Daddy’s Painting

by Lydia Bogar

Bubbles of grey and white float over a dozen shades of blue. Beneath this layer of air and temperature is a shabby fishing cabin, abandoned on the shore of a lake and more shades of blue surrounded by a pine forest.

The lake here is deep, born and fed hundreds of years ago by a natural spring.

The weathered dock is grey as expected in this northern part of North America. Wind and snow have raised an army of slivers in the planks. There is no one to walk upon them.

The cabin’s windows no longer keep the rain at bay. The only occupants of the cabin are racoons and their pungent cousins the skunks whose odor is welcomed by the “kits.”  Mother is not far away.  The old, battered and rusted stovepipe, like the cabin itself, is cold and damp, no longer warm or dry.

Once the ice along the shore has melted, spring can come quickly and yet recede again as the fickle weather is known to do in these parts.

Shards of ice still dance on the ripples to the west, cuddled by the tallest hemlocks. The ice will stretch its limbs as the sun sets.

Peepers on the shoreline stand at attention, watching for…something.

Dirty and crusty snow packed on the rocks keeps the snakes covered, waiting perhaps for the return of crickets. The rocks will be covered with lichen and moss before the return of the full moon.

Tadpoles will layer themselves under fallen oak leaves.

The sweet smells of the coming season will waft before the forsythia and laurel even consider their rebirth.

Birds trill from deep in the thorny scrub.

The swamp to the north might house nesting ducks or loons, and perhaps in warmer weather, turtles or snakes, and most definitely frogs.

I’ve not been to this lake or seen this cabin. I am not sure that either are real. How strange that none of the colors have faded. Not the blues, the greys, the browns, not the dancing clouds above my head.

It is my father’s unfinished painting, simple canvas stapled to a frame with ragged edges. No title, name, or date.  A passport into the last month of his life.

BOLLI Matters feature writer and Writers Guild co-chair Lydia Bogar

Our own “Renaissance Woman,” Lydia has done everything from teaching English to doing volunteer emergency service.  She says she “hails from Woostah—educated at BOLLI.”


  1. Not only is this beautifully written, but it is so imaginative and touching. Since I’d skipped over the title of the piece, the fact that you used your father’s painting as a starting point was a delightful surprise.

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