Fall Colors Part 2

The place in Rutland was new and shiny, unlike his old house, which had been built in 1847. As they drove into the circular driveway, a woman in a plaid suit greeted him and Abagail. She was a friendly woman who said, “Good morning Mr. Stockwell.” Will was impressed by the personal touch, though he said nothing. Once inside, Louise Rowel showed Will his room before giving another tour of the entire facility.

Will’s room was tidy, with furniture that was in good shape. A nice-looking comforter was on his bed, but Will thought the place looked more like a hotel than a home. He had similar thoughts as he walked around the rest of the facility. What had he done? Had he moved from his crafted farmhouse to a cookie-cutter Marriott? 

After an hour, Abagail left, and Will watched TV in his room before walking toward the dining room. He had to pass through a small room designated for cocktails to reach it. Residents brought their bottles and stored them at the bar. As Will was thinking about getting his bottle the next day, he heard, Well, Cary Grant, or is it Jimmy Stewart or Clark Gable? Looking around, he saw a table full of women smiling at him. One beckoned him to sit down and asked him what he was drinking.

Bourbon on the rocks, please, said Will. The feistiest of the group, Samantha Higgins, said, 

You, sir, are in good luck. My daughter lives in rural Kentucky and brings me bottles of locally-made bourbon you can’t buy in the store.

Will Stockwell was even more impressed when he tasted the smooth, tasty liquid. Well, he thought. I am off to a good start with movie star status and custom-made bourbon! The women invited him to sit with them in the dining room, and he accepted with some trepidation. 

Will ordered a mixed salad and then steak, cooked medium rare, and mashed potatoes with string beans. The food was surprisingly tasty, and he thought it had been a while since he had eaten such a well-balanced meal. 

The women were talkers, but Will didn’t mind since he was trying to get the lay of the land in this new place. Sue came from Rockport, Maine, while Jenny and Ronnie were from Whitefield, New Hampshire. Were they a lively group? Though he was enjoying their company, Will wasn’t used to so much continuous talk and laughter. Finally, he could extricate himself from the setting, and he walked to his room.

Some men at breakfast asked him to play cards around 10:00 AM the following day. In his time, Will had been a decent poker player, so he wasn’t worried about embarrassing himself at the game.

Life picked up at the facility from there. On a trip to Maine, the group toured the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland and later drove to the Olsen House in Cushing, thirteen miles away. The group found the graves of Christina Olsen and Andrew Wyeth not far from the Olsen Home, which was now a museum of sorts. Will could imagine Christina crawling on the grass as Andrew Wyeth painted her years ago.

When he returned home, Will gravitated toward the arts and crafts room. It was as if an alien force had taken him over as he began to sketch. One drawing led to another, which finally led to watercolor paintings. Will Stockwell laughed at himself, having gone from farmer to painter in a short time.

His paintings of rural life eventually hung on the walls of his daughter, Abagail, and then her children. At his funeral years later, his daughter spoke these words:

Father, my father,
Man of the meadows,
And falling water,
Painter of places you loved.
Friend to all, animal and man,
You may rest now and live on
Through your art.

The end