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The Chill

Mindy Lu's picture

The Chill

I was walking along the street, my left hand laboriously holding the umbrella, my right hand checking the map in my cell phone, almost frozen in the cold wind. It was snowing heavily, which colored the city white. However, I was in no mood to enjoy the scenery of snow because when I finally arrived at the museum, I was out of energy and could not stop shivering.

Although the chill made me upset, when I went into The Barnes Foundation, I was not only surprised but also delighted—it was delicately decorated, and, the most important, warm! However, when I saw a painting on the wall (which I posted with this essay), I felt another kind of chill again, which was completely different from the chill I just suffered outside the museum. Thus, I became curious and sat down to observe it for at least half an hour.

The chill outside was caused by the bad weather, while the chill of the painting was, as far as I concerned, come from the loneliness. The painting is grey with a boat staying in the center. The boat looks quite, and I believe it is not moving because there is no crew in the boat and also no trail on the fiver surface behind the boat. It seems to be the winter, the tree having no fresh green, the man wearing thick coat and the river looking cold. Because the main hue of the painting is grey, the man in black becomes the focus of the painting, hanging his head and staying with the cheerless environment—endless river without clear destination, lifeless trees standing beside, quite river with regular ripple and the old wooden boat without crews and quants.

I prefer the chill of the snowy days, because this painting and its chill made me feel not only cold, but also depressive and chocking. Why is the man sitting in the boat alone? What is the he doing in the boat? Why does he stop rowing? Where is he going? Why does he wear all black? ……I came up with so many questions but I could not find any answers with my observation, because the painting is blurry—it only draw the main body and color of the objects without clear details. Though, it is vivid, especially the reflection on the surface of the river with slight waves. About fifteen minutes past, I started to imagine and try to create a complete story of the painting to answer my questions.

The man, who have lost his wife for several years, live in the countryside alone because his son got a job in a city which is far away from here. This is a winter afternoon and going to rain soon. Today is also his wife’s birthday. He cleans up the old wooden boat that he bought as a birthday gift to his wife many years ago. After rowing for a while, he stopped, reaching the place where he usually had a picnic with his family. He bends his head and closes his eyes, recalling the memory of that spring when the trees bloomed beautifully. He vaguely heard his son’s laughter and his wife’s whisper. But when he open his eyes, everything turn into grey again, no flowers and no laughter, he sitting alone with the quite river. He feels cold and then tightly wraps his black coat around him ……

I stopped imagining because the story was too cheerless to be continued. My imagination was so real with the help of the vivid painting that I felt strong sadness from it. I stood up and almost escape the museum. When I rushed into the crowd and heard the noise of the traffic, the loneliness disappeared and I felt better. I realized that life was so lovely because I was never alone. The chill seemed to become less annoying. And I began to enjoy walking on the snow and left a trail of footprints behind me.

Later, I met Mark and my friends in Chinatown and we brought various Chinese foods together to the little party in Anne’s warm house. Everybody enjoyed themselves and shared their experience of their trips. The happy atmosphere let me forget the sad story, temporarily.