What Does it Mean to Be Lucky?

Here we are, dust settling around the nation’s Capitol, snow on the ground, my daughter planning her 16-hour drive back to college, and a new surge of coronavirus cases spiking. So much to worry about.

Thinking back to last year at this time, my mother had just died after a fast-moving cancer diagnosis, we were recovering from the holidays after having her memorial service. Life was bleak and I remember thinking, and saying aloud, things can’t be worse than this. But in this moment in time they are worse. My eyes can still prick with tears when I think of my seemingly indomitable mother weakening and shrinking before our eyes. But even then I couldn’t have imagined the perilous times we are living in in 202o or these early days of 2021.

© Sue Schlabach

This morning I came across pictures of a painting called Hilltop Barn that I donated to a benefit auction in September. It’s a piece I painted en plein air last summer: a time before I knew my mom was sick, and a time when finding a four leaf clover was wondrous and special. Lucky.

Hilltop Barn is a white three gabled barn on Rt 12 between Woodstock and Pomfret, Vermont. It has a big sign meticulously hand-lettered with black copperplate type that simply says HILLTOP. I’ve driven past this barn for years and always wanted to paint it, but could never figure out a safe place to set up along the busy road.

© Sue Schlabach

On a day last June I found a place on the verge of Stimets Road that had a view of the barn across a newly plowed field. My feet were ankle deep in clover. After I blocked in my composition, rain started to fall gently. I rigged up an umbrella and persevered. As I daydreamed—as I’m apt to do when painting—I easily discovered six four leaf clovers all around my feet. The rain made me feel a little grumpy and unlucky, but this bounty of clovers turned my mood and my day in an instant, and this painting is the result of that morning.

As I look to the months ahead in 2021 with hopefulness, I feel gratitude to have memories like this one. So much in our country is broken and little acts of kindness and warmth toward our fellow humans may be the best hope we have for healing the chasm that divides us.



Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

January 14, 2021 at 2:16 pm

from Charlie Moyer,
I resonated with your comment about your mother’s death a little over a year ago “and her seeming indomitable spirit”. She was that, for sure. And it is still hard for all your friends to believe as well. Thank you for the nice tribute.

Carolyn was also a close friend as you well know. And while her death came after a long slow slide into the fog of Alzheimer’s, it’s still hard to come to terms with its reality. But we all know that the price of love is remembering, so
we take courage from that.

Do like to receive your postings. Mike’s wife Lorena says “I want to be Sue Schlabach” after every posting that we talk about!

January 14, 2021 at 4:10 pm
– In reply to: cmoyer179

Thank you Charlie. I do take courage from loving and remembering. I have so many good memories of Carolyn and your family. One is of making donuts with her in your kitchen on a day when I didn’t have school. For some reason I don’t remember any of the other kids being there and we had a grand old time. And working in your garden with her at several points. Love to all of you Moyers from all of us Schlabachs. Lorena! You make me blush.

From Workshop of Pine Peddler – connect with naturereply
January 18, 2021 at 6:20 am

Look for Good in Others, Skip social media every few days, we didn’t have in the 60’s, we had music and art. Bloom where you planted. I have been focusing on pinterest and I am designing a skirt I want to make for myself.

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