As a young lad, I remember that Mom and Dad had a print of Jean-Francois Millet’s “The Gleaners” on the wall over their bed.

We had a tiny house with virtually no artwork but this painting was there for years and I often looked at it wondering how bad would life be, to be a Gleaner.  After the wheat was harvested in the fields of France the gleaners would walk through the field bent over and picking up the occasional head of wheat and bits of straw.

I have no idea where that print came from.  I asked mother once and while she knew it, she could not remember why they had it, although Aunt Grace did think it came from the farm.   Apparently my grandmother Grace Webster had some sophistication despite being a farmer’s wife.

I was reminded of this painting today as I was working in the yard.  I trimmed the cedar hedge with the electric trimmer to try and bring it back into shape control.  The problem is that the hedge is behind our flower bed so you cannot rake up the clippings (little ends of cedar branches).  So I spent an hour, bent over, gleaning the cuttings into a bag.

Oh my aching back.

As I was working away, the image of the painting The Gleaners was in my mind. Strange how an image can come to you at times like this.