“Please close the gate behind you,” she said as made my way to the 100 acre farm behind her Antebellum house. I was just glad that she had granted me permission to walk back there and study the shadows on her haybales which glistened in the morning sun. “Don’t worry,” I said, “I’ll shut the gate behind me, I promise.” As I approached the gate, I noticed the horseshoe right away and remembered that turned upwards, it brings good luck. The slide was quite rusted and slightly bent so opening the gate was going to be a chore, I thought. Someone else had been keeping the same promise for decades. And that’s when it hit me. The symbolism was deeper than “Please shut the gate behind you.” Suddenly I was studying the gate and latch and I had all but forgotten those haybales in the fields. The many colors of rust, the lichen on sun-bleached oak, and temperature of shadows became my focus that morning. I lightly sketched it in while I imagined her watching form the window. She was probably standing there, peering through the drapes, I thought waiting to see if I would close the gate behind me. Actually, I never even touched the gate, out of respect. There was no need.
- Alan Shuptrine