by Jane Green
Special to the Farm Forum
I hate to admit it, but I have become an afternoon cat napper. So much so, that if you come for a visit to our home around two o’clock on a sunny afternoon, you will find me dozing on the couch.
Actually, I’m no longer ashamed of my cat naps because scientific research relates that short twenty minute naps refresh the mind and the body. I have come to agree with the scientific world on this matter. Read on to find out why.
Power nap discoveries
My cat naps or what I prefer to call them — my power naps — have had some powerful mind expanding results for me. Take for instance when I awoke one recent hot July afternoon and experienced a powerful vision of greatness.
For there, across the room from me, hanging on our living room wall was a Harvey Dunn painting. And, for some unknown reason, the painting seemed to have come to life with all the blooming things, parts, woman, dog, clouds — the stuff painted on the canvas was moving and it seemed lifelike! Good grief in the morning, was I losing it or what?
This particular masterpiece painting — actually, it’s just a print — had been gracing our living room wall for many, many years, and yet I had never felt its powerful message. Waking from my power nap with my eyelids only half opened, the painting was moving and flowing, and I immediately realized the real story behind the painting.
Holy buckets! I just reread that last paragraph and it scared me. I sounded like some sort of connoisseur of the art world. Excuse me for pretending to be something I am not, but in lay man’s terms, I got the point of what the artist was trying to reveal, and it was my power nap that made this happen.
Woman At The Pump
This masterpiece painting, “Woman At The Pump” by Harvey Dunn, has always been one of my favorites. In fact, it was the first Harvey Dunn print that I ever purchased. I’ve always liked it, but my power nap showed me why.
Through half opened eyes, I believe that I realized and comprehended the painting’s significance. This is what I experienced…
It was looking at the action of the prairie woman vigorously pumping the precious water from the soil that inspired me most. This was not the usual old red pump jack, but a hand built blue colored contraption that required some extra muscle to operate. I could feel the ache in her arms as she pumped that water into the old dented milk pail for the house, or more likely she pumped the water in order to do her afternoon chicken chores.
I could also feel the hot sun on her back as the ever-present pup dog waited patiently for his afternoon cool drink. The wind must have been blowing fairly strong that day because the canine’s ears were pointed straight back and the sky was full of fleeting skimmer clouds.
I could almost feel that hot summer wind blowing in her face and pressing her red skirt tightly against her legs. I could definitely feel the steel set determination of her jaw line to complete this task even though she was hot and tired and worn out. She had even stripped down to her sleeveless camisole top. Oh, my goodness.
And then to me, the most revealing aspect of the painting was the set of her eyes and her head. They were both pointed downward intently focused on filling the pail to the very top and not spilling a drop. Water and trips to the pump were never wasted. Her pail was almost full. Her job was almost complete. Hallelujah!
Hand pumping chore
Quite a story from this painting, wouldn’t you say? In my book, Harvey Dunn certainly captured a true-to-life South Dakota scene for posterity in his glorious master piece, “Woman At The Pump.”
Now, I have to admit something. I maybe got a little carried away in my story telling, but in my half-awake state, I actually, without a doubt, felt the movement of the painting. And I felt this way because I had experienced it. I so remember having to hand pump water for our 4-H calves, I so remember the dented silver milk pail and the power of the South Dakota winds, and of course I remember the intense heat of a South Dakota summer day.
But most of all, I remember the importance of water. When rainfall was scarce, the old well was our only source of water because we needed water for ourselves, our livestock, and our crops. We pumped the water without complaint; just happy to have a water source.
This painting’s message was about water and its absolute necessity for survival on the prairies. Times have not changed in South Dakota. Water is still our number one natural resource for survival. Many thanks to our native son, Harvey Dunn, for creating this true-to-life masterpiece for the ages and documenting the real story.
The next time you are in Brookings, why not stop in at the South Dakota Art Museum on the SDSU campus and personally experience the viewing of the original masterpiece, “Woman At The Pump,” in all its glory. It definitely will be worth your time.