Folk Tale

When I was a little girl, I was fascinated with an everyday item that for the most part goes unnoticed — my granny’s living room wall calendar. It hung next to Paw Paw’s chair, right above the end table. It wasn’t just any wall calendar with puppies or kittens or scenic views. This one featured 12 different folk art paintings by artist Linda Nelson Stocks. Every one of those paintings was incredibly detailed and for a child it was fun to find some of the tiny items tucked into the corners. A cat peeking around a corner, a woman hanging laundry up on a hillside, a tiny orchard off in the distance.

My favorite thing to do when the year was over was to take the calendar and sit with it, looking at the pictures and making up stories to go along with the characters in the print. There were always an abundance of them to choose from in the paintings and often I would pick something like a girl walking away from a farmhouse, pail in hand, headed up the hill to fetch water from the well. Looking back, the imagining I did in the middle of these calendars was one of the first steps down a road to writing.

When I moved into my own house and Granny asked me what kind of calendar I’d like for Christmas (she used to always get each grandchild a calendar as a part of their Christmas, but I’m not sure any of the others still get one…leave it to me to cling to tradition), I knew exactly what I wanted. That was quite a few years ago now and every year since I’ve had the Linda Nelson Stocks calendar hanging in my kitchen.

Every year, one of my favorite pages to turn to was the month of October. It always has a number of different things going on in it — children in costume, owls, an occasional bat, and typically a big, bright moon. Oh, and lots and lots of pumpkins.

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You never know what you’re going to find in there!

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I was sad to hear when Linda Nelson Stocks passed away a few years ago. I believe the calendar for 2012 was the last one she completed and this year’s calendar was a collection of paintings used in previous years. Tomorrow, I’ll turn the page to November, my birth month. I looked ahead already and saw that the date on the painting is 1984. It makes me smile.

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