We heard their piping, excited voices as soon as we walked through the door. My friend Donna and I had planned a Friday morning pause between exercise and errands. After meeting at a downtown coffee shop to talk shop, we’d sandwich in a gallery-hop at Liberty Town Arts Center. And now there were kids. We exchanged glances of amused dismay.
Voices carried in the high-ceilinged old plumbing supply warehouse that housed studios and galleries. We followed the chatter upstairs.
At a table set up in the narrow hall, a painting class was in session. The kids looked up at us and I wondered if they were irritated at our intrusion. The little girls, all about six or seven, smiled bright as newly-minted pennies, then returned to their work.
As we edged past, one girl said to the others, “This is the magic time.” Yes, it is, I wanted to say.
Donna and I wandered through the beehive of studios. Finished paintings were propped against easels. Glazed pots lined shelves.
Jugs of brushes, baskets of half-squeezed oil tubes, and watercolor-daubed palettes covered taboret carts.
Some studios had inviting furniture and thickly-piled rugs. Crystal chandeliers made a classy contrast to open duct work. I longed to move in and play.
Studio paintings seemed at rest, content with the last brushstroke. Slightly musty air settled on my arms. I recognized that mid-August feeling, like riding the Ferris wheel when it pauses at the top and the whole world is spread out below.
Donna glanced at her watch. Time tugged at us.
Art, says Teller of Penn and Teller, is anything we do after the chores are done. My to-do list was depressingly long but I was grateful for this interlude. After steeping myself in paintings and pottery, I could face the hot sun and uninspiring stops along Route 3. Maybe save some of this day for some art-making of my own.
On our way out, we passed the children’s class again. The little girls smiled around lollipops, cheerful as a field of daisies. The whole world stretched out before them; time hung suspended between the taste of cherry and a splash of red paint.
I walked down the steps, remembering when I was forever-seven in always-August and I too made magic all day long.
One girl remarked to the girl sitting across from her, “Don’t you wish you were me?”
Yes, I wanted to say back. I do.