First Published in the Santa Barbara News-Press
Many months ago, I fell in love with a painting at the Primavera Art Gallery.
It was thousands of dollars above my budget, but I snapped a photo of it anyway. The painting was of a small box shaped house that reminded me of a lighthouse. Since a young girl, I have always loved lighthouses. The idea that even in stormy weather a sailor could rely on a flashing light though the fog and the sound of mariner’s bell to alert them of home or rocky waters always calmed my restlessness. This house had its porch light on, another symbol to me of arriving home safely. Soon after I saw the painting, it started to show up in my visions during meditations. I would find myself walking up the steps into the house and then either upstairs or out the back door into mystical worlds or places to study.
One morning during my meditation, I found myself out the back door of the house. I had long thin legs. Effortlessly, I took flight. I was a white crane flying over the waves at the edge of the water. I could smell and feel the spray of the ocean and sense the wind touching every muscle and feather as I was lifted higher above the water. I flew through sunlight and puffy clouds in a world more vivid than this one, wishing it would never end. In a moment, I found myself landing in the arms of a man. I could feel his strong biceps supporting my bird body against his chest. He stroked my head and my back kindly. I pushed my head up against his cheek and wondered if this is how birds feel when they find themselves safe with a human friend. I looked down at my crane feet and they morphed into webbed ones. Was I now a white duck or a goose? My conscience rose from the depth of my heart. I did not want to trick this man into believing I was solely a bird. I flew from his arms and turned around using my will to turn me back into a woman. I felt the ocean fog around me and a white dress drape on my body. I wondered, “Do I now look like the ghost of woman from an old movie?”
Then I was aware of my breath, the blanket around me, and my chihuahua stirring to the rising sun out the bedroom window.
I went back to the gallery that day to visit the painting. It was thousands of dollars cheaper but still thousands more than I could spend. Months went by. Primavera closed. I wrote the artist telling her how much I loved her painting and made her an offer. The next day she accepted. I was thrilled. We became friendly via email both lovers of art and animals. A few days, later she writes, “I made a big mistake! I thought the painting was sent back… Much to my surprise it wasn’t. I had two pieces of the lighthouses and I thought the other one was sold. I feel really bad! I am sending you another painting of a bird at no cost. This is called “Crane Wife,” referring to one of my favorite folk tales of a Japanese wife who is a shape-shifter. The painting was hanging at the American Embassy in Kuwait for a couple of years, having been selected to be part of the Art in Embassy program.”
I was stunned. The house was a lighthouse after all. Aw, it’s gone. Did I read the email correctly? Is she gifting me a painting? Of a woman who shape-shifts into a crane? Words cannot express my sense of awe and gratitude.
The “Crane Wife” is hanging by my front door. She stands just outside a door at the water’s edge with the darkness behind her and light upon her chest. When I gaze at her, I am reminded of all that is safe and wonderful in this miraculous world.
“Crane Wife” and the painting “Before Point No Point” was painted by my new friend Treacy Ziegler. www.treacyzieglerfineart.com instagram @treacyziegler