“North Windham Remembered” – Muriel’s Gift
Posted on October 25, 2018
By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com
My sister Muriel had discovered a new talent before her passing – watercolors. She fought a noble fight against the cancer that took her from us. During that time in visits with a friend of hers who studied art in college, Muriel studied watercolors. Muriel displayed a natural talent that impressed everyone who saw her beautiful artwork.
People were taken aback to think they were her first pieces. The flow of the lines, perspective, choice of colors, and subjects. Just prior to her passing, Muriel selected a few of her watercolors to share. She knew of my newsandviewsjb site and said she would be pleased, if at some point, I would share her work here. The timing seems right this year, and specifically today which is the anniversary of her October 25 birthday.
One titled “Pink Roses” was her first ever rendering. It was drawn, as was all of her work, freehand. She used as a subject, a bouquet of flowers given to her by my sister and me. Muriel gave each rendering perfect titles.
Another one Muriel especially cherished, she titled “Marshmallow” – a stuffed animal that had been a gift to Muriel from her youngest daughter Maureen and granddaughter Kathleen. In this rendering, I believe my sister captured Marshmallow’s lighthearted, carefree and soothing spirit.
Natchaug State Forest in Connecticut’s Quiet Corner was a spot where Muriel enjoyed picnicking with the family. It is located along the banks of the Natchaug River, and is not far from Diana’s Pool where my parents often brought all seven of their children over the years, Muriel being the oldest.
As the youngest, I was not part of the earlier years but I listened to many a tale about Diana’s Pool, such as ones about our brother Glen in his daredevil teenage years heading to Diana’s Pool with friends where they all dove from the HIGH trees there. Many moons after bringing the older children to Diana’s Pool, it is where my parents also brought my sister Candy, my niece Debbie and me. With my dad, I would ride the bubbling white rapids at the pool. In fact, it is where he taught me to swim.
Natchaug Forest continued to hold fond memories for Muriel after she married Art. It was with painstaking effort and attention to detail that, from memory, she created the watercolor titled “Natchaug Forest”.
My personal favorite, however, is the rendering featured at the top of this story which Muriel also created from memory. In that Candy and I are the two youngest, Muriel tried to give us as much information as possible about the family’s history.
One story she told was of a special hill in northeastern Connecticut’s North Windham, a small village that had been the family hometown when the ‘older children’ were youngsters.
Every winter she said, all the children in North Windham would await with grand anticipation winter’s snowfalls. Then they scurried over to “the hill” to go sledding. “The hill” was not far from the town center which can be seen in “North Windham Remembered”, showing depictions of the First Congregational Church, the red schoolhouse and our maternal grandparents’ home decorated with a holiday wreath. Notice the little girl dressed in a blue snowsuit – that is my sister Muriel – standing next to her sled.
So it is with bittersweet joy that, as promised, I share this beautiful artwork – this gift Muriel left for us.