The Clarity of Living in Black and White

The Vermont landscape umber and white. Evergreens bending from the weight of snow. The contrast stark. The simplicity striking. Few distractions of color. Storms one and two have heavily coated the earth. Storm number three is pending. Sparkling and twinkling. Our world, quiet in black and white.

Sledding and tulip charcoal sketches. A weekend spent with our granddaughter Belle. Her mom and dad too.

An upright player piano inherited from my parents. Purchased by my paternal grandmother so many years ago. Lifetimes have passed. Fully restored it resides in our family room. Mahogany wood. A deep reddish-brown finish. It houses generations of memories. We have moved this piano as infrequently as possible as its weight is unforgiving…

I would go to my grandmother’s home at lunchtime or when my father could steal a few minutes away from running our family grocery business. He rarely spared a moment even to eat.  My grandmother would have his homemade pasta ready. Steaming hot. Fragrant smells of homemade bread and sauce would greet you as the backdoor cracked open. My dad would take his place at the kitchen table while my grandmother would be busy at her stove. I would immediately run from the kitchen past my grandmother’s chair where she knitted near a heating vent to the front room where the piano stood tall. I would wildly play as only a very young child would. Imagining my greatness. A perfect composition. My grandmother would call out to me and reward me with her sweet kind words telling me how beautiful my playing was…

How many children had pressed the same worn keys? The smooth ivory has aged in shades of warmth. Certainly, my sister and brother had played as zealously as I. Our many cousins too. Nieces and nephews. Neighborhood children. My own children included and now our granddaughter…

Belle stood at the piano hardly 2 ½ years old. Her head just cleared the keys. Uninhibitedly she played an original composition while melodically singing her accompanying song. Like my grandmother and her great great grandmother, I am certain of her “genius…”


              “The one thing I need to leave behind is good memories.” – Michael Landon



Author: Elizabeth Ricketson

A graduate of Providence College with a BA in English, Elizabeth Ricketson has always had a love of literature and the fine arts. Elizabeth’s essays focus on life experiences and life in Vermont.

Leave a Reply