Archive for January, 2014

The Painter of Life

placervilleAfter spending a brief night in Sacramento, California, a town worthy of more of my attention but didn’t get, I ride east to Placerville, California. Placerville is the town where Thomas Kinkade grew up, and since I love his work, I knew I needed to spend some time there.
As with any old, quaint, mountain town, Placerville seems to have had some growing pains. There’s the usual big-box stores on the outskirts of town, but once I get to the heart of town, I find the inspiration that made Mr. Kinkade the “Painter of Light”.

For me, though, this town is the painter of life. My first stop is Hog Wild BBQ. What a fun place this is. It almost looks like a biker place, and I’m not talking biker like I am. But inside, you find a friendly staff and a casual atmosphere that screams “down home cooking.” After a fine meal of pulled-pork, cole slaw, and homemade biscuits, I ride on to the Thomas Kinkade Gallery. OMG, so many beautiful prints. They even have a few original paintings, but, of course, I could not afford those. I buy one small canvas-wrapped print of a cabin by a lake. It so reminded me of those family vacations from years ago.

As I look at each of the paintings, I am instantly drawn into the scene. It doesn’t matter if it is a babbling brook in the mountain or a Christmas party at someone’s home; I am there in my mind. What a talent Mr. Kinkade had, and what a pity he is no longer with us. But his works will continue to bring joy to those of us who saw the value in what he painted – paintings about life, paintings about hope, paintings that bring a smile to your face.

Before leaving the gallery, I overhear another shopper mention something about a quilt store. Well, I just have to know more, so being the quilting nut I am, I interrupt her conversation with the sales clerk and ask where I might find this quilt store. And in true Placerville hospitality, the woman gives me detailed directions. She even tells me to tell the store owner she sent me there, and that I should receive her 10% discount. Of course, I figure the store owner would simply ignore this tidbit of information, but much to my surprise, she offers it to me before I can even think about mentioning it. I find a couple of nice fat quarters that will add some spice to this fine quilt I’ll be making some day, then I’m off to do some window shopping.

After my day of shopping, I make my way to the Eden Vale Inn B&B. It got a 5-star rating from several reviewers, and it so well deserves it. I get a spa treatment my first night, and the next day they help me schedule a wine tour. WOW! What service! It almost makes me want to stay, but I must move on. But know that Placerville painted such a fine picture in my head that I will always remember my stay here. Thank you Mr. Kinkade, for the brilliant paintings you shared with us, and thank you Placerville, for being such friendly and upstanding people. I will remember you always.

And in my real world, I’ve lived in or visited places similar to Placerville. Aspen, Colorado, comes to mind. As polarized as this city can be, it can’t take away the beauty that surrounds this old mining town turned Hollywood hangout. One morning when I was walking to work, I couldn’t help but stand in awe at the sight before me. The sun’s rays were shining on the mountain before me with shades of pinks and oranges blazing. I’d seen this mountainside every morning, but that day it took my breath away. I can only imagine Mr. Kinkade sitting on the edge of the Roaring Fork River and capturing the essence of what God has given to us. It sends a chill down my spine just thinking about all that God has done for us.

And in Colorado Springs, we are graced with Pikes Peak, a magnificent display of God’s artistic side. I wonder how many people ignore this mountain peak even on those mornings when it screams “HEY, LOOK AT ME!” I feel bad for those people who can ignore such paintings of life, for they are missing so much.

So do yourself a favor. Tomorrow morning, when you’re grouchy because the weekend is over and it’s time to go back to work, look around and find one thing that says, “Good morning to you, my precious child. I give you this gift of (fill in the blank).” God’s gifts are everywhere. We just need to take the time to look for them. And as always, let’s keep going the distance as we look for those paintings of life. God bless.

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