Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Something Beautiful

In her picture book Something Beautiful, Sharon Dennis Wyeth celebrates minor miracles of visual and spiritual perspective. After seeing the word "beautiful" on the classroom blackboard, the child looks for something beautiful in her graffiti- and trash-strewn urban neighborhood. Neighbors tell her about their beautiful things; she eats a beautiful sandwich; she sees beautiful broken glass in the dirt. She discovers beauty everywhere once she learns to look.

On her website, Wyeth writes, "I have a special object at home. I call it my something beautiful. It's a pitcher that used to belong to my mother. She gave it to me when I was a child. When I look at this object, it makes me think of my mom and how much she loved me. It also makes me remember growing up in my old neighborhood. My something beautiful object gave me the idea for my picture book Something Beautiful. In the book, everyone has something beautiful in his or her life."

When Eliska and I walked after Christmas, she with her sister's camera and I with mine, we searched out somethings beautiful -- berries on the mailbox, ivy, camellias, rose buds, leaves, a
stained blass butterfly in a triangular window, two gentle dogs, Eliska and her sister Virginia, who joined us. All the things we snapped were beautiful, but for me one is particularly memorable: a water meter cover.

When Eliska and Virginia asked why I was bending over, shooting and shooting, I answered, "The patterns! I love the patterns! Look!" and they did. I pointed out each of the patterns thrown into light and shadow, as were they and I, and we all made a special pattern of concentration.

That was beautiful, too.

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