We were walking down “main-street” in Guntersville, AL., my mind working at half-speed as I tried to describe to R., more with hand gestures than words, the treat and “time buyer” I wanted to get for the girls so we could relax while perusing the aisles of the local shops. The candy, that I can describe a bit better now, are those candy-canes without the hook that come in different flavors; they are typically on display in glass jars, each flavor housed in its individual holding cell. I was doing a poor job of communicating; it was hot, we were after snack-time but before lunch, the girls were getting squirrely, and the ship was going to go down if we didn’t change direction.

Wind blows.

Pressure was building with an iceberg nearing, and just then, at the right moment, we passed by a floral shop with a display case window that caught A.’s attention – owls. Not just any owls, but owls painted on canvas, many of them. A. stopped in wonder, she enjoys painting owls and has started using canvas. Her excitement carried us into the shop as I squee-strangled a “near meltdown” H.; she does a good job of keeping up with us – we should probably spend a day at her speed every now-and-again. Immediately upon entering the store I saw it, a display case full of hookless flavored candy-canes, I was besides myself, the owls guided us.

Without breaking any lamps or vases, in our midday stir, we made our way to the candy section. The girls picked out unicorn horn suckers instead of my “vision” and we went to the counter where: R. exchanged money for sugar, I inquired about their paintings, H. nearly knocked over a wobbly crate with a vase on top as she hopped to hand the cashier the coveted colorful confection, and when R.’s transaction was complete she said, in regards to a 4′ x 3′ awkward shaped painting that leaned against the wall towards the back-room seemingly not for sale “Wow, that is really cool.” A. chimed in “Yah, that is” and made her way to the painting. I heard this and walked to the other side of the store
passing by H.’s aping of “Yah, real cool.” in between slurps of unicorn horn, to see a, well, really cool painting.

We were lost in eyes and color when we heard from the back room, “That’s Michael Banks’ work. George Clooney and Brad Pitt like his stuff.” There were seven faces looking at me, none of which were talking, but I was more impressed by the expression(less) mugs I saw than the fact that celebrities like his work, although I understand the reason for stating such a fact.

Our longer than two-minute stare fest in front of the picture warranted a visit from “the voice”. “The voice” and I took a liking to one another, and we spent the next twenty minutes learning about an artist from Guntersville who we knew nothing about, and eventually felt a strong desire to have the piece in our home. It turned out that the woman and her husband are good friends of his, they have quite a few of his paintings, and would like to introduce us someday.

After a walk around the neighborhood, a drive to another store that had a few of his pieces, and discussion between R. and I, we decided to plead a case to our cohorts for a lower cost. Jammed with nervous joy we entered the shop to “discuss” the painting; we went back-and-forth about it’s monetary worth, with squinted eyed smiles, mentions of mutual feelings, an understanding that we would make a deal, and an eventual agreed upon exchange rate for our new wall decoration.

My Papa Sense tells me:

If your child stops and stares at an owl – pay attention. I could get “spacey” about this one, but it’s about the acquisition of a painting. If we had entered the shop in the same way and a good friend from high school that I hadn’t seen in 15 years, but had been trying to reach recently with no luck, was “The voice”, and he had married my cousin that I had never met, I may give the owls a bit more credit. They led us to suckers and something we will, more than likely, have the rest of our lives. Maybe I should give more credit to the owls, especially if we develop a new friendship. Okay, so here is what my papa sense tells me – know what “moves” your kids and take the time to stop and reflect on their passions and interests – it may lead you down paths you never imagined.

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