pinecone

The Return of Boo Radley

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In “To Kill A Mockingbird”, Boo Radley left gifts for Jem and Scout in the knothole of an old, oak tree.  He wanted the children to be aware of his presence, to understand that he cared for them, and to know that he was watching out for them.

Now, I am going to tell you a story that will explain why I call this painting “The Return of Boo Radley”.

Once upon a time I lived in a one-bedroom apartment with my dog, Gunther. In the center of the complex, there was a large grassy area surrounding a sandbox where the kids could play.  Scattered on the ground, I would find some of the largest and most beautiful pinecones I had ever seen. Whenever I took Gunther for a walk, I would grab a couple and bring them back to my apartment to marvel over.

One day, I noticed a little girl playing alone in the sandbox with a large pile of pinecones. I smiled to myself. This child and I shared a love of pinecones. Later, I noticed a pile of pinecones on the open patio of one of the nearby apartments. I knew that was where the little girl lived.

That night, in a frenzy of inspiration, I took one of the pinecones from my collection and painted it. I took my time, sitting at my easel – intent on turning the pinecone into something magical. At about 3am, I grabbed my dog and took a walk over to the girl’s apartment. I left the painted pinecone on the top of her pile and went back home.

The next morning, I walked my dog past the apartment again – and the pinecone was gone.

This is where I got really creative.

To make a long story short, the pinecones got much more elaborate. I bought glitter, rhinestones, small plastic animals, ribbons and other assorted materials to incorporate into my pinecone masterpieces.  Every week or so, I would leave one on top of the pile of pinecones at the little girl’s apartment. The next morning, it was gone.

My story ends anticlimactically… I moved away.

I never knew the girl’s name, and she will never know mine.

We never met.

She will never know where those pinecones came from.

Like Boo Radley – I wanted to show her that I cared about her. I wanted her to know that I shared her love of pinecones.. and that something as simple as that is enough to join two lives together…

But most of all, I wanted her to experience a beautiful mystery in her life.