In 1876, van Gogh wasn’t painting yet. He worked as an assistant at a boarding school in Ramsgate, a seaside town in England. On May 31, 1876, he wrote to his brother Theo. There were no drawings to send yet — but after a short introduction, he sent this image in words:
“My dear Theo,
“Bravo on going to Etten on 21 May, so that happily 4 of the 6 were at home. Father wrote to me at length how everything went on the day. Thanks also for your last letter.
“Did I write to you about the storm I watched not long ago? The sea was yellowish, especially close to the shore. On the horizon a streak of light and above it immensely large dark grey clouds, from which one could see the rain coming down in slanting streaks. The wind blew the dust from the little white path among the rocks into the sea and shook the hawthorn bushes in bloom and the wallflowers that grow on the rocks. To the right, fields of young green corn, and in the distance the town which, with its towers, mills, slate roofs, Gothic style houses and the harbour below, between 2 jetties sticking out into the sea, looked like the towns Albert Durer used to etch.”
I’ve come back to reading that several times on recent stormy nights. It helps, beyond making storms seem beautiful — no small feat when I’m soaked.
When he wrote about that storm, Vincent hadn’t found what he wanted to do with his life. Still, he stayed connected (as we’d say today) and kept creating. That is a good reminder amidst the storms of our own lives.
For more fun with words, stop by the Margaret Serious page on Facebook.
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