A Dog of Flanders (Hopefully, with a much happier ending)

Like Danvers, Newburyport is located within spitting distance of the New Hampshire border; assuming the spitter has the strength George Washington would have needed to throw a silver dollar across the Potomac. Unlike Danvers, I don’t need to take a class at North Shore Community College to have an excuse to go back there.

John and I went to Newburyport this past Sunday to meet some friends and at a time in my life when pleasant surprises are always a welcome treat, the seaside town was all too happy to oblige.

Since we arrived a bit early, we decided to take in some of the sights. We walked along the waterfront and got a glimpse of Salisbury from our side of the bridge. SAM_0295 The boardwalk was a busy place and afforded plenty of opportunities to play the “Who’s a tourist” game. Then after taking a glance at the lots of the SAM_0296 Oldies Marketplace, we made our way onto the shopping center, which featured a ton of unique shops and oddities. SAM_0306SAM_0301SAM_0284

It was while we were in this shopping square that I saw the boy who inspired the title of this post. SAM_0304

The boy is not in this picture, but if the reason isn’t obvious, I’ll explain.

The boy couldn’t have been older than my sister. If he was younger than ten, I would have been surprised. But there he sat in the square, with his easel and canvas, and tubes of paint in a little box of to the side. I glanced over his shoulder and saw the beginnings of a painting of the square that blew my mind.

You hear about children who are gifted in art and when we see the end result, many of us are guilty of wrongly thinking that there’s no way a child of such a young age could have produced this work. Even the kids who play their instruments on Church Street in Burlington, Vermont are only playing the songs they learned in school. But I had the privilege of getting to witness this kid, whom I have no doubt is destined for bigger and better things.

I wanted to take a picture of him, but I held back. There was an older male guardian (Maybe his father, maybe not, I don’t assume) sitting beside him and I could have easily asked permission to take a photo of this artist in the making. But whatever my reasoning, I would still be some creepy duded in his thirties taking pictures of kids.

And even if I got permission, what would I do with the photo? I thought of Mollie. Would my parents be okay with some stranger taking her picture and sharing it with the world? I handpick the friends on my Facebook, but I can’t account for the people who follow me on Twitter, or read my blog.

For the reason, I couldn’t bring myself to ask for this child’s photograph. I consider myself fortunate to have seen this moment in time and to know that I am not so jaded and cynical that I can’t appreciate the gift of seeing and knowing that fate has bestowed on me.


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