Thursday, December 20, 2007

When All Becomes Painting

One of the things I do love about this first dark month of cold weather is going to bed and being under the comforter. There's a special kind of magic, probably from childhood, in curling up in a cold dark room, under a pile of blankets or quilts and getting warm.

Before going to bed each night I have been reading a few pages of a beautifully illustrated book about Hundertwasser. I bought it in Nashville, in July, and stashed it. About a month ago it seemed like the right time to finally unwrap it and I have been savoring it since. I turn only two or three pages and each new gorgeously colored illustration feeds me. I go to bed hugging myself with glee at the brilliant reds, yellows, and glowing light of his watercolors, and the spontaneous personal place they depict.

Then as I lie in bed, getting warm in the lush heap of covers, my mind turns everything into paintings. Even the position of my arms and legs is a painting, and, with my eyes shut, I change the composition by moving them. I dream of things I saw in my day and they also turn into paintings. And then I really dream, and winter dreams are so vivid I can taste the salt and feel the wet cool of the spray on my face as I struggle to keep the boat upright as we pass over brilliant, fantastic reefs. Or I continue a travel dream, in Provence, with an uncle I have never met, and one of his friends, who keeps getting us lost and thus into all sorts of unexpected and deliciously real places behind the tourist lines.

Even with all the stress at work, and the stress of the holidays, everyone is friendly in my December dreams this year, and even the French speak English.

Actually the photo above is of the afghan my Nana made me when I was a teenager - one of the earliest installments of her deal with God that she couldn't go until she'd made one for every grandchild (it worked). In the fall we cover the brilliant blue all-weather fleece with mismatched blankets, so we can be convertible on each side. Nana's afghan goes on my side.

In the deeper winter weather I get the comforter down from the high shelf in our bedroom closet, where it's been hibernating since spring. It's creamy white, and has a round labyrinth quilted pattern on it and deep lacy ruffles on the sides and bottom edge. It was a wedding present from my in-laws, for our first bed, a queen size, and it doesn't quite fit on our new king size bed. But that just makes it cozier somehow, as we avoid the cold edge (which it doesn't really cover) and curl up in the warm middle, to dream and wake and feel the other nearby, and drift off again until another red winter dawn.

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