I bet that soft-spoken PBS artist could have soothed a crying baby in his day (I believe he died a while back). You remember him…the white guy with the brownish Afro who would simplistically and effortlessly craft impressive landscape paintings before our eyes in thirty minutes.
How he could make one stroke or sponge blob look like sixty-two intricate leaves still amazes me. But it was his voice that I was trying to mimic this morning as my baby boy cried. I was always intrigued as to how he could speak to his paintings so softly and gently and we never once thought he was gay. He just seemed like a tenderhearted man.
I’m not as tender as my wife nor do I have a bosom. This morning as my boy cried in my swaying arms I wanted to be more female-like and console him as effectively as my wife. It sounds stupid but I raised my voice a couple of octaves (no one else was around) and started speaking tenderly to him.
It was then that I thought of that artist guy. So I started speaking like him to my son, hoping it would shut the little bugger up. “There, isn’t that pretty? We’ll just brush in this sweet, cute shrub on the valley floor. Every shrub needs a friend; we’ll give this one a rock…oh, that’s nice. They’ll get along wonderfully. Let’s swing that glistening, happy little creek over here to the shrub and the rock. Isn’t that beautiful?”
Then things got weird. I became repetitive, surreal and mantra-like for a couple of minutes, saying insincerely, “It’s a shrub…and a rock…and a happy little creek. It’s a shrub…and a rock…and a happy little creek. It’s a shrub…and a rock…and a happy little creek. It’s a shrub…” all the while patting my little guy on the back as I attempted successfully to keep him from crying.
Then, something told me that I sounded more like Sally Fields’ sadistic and demented maternal figure in the movie Sybil (“...and the spoons and the spoons and the people…”) so I stopped. It was about this time that my little guy erupted into a cry.
I don’t know if my stupid little song freaked him out or the fact that I stopped singing it. I’ll never know; I’m not doing that again.
M. G. Sparks