This morning, as I took my daily exercise hiking up and down the hills near my house, the extraordinary thought came to me that I was in the middle of an art museum – one that might not have any boundaries. As implausible as it sounds, the scenes I was seeing as I walked seemed to have the beauty of the best paintings I’ve seen in New York and London. Wherever I looked were settings that could be set in frames to shine forth from the walls of museums. There was the luster of streetlights on surrounding trees, the glow of lamps in a few windows, shadows shaking in the occasional winds, and over all, the coming of the first sunlight above the trees. It sounds fanciful, but anywhere I looked I could have framed my fingers to make a scene that, to me, seemed to rival Rembrandt’s and Van Gogh’s. I carried that thought through my morning classes, and I soon realized, with the same kind of wonder, that my classroom is an extension of the museum I was in this morning. It’s hard to describe, but every student seemed to be dressed for a painter’s portrait, and every assortment of poses and movements and spoken words seemed ready to be framed. The way kids turned their heads to listen, their slight movements in chairs, their shifting expressions as the lesson proceeded, the play of light on faces and arms, even the flutter of leaves outside the windows – all seemed made for the handsomest paintings. It made me a little giddy, actually – sort of rushed-off-my-feet by commonplace, everyday, museum-type magnificence.
© 2010 Hamilton Salsich