"When we're old and near the end, we'll go home and start again."
My husband and I traveled to Tanzania last summer with our two teenage children. We thought that this would be our last trip together before our daughter heads off for college. It became a trip that deeply resonated with all four of us in varying ways.
We were all taken by the Baobab tree with its enormous trunk and wide spreading branches. Our guide Sumawe stopped along the road one day so we could get closer to these unusual trees. In a rare moment of freedom from the safari truck that would be our protective cage from elephants and large cats, we photographed the trees. Sumawe insisted on taking a photo of Tim and I kissing. This painting was born from that moment. As I was painting it I became connected to its symbolic nature.
We had traveled far to come to this place. We have traveled far in our 30+ years of marriage and like this tree we grow towards the sun. Our marriage continues to mend itself from damage by bad weather and deep wounds. We are strong and hope to live a long life providing sustenance and shelter.
Untitled for now 72" x 72" (oil on canvas)
The Legend of the Upside Down Tree
"A very, very long time ago, say some African legends, the first baobab sprouted beside a small lake. As it grew taller and looked about it spied other trees, noting their colorful flowers, straight and handsome trunks, and large leaves. Then one day the wind died away leaving the water smooth as a mirror, and the tree finally got to see itself. The reflected image shocked it to its root hairs. Its own flowers lacked bright color, its leaves were tiny, it was grossly fat, and its bark resembled the wrinkled hide of an old elephant.
In a strongly worded invocation to the creator, the baobab complained about the bad deal it’d been given. This impertinence had no effect: Following a hasty reconsideration, the deity felt fully satisfied. Relishing the fact that some organisms were purposefully less than perfect, the creator demanded to know whether the baobab found the hippopotamus beautiful, or the hyena’s cry pleasant-and then retired in a huff behind the clouds. But back on earth the barrel-chested whiner neither stopped peering at its reflection nor raising its voice in protest. Finally, an exasperated creator returned from the sky, seized the ingrate by the trunk, yanked it from the ground, turned it over, and replanted it upside down. And from that day since, the baobab has been unable to see its reflection or make complaint; for thousands of years it has worked strictly in silence, paying off its ancient transgression by doing good deeds for people. All across the African continent some variation on this story is told to explain why this species is so unusual and yet so helpful."
Taken with grateful acknowledgement from ECO Products