I got back to Mathews this morning for the first time since leaving for Italy. Waiting for me was a mail carton filled with birthday cards. I am overwhelmed! If I were to answer each, I would not have time to write this letter, let alone to paint. I thank all who sent cards. I have started to read your messages and will continue tonight until I have read each one.
"Remember you do not disturb the animals," I heard a father tell his boys. "You observe and learn and all that you leave behind is your footprints."
If our children grow up with an understanding of how all animals, including ourselves, are interdependent and a part of the whole, they will make informed choices when their turn comes and there will be hope for global conservation. Standing close to endangered species, the urgency of preservation becomes even more real than when spoken of in the classroom or on TV. I am a strong believer in the importance of zoos at this crucial time in the health of our planet.
It is twenty-five years since our first experience of an Iowan welcome and the start of these treasured freindships. Together we have rejoiced in births of children and grandchildren and together we have grieved over lost loved ones.
My mother would never miss an excuse to fly here to join us. The stories of her antics and humor have become legend. I have learned that when being driven to the airport to catch her flight home, Mom invariably inveigled her driver to stop at a hot dog stand. After extracting promises of secrecy, she would order a large dog with mustard and sauerkraut.
Each return to Iowa is a family reunion filled with hugs and words of encouragement. It is no wonder that we call this our second home. Last night Taylor Evenson, about to become a teenager, sat beside her mother Jean, who was a teenager when we first met. Jean is now a board member of the Society, just as her mother, Marlene Ham, had been in the earliest days of its formation. The endurance of these relationships gives me strength. I thank you all. I only wish there had been more time. One evening is not enough. There is much more I wanted to share and now I am thinking of all that went unsaid.
I have been standing at the window while Malcolm transcribes my thoughts. It is a perfect morning as the rising sun floods the countryside with soft golden light. A few moments ago, a rounded shape emerged from the trees, a hot air ballon, that climbed gracefully into the sky. Now there are twenty-nine of them drifting towards us on a gentle, unhurried breeze.
I know the balloons have nothing to do with my being here but they add a magical touch of shape and color to the landscape and are inspiring thoughts for another balloon race painting. Thank you God for a great start to the day.
We fitted in this "event" today so he will be fit to dance the twist at the Richmond Convention next month and the Society's Chapter Leadership Training in Charlottesville in August, where the entertainment theme will set the fifties and sixties.
Next weekend I will be back in Waynesboro for the Musuem and Barn Studio open house. I am looking forward to another three days of being with friends. With all the rain we have been having, the museum and barn grounds are decked in a lush green and looking their best. The forecast is for a weekend of sunshine. Keep your fingers crossed.
Until next week.
The Butterfly House: