So many wonderful things have happened for me this year. I think that 2007 has been one of the best years of my life.
One of the great things to happen to me this year is reconnecting with my old friend, Clyde Jones. In the mid-nineties, I would go out to the Critter Crossing to visit Clyde at least once a week. I learned about Clyde through Craven, who studied Clyde during a UNC folklore class. He said, "Charlotte, you just gotta meet this guy." So, I went out there with only the knowledge that this guy built animals out of wood using a chainsaw. Whatever. Big Deal. Yawn.
But wow. Before you even reach his yard, you can see his work from down the street. And then when you finally reach his yard, it's just mind-blowing. There are critters and paintings everywhere. I was instantly charmed by his work. I squealed when I saw his animals. The passion in his artwork could immediately be felt upon entering his yard. The critters were cut by chainsaw from logs and pieced together with huge nails. The heads were made of cedar and decorated with paint, glitter, flowers and other found objects. Each horse, dog, cow, mosquito, giraffe, person, elephant, fish, deer, and cat had individual personality. I found myself wandering around his yard petting each one and talking to them.
Eventually, one time when I was out visiting, Clyde came outside to meet me. We had a great time talking and soon became really good friends. During our weekly visits, I'd talk to him about how I wanted to move away or how I was having a hard time with my parents or stuff going on at work, and he would always offer simple but wonderful advice. And he would discuss his artwork with me. He would discuss how he was trying to paint new animals or how he was out trying to find new cedar stumps. I was honored that he sought my opinion on his work.
During that time, we even made several critters together. We made a HUGE giraffe for my porch. We made painting for my parents. We made little critters which are still scattered all over my house. I even made some artwork for him to hang on his porch. My favorite subject to paint was Clyde and his dog, Speck. But once I moved to Durham and started working in Raleigh, our visits became less frequent. And when I did make it out to Bynum, it seemed that he was never at home. He's a busy artist.
But this summer, when I was regularly out tubing on the Haw, I started visiting Clyde all over again. And we just picked up where we left off. And I've been out to visit him about once a month ever since. Yesterday afternoon, I went over to Clyde's for a visit and to pick up an angel that he was supposed to be making for my for my Christmas decorations. He had been working on the Nativity for his yard, but was having trouble with the Baby Jesus. He instructed me to drive by the Bynum Church down the street from him to see a finished Nativity.
This is Clyde's Baby Jesus from the Bynum Church Nativity:
So, Clyde ended up giving me three angels for Christmas. Two for me and one for my mom and dad. While listening to my favorite radio show of the year, Bill Burton's Best of the Year Show, I wrapped my angels in lights. It's better than a Christmas tree:
I was going to get a real Christmas tree for the first time ever. (The thought of that just seems so grown-up.) But since I was out of town last weekend and I am swamped this weekend, I decided to put off getting a Christmas tree for another year. I think that the angels look better than a tree anyway. Now I just need to wrap some presents to scatter at their feet.