Vincent is outside today, which I hope is as much of a relief to him as it is to me.
He is standing near the door to his small, untidy… well, hovel, really… looking down at the orchard, and he is painting.
I dry my hands, chapped and sore from too much washing – always washing – and go to stand beside him, watching him closely as he mixes together the thick oil paints that are giving his canvas such a wild, wavering look. The trees he is painting are alive with movement – there is a breeze which pulls my hair from its bun and flings his hat from his head. Laughing, I chase and retrieve it – the spring sunshine is strong today and he needs to protect his skin, and his poor mind.
A few quick brush strokes and Monsieur Jacques is added to the scene, slightly stooped as he digs over the thick, dark earth of the orchard. My mouth waters as I anticipate the autumn with all its fruitfulness, the smell of apples sprinkled with cinnamon and topped with golden crumbs, baking in a warm oven. Then my heart sinks slightly as I think of the washing up such delights bring, and that still awaiting me now, and I reach out, touching the rough linen of Vincent’s blue shirt sleeve, and bid him “adieu”. He turns to me with that so sad look of his and rewards my presence with a slow smile, then returns to his painting – it has brought him out of doors on this perfect spring day, but, oh, if only he could sell one!
(Inspired by Vincent van Gogh’s View of Arles, Flowering Orchards, painted in spring 1889)
Debra Williams is a proofreader and writer who also enjoys telling her short stories and poems in a group of storytellers, believing that some work needs to be read aloud. She recently won first prize in Anxiety UK’s poetry competition with Sitting with Sparrowhawks (https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/get-involved/the-power-of-poetry/), based on her summer spent observing a nest of these precious raptors. Her non-fiction writing has been published in outlets such as Lancashire Life. As well as writing both fiction and factual pieces, Debra has a blog that focuses on the natural world of the Liverpool area (https://wordsanddeeds.co.uk/blog/), including her allotment and the Mersey estuary.