget cycle when Mark's job hangs in the balance. Another situation we find ourselves in this year. More than likely he will be hired full time for next school year. But the anxiety is a seasonal aspect to his job we could do without. This is not to say that self-employment doesn't have its own challenges. But we know that if we were to pay off all our debt then we could be free to create the way we want and not necessarily the way we need. Our own version of Possum Living.
Our artist neighbor seemed happy, content and nourished. He lives pretty simply. His art is beautiful! He sells it all summer long and his art is hanging on walls all over the world. "Nice work if you can get it and you can get it if you try...."