The Cow that Jumped Over the Moon
The Cow that Jumped Over the Moon... to the Stars
The real estate agent who assisted in the purchase of our home in West Hartford asked how we were adjusting to life in Connecticut. By way of answering her, I thought to invoke the prophet Isaiah, whose prediction will soon be repeated in the approaching season, that "a little child shall lead them." In our case, it's been two, two children, leading us into a new way of life. They found the friends (and their friends found them) whose parents have befriended us. From day one Henry and Robert sailed into their new environment like... well, like trick or treaters approaching a home notorious for its generosity with its store of candy.
One of the signal events in our Connecticut acculturation has been an assignment for which Henry and his brother volunteered, a contest to see who would be painting the seven Mini-Moos for the West Hartford Cow Parade. Henry's idea, painting the heifer with constellations, and naming the baby cow, Cowstellations, appealed to the judges at The Hartford Courant, who picked him from many candidates in the region served by the newspaper. Robert had an equally keen proposal, Moo York, a painting of the skyline of the Big Apple, but one doesn't have to think too hard to guess why the editors at the Courant did not select his design.
Herewith are some photos of Cowstellations' creation, from arrival at our home to its placement in the front window of a gallery on West Hartford's main drag, Farmington Avenue.
Martin Keena is a social studies teacher at Prince Philip (think Native American royalty) Middle School. He has herded the little cow and its designer from delivery to our house to its present perch in a store window. That is, he did most of the heavy lifting. The little cow weighed maybe twenty pounds, but that weight can be a burden if held in one's arms for half an hour.
The heifer arrived pure white. Thanks to the freely given wisdom of experienced cow painter Bill Faude, Cowstellations received the appropriate undercoats and overcoats. Of course, Henry's Mom, illustrator Betsy Carnes, assisted the artist and his helpers, brother Robert and friend, Jeff DeMartino.
The day Henry's Mini-Moo was to be delivered to the Courant office (for photo ops), a side trip was arranged to the lunch room at King Philip M. S., where Cowstellations was displayed on a table. Henry took the applause in stride and answered with aplomb the questions classmates put to him. He explained, in answer to one young woman's curiosity, that his original design, constellations and Milky Way, were sketched onto the cow with the use of an overhead projector.
Cooperative weather was needed to put the finishing coats of shellac on Cowstellations. If that work had been done in the basement, the absence of ventilation could have created a safety and health hazard. The little cow was then put in our empty double garage, the door opened to the outside air, and Indian summer days helped the drying. Touchup drying was done in the kitchen with the assist of a fan.
Pictures were taken, thanks to the assistance of a passing jogger, of Cowstellations with a Santa's hat, surrounded by the Carnes-Howard Family. That photo will be used for our online Christmas greeting.
Saturday, November 15th, artist Henry Carnes made four trips between West Hartford and Mohawk Mountain near Cornwall Bridge. Mom Betsy made the trip six times the same day; Pa and Grandma, four. The rule in our house is "try to do everything." The twins were on a frigid camping trip with their Scout troop, leaving early in the morning. The Mini-Moo celebration, however, had long been scheduled for two o'clock in front of the Toy Chest on Farmington Avenue in West Hartford: hence the frantic driving 50 miles west and east and west and east and west and east and west and east. The seven artists (actually more than seven, since a couple of the cows were co-painted) each received plaques and baseball hats commemorating their achievements.
Sixty plus large cows and the seven Mini-Moos will be auctioned off on Saturday, February 7th, 2004. It will be a silent auction. You can be assured that Cowstellations will not go for a song. An interested grandparent will provide a bid he would be pleased to have some wealthy patron of the arts exceed.