Over the last couple days, in the moments when I’ve managed to turn away from the news out of Boston, I’ve been reading Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. The novel is set in the American West in the late 19th-century. The dramatic frontier landscapes and the sense of a new society being built have been a refreshing escape from the degenerate events of the week. This description, of the main character’s two year-old daughter, born in a stone cabin in an empty Idaho valley, describes the way that Caroline and I often feel about Wally:
How she came among us on our crude frontier I shall never know. It is that double rainbow she was born under. She comes from a better world than this, and she has moments of remembering it. She speaks with the fairies. Sometimes I sit and watch her playing quietly in my workroom when the other two are at their lessons, and I see pass over her sweet little face reflections of some pure life she lives within herself. She conducts conversations with invisible playmates, sings songs that she makes up herself, draws pictures with a confidence and imagination that her mother, at least thinks utterly remarkable for a three-year-old. There is no doubt which of my children will be the artist of the family. When she looks up at me and laughs it is as if someone had thrown open the windows of a stuffy house and let the clean sea air rush in. And the sea air is making her bloom.
Although I should clarify that we are, as of now, still uncertain about Wally’s merits as an artist.