In the fall of 1995, I bought a house on a hill here in Southern Vermont. It was my first home. I was a bachelor. I was excited as I looked forward to turning my house into a home.
On that bright October afternoon, I unlocked the old wooden door and stepped inside. The sun was low and streamed in through the west facing windows. The house was completely empty. There wasn’t a shade, a dish, or even a light bulb in the fridge. I couldn’t wait to make this place my own.
The bare rooms and the absence of any noise overtook me for a few minutes. It suddenly felt like I had just stepped inside the empty shell of a life. The life had gone away and there was no way to ever know the stories that took place between these walls.
That’s when I noticed it. Hanging above the fireplace, nicely framed, was an oil painting. A landscape. A winter scene. A house on a hill. I was charmed. It wasn’t painted by a particularly accomplished artist but it was most definitely my house.
It was not a mistake. Nobody accidently leaves one painting hanging while every other object has been packed up and moved or discarded. This painting came with the house. Judging from the size of the young maple depicted in the front yard, the painting was about twenty years old.
I love original art. The story behind each work adds much to the piece. And together, the art and the story contribute much to turning a house into a home.
My wife and I have a growing art collection that we enjoy everyday. My “House on a Hill” circulates to various walls around our home and sometimes spends a season in storage. That’s okay. That painting doesn’t belong in our collection. It belongs to the house.
One day, when we move on, I’ll leave it hanging above the fireplace. I’ll add a bit of our story too. On the mantel will be an original landscape painted by me. It will be smaller and nicely framed. Perhaps the story will go something like, “And years later, a slightly more accomplished artist painted the house on a hill when the peach trees were young and children had built a snowman in the backyard.”