Ah the excitement before the show. The rush of anxiety to get all my work done which goes on for weeks. Then the transformation of my studio into a Gallery. I dump my fabric into boxes, (with the fantasy that when I put them back I’ll neatly fold and organize them) fill my drawers with all the rocks and buttons and pins and scraps of paper and fabric, (the ones I can’t get myself to throw away) that litter all the surfaces in my studio. And then it’s empty and I sweep the floor clean. Next, the really fun part of arranging everyone’s work in once studio, now gallery. Even more excitement the morning of our First Bedlam Farm Open House. Doing all the last minute things that we forgot to do. Jon running to town to buy carrots for the donkeys and scones and bagels for the artists. Me putting up last minute labels, moving a tiny pumpkin pincushion from one shelf to another for the last time before the people show up. The anxiety of not knowing, because even when you think you know how things will go, there’s always the chance something unexpected will happen. And the ultimate excitement, when the first people arrive, early of course, but we’re ready, ready enough anyway. Then, the first person to come to into the gallery buys something, a sign of good luck.
And for the next four hours it doesn’t stop. There is a steady stream of people coming through the door, buying potholders and notecards and prints and pincushions. They say the sweetest things, these people, someone brings hankies for me to make into scarves and a friend brings a small glass bottle to put flowers in and place on the window sill. And it’s constant, the good feelings and words, passing from them to me and back to them and around the room to each other. You certainly feel it and almost see it in the air. And for the brief moments when I go outside, it’s the same thing. Generous spirits, open faces, people who don’t know each other, who have never met, pulled together by what they all have in common. That they chose to be here at this moment. The good feeling hovers over the farm like a wispy cloud, not settling, but constantly on the move swirling and dancing. I love it, I’m immersed in it, the whole thing, the people, the energy, the stories, the warmth, the excitement.
And then, it’s over. The people are gone. The artists remove their work form the walls and shelves and the School House Gallery, becomes something between it and the School House Studio. The lawn, empty of parked cars is lawn again. And it’s quiet. And I’m quiet. But the energy lingers. It’s impossible to just stop. I circle around not knowing what to do. We move the chairs back into the house. We eat, something I haven’t done since breakfast (too nervous to eat before the show) and Jon wisely sits to meditate.
But I’m still wound up. I go back outside and visit the donkeys. They were busy all day, greeting people and eating carrots, but I didn’t get to see them. Now I go to them to help me settle, to bring me back to myself, to be able to be quiet. I don’t speak, just stand, and wait for them to come to me. Simon comes first. Even after having attention all day, he still wants to cuddle. Lulu drifts over, keeping her distance, no doubt she can feel my unease. Fanny comes last, gently bumping me with her nose, demanding attention. Their calm, calms me. Their need makes me forget about myself. In a little while I’m ready to go back to the house and meditate, then I’ve come down enough to sit on the porch and read my book. The day, like a dream remembered.