Sunday, July 25, 2010

In the neighborhood, over the fence, right next door

I love it when ‘little’ stories are found in unexpected places.  And reading An Eye for Color by Natasha Wing got me thinking about how sometimes these little stories might be found right next door.

In this case, Natasha recounts growing up living next to Josef Albers, a kindly man who, as it turns out, was an important artist who made studying colour his life’s work.  The book is wonderful in showing us exactly how colours can affect each other displayed side-by-side, changing our perception of the colour.  The author’s note tells us that both her own perception of Josef as her neighbour (pretty typical kid point of view) and how as an adult she researched his work and life to discover what an influential artist he had been in America.  I found the section “More About Josef Albers” particularly interesting when it described the process he used to work out his theory of colour which appears very methodical to the point of being scientific.  What an interesting opportunity to discuss the process used by this artist compared to the method used by scientists.

As I got thinking about the whole idea of ‘you never know who your neighbours may be’ idea, I thought of The Goat Lady by Jane Bregoli (636.3 BrG 2004 PIC BK).  Also, a true story about an old woman, not always well thought of by her neighbours as her house was run down and her goats, geese and chickens were a nuisance.  It’s not until Jane Bregoli painted several portraits of Noelie, the Goat Lady, that her neighbours got know her.

Although Noelie was born in 1899 in Quebec, she emigrated in the early 1900s to Dartmouth, Massachusetts where she married and lived on a small farm.  Noelie began raising goats and selling the milk to those who wanted it after benefiting from it when she develops arthritis.  In time, with too many goats, she started giving them to the Heifer Project, an organization that gives livestock to poor people in 125 countries.

No big story here other than that of a long life quietly lived, giving back to the community, and people changing their minds about the ‘bothersome old lady down the road’ given the chance.

Simple, ‘little’ stories.  Simply wonderful.

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