Thursday, September 17, 2009
My first memory of the Ox Cart takes place from the driver's seat of a black 1986 Jeep Cherokee pick up -- the one I used to drive when I had my own gardening business, Amy Gray Gardens. I was probably hauling landscape debris to the corner of town where I could dump it on the huge pile of leaves and branches every other landscaper had visited that morning. It was the point of rest in my day, to climb in the dusty old truck, spider webs in my hair. In dirt crusted jeans I'd roll down the windows and drive the tarped load of pruned branches or fallen leaves away from the pristine garden behind me. On the way I would crank the local NPR station KLCC in Eugene and hear local news or Fresh Tracks, the three hours of new music the station played daily. Van Gogh's Ox Cart would be donated to the Portland Art Museum from a nice family in Roseburg Oregon, the announcer said. Roseburg, just an hour south on the I-5 from Eugene, where the Van Gogh had been for all these years, Roseburg of all places. And in that moment the world didn't seem so small and history didn't seem so far away, even if I did recognize all the other landscapers at the debris station, even if I did wave to the same recognizable road workers who'd been paving Hwy 99 for the last two weeks. I was in that instant connected to Van Gogh, just one hour north of the Ox Cart on the old I-5.