After the Fact: No two snowflakes


My nephew David taught my grandson how to swim. They were “fooling around,” as it was later explained, by the swimming hole at the ranch. Zan, 3 years old at the time, told David he wanted to swim. So David threw him in. And Zan swam for shore like his life depended on it, which, obviously, it did. 

Torrey, my granddaughter, was similarly introduced to water sports in a motel swimming pool. She can muster up a “doggie paddle” adequate to getting from one side of a small “kiddie” pool to the other but cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be compared to Esther Williams (if you’re old enough to have seen any of the dozen or so musical extravaganzas staged in a swimming pool, you’re familiar with the name). Zan, on the other hand, loves water and swims very well indeed.

The school district in my home town had swim lessons for all elementary school kids every year and, in fact, required that we swim the length of the pool at the high school back and forth before graduation. One classmate opted changing schools before his senior year: he’d never learned to swim. Which proved a minor impediment, quickly corrected, to service in the U.S. Navy. I’ve not seen Dr. Claiborne Carson in a number of years but, as he was a professor of history at Stanford University, he may spend an occasional afternoon on a beach and probably still doesn’t love swimming. Just incidentally, Claiborne is also director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute. Nice, well-rounded young man at 72.

I’ve never figured out exactly why proximate experiences will result in vastly different outcomes. My other nephew, Michael, makes biscochitos at Christmas using his Grandma Leger’s recipe. They are light and airy and scrumptious. His aunt uses the same recipe: her biscochitos come out like hockey pucks. That my enchiladas never turned out quite like mom’s is easily explained: there is no “recipe.” It’s one of those “a pinch of this, a smattering of that” things that never produces the same results twice.

Anyone who knits or crochets knows you have to buy yarn/thread sufficient to see a complete project to the end: dye lots are no more consistent than cans of paint. White is not always the same white. There’s China white, all white, Navajo white, cotton white, Lily of the Valley white, Titanium white, Great white (no kidding!) and a dozen more “whites” to choose from and you won’t know the difference until you see great streaks on the living room wall where you’ve gone from one to another.

Of those who were privileged to have taken art classes from the incredibly talented faculty in the art department under Cloyde Snook, no two sculpt, paint, draw or do much of anything else in similar vein. My ceramic pieces were a world apart from those created by Sue Patterson (hers were exquisite whereas my brother used mine for doggie watering bowls). Chris Gosar was creating amazing art in our printmaking class while I struggled to just get a stupid silk screen to line up the same way twice.

The only art instructor who ever managed to teach two artists to paint the same thing, the same way is Bob Ross. Everyone who’s learned to paint with Bob, paints like Bob.  There are thousands of little Bob Rosses painting landscapes that look almost identical to the examples shown on “The Joy of Painting.” Not even cooking programs on TV achieve results like Bob Ross. It’s a good thing most families don’t get to sample the results from any cooking show before the “same” recipe shows up on their dining room table. Thank heaven for Betty Crocker.   

    

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