Love the art of Marjorie McDow

I have friends visiting from Dawson City, the kind of people you meet and feel instantly as if you have known them your whole life.
So off we went the other day to Fishermen’s Cove on the Eastern Passage of Nova Scotia, a small historic village on the Atlantic Shore just a short drive from Halifax.
In the village, along with several artisan shops of homemade wares and visual arts, is the Artist’s Cooperative Gallery where we met Marjorie McDow. Marjorie was a war bride, coming to Canada in 1946 with her Canadian soldier husband, Douglas McDow, from Port Williams, a small town I almost can see from the back of my property. Almost.
Marjorie was born in Stockbridge, Hampshire, England, southwest of London, with a population of 592 at last count, one of the smallest towns in the United Kingdom. And though she has led an interesting life, the one fact I found most interesting about her is that she never held a paint brush in her hand until well after retirement.
Now in her 90s, she is an accomplished artist; her work capturing the rich colour and charming quaintness of life in Maritime Canada. While most of us are complaining about loose skin on our necks and arms, aches and pains in the morning that makes walking a bit zombie-like, and always searching for reading glasses, Marjorie was learning to paint.
I was pounding stakes into my garden one afternoon last week to support tarps that will cover my infant plants in hopes they will survive the nasty frost that was headed our way that night. Mother Nature seems to have a nasty side to her.
I have arthritis in my wrist and when I use a hammer now, my grip can’t be trusted and oftentimes the hammer ends up smacking into my thigh. I have what seems like permanent bruising to prove the sad tale.
Usually I grumble and I sometimes curse, but on this day I thought of Marjorie and her detailed paintings that require a steady, persistent hand and decided to quit grumbling. I’m not sure that will prevail but it’s worth a try.
We seem so willing to note the burdens of aging and, I confess, there is a long list to draw from. I often say I miss my eyesight more than I miss my waist.
I especially miss my once-upon-a-time almost flawless memory, where I could recall combinations for high school lockers or phone numbers and birthdays of friends of long ago or the fact that I could recite credit card numbers and driver’s license numbers and health card numbers.
My memory allowed me the aura of being clever, when it was really just a good memory, never to be confused with intelligence. My memory has left for parts unknown and now I’m left wondering why I went to the basement as I stand there trying to find some clue in my sieve-like brain.
Marjorie told me all about her coming to Canada and virtually starting her life from a beginning she had never imagined for herself. Painting has connected her to some far off gene pool from her past, her childhood long left behind.
She had an easy spontaneous laugh and her British accent was still very much in place.
It was my lovely coincidence to meet Marjorie and has me wondering what yet I might learn to do.
wendistewart@live.ca

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