My wonderful neighbor S. gave me a Hanukkah gift I have come to count on with glee –– Dana Heacock’s Abacus Calendar. The Calendar consists of twelve 11″x14″ posters that brighten my desk area and delight me each and every month. I wrote about Dana’s beautiful work once before in fact, having learned the lesson that you can’t make up for lost morning glories.
As Hanukkah was “early” this year, I’ve had to wait nearly a month to put up the first of Heacock’s whimsy. January kicks off with a green, yes green, cat. Her pink ears face the viewer as if listening for every New Year thought and wish. She crouches on a block of black, dark as Queen Vicky’s mourning dress.
Whatever possessed Ms. Heacock to paint her cat green? Why not blue? Or purple? Whatever her reason, the green works. “Welcome the out-of-the-ordinary,” this verdant feline says to me. “Stay alert for unusual,” it purrs. “And why not green?” it insists. Green is the color of spring, of promise, of money. Green is the color of the heart chakra, the source of love and compassion, hurt and understanding.
2009 was a killer of a year. Its rings of consequence will be felt for decades to come. But maybe, if I can take the metaphor once step further, this green cat of promise atop the black says, “The new year has succeeded the old . Look ahead! Look ahead!” And so I do.
Dana Heacock ‘s Abacus Calendars have become a staple in my office. A yearly gift from my neighbor S. (of Monday’s goldfinch fame) these colorful lithographs feature images drawn from Heacock’s favorite haunts in Maine. I enjoy the small ritual of putting up a new poster each month — exchanging tabby cats for coffee mugs and sunflowers for pumpkins. But last month I slipped up. I was gone the first two weeks in April and returned home to a very sick dog. March’s image — a trio of three plush ducks — stayed up until tax day. April’s poster — a weathered shingle cottage in Kennebunkport — hung around into May as McKenzie’s days ebbed one by one. By the time I drew out May’s page I regretted having tarried. I’d spent two extra weeks with the cottage (it’s an OK image, not a favorite) when I could have been staring into the beautiful periwinkle faces of a morning glory vine in full flower. The image might well have brightened a moment or two during those last weeks with our beloved dog. Come June first I debated: leave up the morning glories to enjoy a bit longer or get in synch with summer? Heacock’s June image — unlaced sneakers, their rubber toes white as beach sand — was a bold contrast to the gentleness of May’s. I put up the sneakers. When I look up from my desk I know what day it is (a detail that seems to slip consistently from my alleged mind). But more importantly the sneakers serve as a daily reminder of an eternal truth: You can’t make up for lost morning glories.