The Picture Hanging On The Wall

Today I got our painting back, a Volschenk print, valueless and faded, but clean with a new backing. I’m absolutely stoked. It’s now on the wall where I can see it from every angle. Why? because there’s a story behind it. Let me share it with you. I promise I’ll be brief.

Having a father who was a construction boilermaker, we moved around a lot, not easy on us, always having to start new schools and friendships etc. I remember once helping to plant a little fir tree in the backyard of one of the houses we lived in and asking my mother whether we would see it “grow big” or not. She said we would, but a year later I found myself gazing at it through the back window of our car as we left for yet another home in another town. I never stopped wondering about that tree. Some years ago I went back to the house to see whether it was there. Sadly, it was not. I came away a little jilted.

Old and faded, valueless, but precious

But back to the painting. When you move around like that something in you yearns for stability. In a strange way that’s precisely what this painting did for me. It always went with us, and somehow whenever it was hung on the new wall, I felt at home and rooted again. It seemed to be the one thing that never changed. Hanging it and taking it down became a kind of ritual signifying “being at home” and “moving on.”

I was never quite sure why it had that affect on me. Later the realization dawned that the mountain in the background must have had something to do with it. Nothing is more stable and firm than a mountain.

After my mother died the painting came to me, and because of the profession I had chosen, it travelled on with me to numerous other homes. The ritual continued to play itself out.

Today we’re established and rooted in our own home without ever having to move again. The picture has been hung and my intention is never to take it down again. So now I gaze at it, the two of us at rest, and I remember a little fir tree I never saw “grow big;”

In my mind’s eye I also see the many homes we lived in and the many faces of friends made and left, and I look out across to the sea, and then at the picture on the wall, and I say to myself, “We’re home.” It’s a good feeling.

I wonder if there’s anything in your home that tells a story, or is in the process of creating its own story? I’d love to hear about it.


About Don

I love life. Sometimes it makes sense, other times not. Discerning its underlying patterns and beauty always provides great reward and meaning and is a passion I ineptly follow. I feel deeply attached to nature and love the sea with its distinct moods and colour and find walking along its beaches wonderfully inspiring. Writing, sketching and photography is a sheer joy for me and the blog is one of the places I am able to express these pursuits.
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12 Responses to The Picture Hanging On The Wall

  1. Vince says:

    Very moving, many thanks for sharing that with us, and “Yes” I do beleive we all have things we cling onto, one day I will share mine with you.


  2. Don Scrooby says:

    Thanks Vince. Look forward to that day.


  3. Terry Rens says:

    Hi Don, such a lovely learning for me. We never moved much after we left the Transvaal, except into different homes, never a different town, I even found that unsettling, so I completely get it. i suppose for me its been the diningroom table my dad altered to fit into our ‘new’ homes. I have passed it onto my daughter now and it does give me joy to see it in her home. Thanks for the memory jog!


    • Don Scrooby says:

      Sounds marvellous Terry. I’m always amazed at the kind of things we attach memories to. I think sometimes people are too quick to say, “Aaaagh! it’s just earthly things, get rid of it, man.” Something sad about this sort of attitude – insensitive.


  4. I identify with the constant moving because, during our married life, the longest we were in one place was nine years. The story about the painting is deeply significant because we, as people, like to have something that makes us feel rooted. Some precious childhood items, that did that for me, have since been lost. It reminded me of the need to look at other symbols that are signs of being rooted, even though we’re exploring another move next year. Perhaps I must find something that will do for me what the painting does for you when we move to Canada for a period of time. Thanks for sharing the story with us.


    • Don Scrooby says:

      Thinking of you both as you consider your move next year. I’m sure it’s not easy. Would be good to take hold of something. Is it a move to Canada that you are considering?


  5. Diane Van Der Merwe says:

    I did not seem to have a problem with moving around a lot….I suppose i found it all a little exciting, but I do have a precious jewellery box that Dad bought Mom for their first wedding anniversary. I keep it on my bedside table. It is reminder, every morning, of who I am and where I come from. Just a fleeting moment of memories of days gone by.


  6. Doreen says:

    The other cool thing about the painting is that there are full grown fir trees in the painting. How awesome is that I guess at the end you did see the fir tree all grown up. 🙂



  7. Katy says:

    Your story reminds me of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, starting with Little House on the Prairie. Her family too moved around,her dad was a real pioneer. Because they travelled in a wagon very little went with them from place to place but when the china lady ornament was carefully unwrapped and put in the place of honour she knew she was :”home” Isn,t it nice word? Home, homely, home cooked, home bound. Thanks for sharing your memories with us.


    • Don Scrooby says:

      You know, Katy, I’ve forgotten about that. We used to watch the episodes with the kids and I can remember that. Thanks for stoking that memory and you’re right, there is no word like “home.”


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