Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The First Mate

I finished this painting last Friday.
In August we spent a week, or almost a week because of Hurricane Irene, on a lake in the Berkshires. It was a very quiet lake with only a few canoes or kayaks gliding in and out of the coves. A man lived in the cabin next to ours. Every couple of hours he would come out of his cabin and get in his canoe with his dog. The dog would move gracefully to the front of the canoe and stand looking straight out with his legs up on the bow like a proud masthead. The man would then paddle him the full length of the lake and into the marshes beyond. One day we were out in our kayaks and paddled close to the dog in the canoe and the man told us his story. He had adopted the dog from a very rough urban kill shelter. The dog had been returned previously by three foster homes because he was aggressive. He had a number of scars from the fights and abuse he had suffered. The man adopted him and brought him to his home on the lake where he could live quietly and unthreatened. The canoe outings soon became the focus of the dog's (and the man's) day. The dog waited at the door of the cabin patiently until the man made a move as if it was time for a paddle. Then he would run to the dock and take his place. A magical relationship had formed for both of them. It was hard to imagine him as an aggressive dog, as we saw him gliding calmly, smoothly, elegantly across the lake, in his canoe with his man paddling soundlessly behind him.