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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Art (01/18/07)

TITLE: Amish Country
By joe hodson


Amish Country

“It is beautiful for landscape painting.”

Our art teacher drove as he described the place where we were going. David’s forearms were thick, like a lumberjack, and his hands looked strong and able formed around the steering wheel. These hands I noticed the first day of my adult continuing education art class. They would so effortlessly use paint to transform blank sheets of paper into wheat fields, trees, snow-capped mountains, rivers, or Canadian geese flying into the fleeting sunset.

As he turned to talk to Sylvia sitting quietly in the passenger seat, his glasses lenses turned into round, white discs from the reflection of the early sunlight. Sylvia giggled and said something back in a thick but soft Czechoslovakian accent. Her face flushed as she searched for the right English words to use.

Six months ago Sylvia had come to the United States from the Czech Republic. She was a nanny, and watched the children of the parents whose house she stayed. There she was treated like a foreign servant. She was never asked to join the family in anything other than work duties. At night she was forced to go to her bedroom early by her inability to bear the coldness of the family’s attitude towards her.

David picks up Sylvia for art class since she does not have a driver’s license. Early this morning they met the rest of us in a McDonald’s parking lot before we got into the David’s Jeep.

“How far is Amish Country, again?” I called out from the back seat. Our class usually met on Thursday evenings in the back room of a little, French bakery. The bakery smelled like old wood and coffee beans. Everyone who worked there spoke French, and the French girls wore white handkerchiefs on their heads. Whenever I would order my favorite blueberry soufflé, they would smile and say, “Merci.”

“Two hours,” answered Vicki. She had lost her husband last year. Since then, she had taken up painting to try to cover over the loneliness drumming inside of her. Today she was happy. She smiled a lot in her white bucket hat decorated in little, yellow daises.

For the moment I was happy, too. For the moment, there was peace in my restless soul. I watched out the window at the sun darting in and out from behind the trees. Only a few months ago something inside of me broke. Something within wanted to know the Creator of all that I have painted. But I did not yet know how know Him. Last week a friend gave me a Bible to read. I think I’ll take a look at it when I get home.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Donna Powers 01/26/07
You have a lot of ideas in this piece. Some of your descriptive phrases are very nice. With a little polishing, this could be an excellent piece... as it is, I enjoyed it very much.
terri tiffany01/29/07
What I liked - wonderful descriptive language throughout - you gave us a nice hint at some interesting characters making us want to know more -What I might change - watch some change of tenses here and there and maybe work on your ending somewhat - I really think you are very talented and with just a little stretching and tweaking - this will be even better. You do have a wonderful way with words! Keep at it!
Marilyn Schnepp 03/08/07
Much to muse on in this delightful story, and the ride was enjoyable with the beautiful descriptions of God's world. (Spacing was much more reader friendly this time...) Great potential here - as you hold the reader's interest to the end. Nice job.