My town played host to a rather famous—some might say infamous1—visitor last night.
Now, he’s a capricious2 sort—seems he rather enjoys keeping people guessing and has a tendency to disappear for months at a time and then suddenly reappear at some of the most inopportune3 moments—but this time his arrival caught very few townspeople by surprise. After all he’d already paid us a brief visit a couple of nights ago on what I suppose you might consider a publicity stop. Truth be told, I didn’t actually see him during this earlier visit, but I knew he’d passed through because he left his calling card on the windshields of cars all over town.
Last night, however, was no publicity stop. This time he pulled out all the stops and gave the entire town a taste of his unique skills. And it was quite the show.
Granted, not everyone appreciates his artistry. His detractors4—who might very well outnumber his admirers—consider him a nuisance at his best, and downright destructive at his worst. There’s no denying they present a good case—after all he has been known to wreak a little havoc from time to time—but I can’t help but admire his artistry. I mean, this fellow has talent on a grand scale.
I’m sure you’ve heard of him and, unless you live in the far-flung reaches of the world that seldom or never serve as stopping points on his widespread peregrinations5, you’ve seen his work. His monochromatic6 paintings—executed in broad, bold strokes embellished by delicate whorls and filigrees—are impossible to mistake for the work of another. And, lest there be any doubt as to their origin, he signs each piece with a flourish, Jack Frost.
1Infamous. Probably not the kind of fame you were hoping to attain. Unless you want to join the ranks of such individuals as Jack the Ripper, Benedict Arnold, or Darth Vader.
2Capricious. One of my children’s favorite books when they were young was a collection of Native American tales featuring Coyote, The Trickster. Ah, Coyote. Inevitably motivated by unpredictable, ever-changing whims. Not the sort to rely upon, although you might say you can rely on him to be unreliable. But even that’s no guarantee because every once in a while he catches you off guard by committing an act of surprising heroism. If ever there was a character that embodies the meaning of capricious, Old Man Coyote would be the one.
3Inopportune. Kids are gone for the evening. Hooray! Candles are flickering. Ooh la la, romance is in the air. Champagne is chilled and ready to pour. Two bottles, mind you. The doorbell rings. What the…? Now, if ever there was an inopportune time for a surprise visit from your mother-in-law, this would be it.
4Detractor. Remember that snotty girl on the bus who called you names and made fun of your clothes? Well, she just might have claimed the dubious honor of being your very first detractor.
5Peregrination. This word measures a perfect 10 on my spiff-o-meter. Yes, it’s that magnificent. Weighing in at a hefty 13 characters, it’s hard to ignore it when it muscles its way into a sentence. Yet this seemingly ponderous word has a lighter side. It loves long, meandering walks on the beach at sunset or ambling strolls amongst the bright wildflowers in a sun-washed meadow. You see, for peregrination it’s all about the journey, not the destination.
6Monochromatic. And today’s color is: red. Yes, red. Such a versatile color, too, it’s as comfortable making an appearance in blushing rose as it is hitting the runways in shocking crimson. What, you want to talk about blue? Absolutely not. Everyone knows red is all the rage and blue is just so yesterday's rags. Remember, there’s more to monochromatic than just shades of grey.