"Want to come see our scenery?" Anna asked me late one evening last summer shortly before the Fourth of July.
She and a friend had been preparing for the neighborhood's Fourth of July play, painting scenery backdrops with poster paints on some white sheets taped to our garage door. They worked past dusk under the outside lights on the garage, and by now it was pretty late.
Since I was already in bed, or about to be, I was tempted to say I'd wait until the morning, but I could tell Anna really wanted me to take a look, so I agreed. The two sheets were now hanging inside our garage for safety overnight.
They were wonderful! Simple colorful shapes denoting a crowd in an arena decorated one sheet. Sprigs of flowers and grasses signified a meadow on the other. I oohed and aahed and was ready to return to bed, until Anna said:
"Now you want to see the garage?" There was something different in her voice and face, a trace of her wry wit, perhaps?
I was a bit puzzled. What more could there be?
I followed her lead and stepped outside the garage. There on the two-car-wide door was an exact, if slightly fainter, imprint of the two sheets! Much to the girls' surprise, while they were painting the sheets, the poster paints had seeped onto the garage door itself. It was all decked out in paint!
"I love it!" I said, or something like that. "Let's leave it there for a while. I think it's cool. I love the colors, and it's much more interesting than anyone else's garage!"
Mostly it reminded me of one of Daniel Pinkwater's delightful children's books, The Big Orange Splot, about Mr. Plumbean, who woke one day to find that a gull had dropped a can of orange paint on his roof. And what at first seemed like a big mess became the inspiration for him to decorate his house and yard in wild colors and designs.
"My house is me and I am it," he declared to his unhappy and oh-so-tidy neighbors. "My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams."
And so the set designs stayed on our garage, fading slightly as summer turned to fall and fall to winter, winter to spring. I've enjoyed telling this story over and over to both the curious and the scornful.
I've been thinking it may be time to scrub off what remains of the poster paint--but only in order to clear the way for another design with fresh colors! Garage art, anyone?