My bride refers to herself as “Mama” to our Labrador Retriever, Griffin. It’s always struck me as a bit goofy, preferring, I suppose, to think of myself as my dog’s master. Though anyone familiar with our little family of three would hastily remind me that I might have that backwards, as Griffin clearly rules the proverbial Rosslyn roost.
I kid Susan that her childfree stance belies latent maternal instincts which she channels into her canine progeny. (N.B. While you might initially balk at this, detecting an underhanded jab, you can rest assured that Susan is quite comfortable with — even proud of — her “Dog Mama” status. And any implication that I’m married to a metaphorical dog, well, let me just suggest that the quick glimpse of my dazzling damsel in the video below will handily refute any concerns. After eleven years she still knocks my socks off!)
So where were we?
Despite endlessly kidding Susan for mothering Griffin (Perhaps over-mothering?), I actually find it endearing. And our almond-eyed-butterscotch-furred best friend is thoroughly content with the arrangement.
“Hello, my love bug. Mama missed you,” Susan greets Griffin when he races up to meet her at the end of the day. His tail wags excitedly and he stretches his head upward, offering a nice slobbery kiss. “How did Mama get such a drooly boy?” she asks playfully as she wipes off her nose and cheek.
This year, I decided it was time to accept my bride’s dog mother instinct. No, I decided it was time to embrace it with a surprise gift or two. And the perfect gift? A symbol of our family, our home.
Each winter Essex residents celebrate the holidays early during a weekend-long event called Christmas in Essex. It was this tradition which connected me to Mary Wade, a folk artist who lives in Willsboro but runs a seasonal gallery in Essex each summer. She creates painted wooden models, silhouettes and paintings of historic buildings in Essex that are collected by her fans all around the world.
Although I’d visited her shop in the past, it wasn’t until last December when Mrs. Wade was offering her artwork for sale during the Christmas in Essex event that we discussed Rosslyn inspired artwork. I spotted a painting of Rosslyn’s boathouse adorning a wooden box (see image) and asked her if she could make a birdhouse modeled on the same structure.
“I think so,” she said, considering. “I could do that.”
“What about a painting of Rosslyn?”
“Oh, sure. I’ve done that plenty of times, you know, all the Merchant Row houses.”
As soon as my bride was safely out of earshot, we began to conspire. Could she undertake both projects this winter? She could. And much more!
Last week I met her at home where she unveiled these whimsical renditions of Rosslyn and Rosslyn’s boathouse. The small painted silhouettes of the the boathouse were an extra, unanticipated when we made our plan last December. She got the idea while creating the birdhouse, and she liked it so much that she decided to make almost a dozen to share with her other collectors.
I suspected that the birdhouse would prove too valuable to submit it to its intended use, and Susan promptly confirmed my suspicions.
“What a perfect centerpiece!” she exclaimed arranging the miniature copy of Rosslyn’s boathouse in the center of our deck table to test out her theory. It was a great idea.
The beautiful painting of Rosslyn will likely be hung in the morning room where a growing collection of artist renderings of the quirky Eastlake inspired dockhouse adorn the walls. And for now, the silhouetted boathouse is in the screen porch. Until I convince her that it would be fun to have in the boathouse…