Paisagem com Dunas

7:00 AM

Jose Pancetti, Paisagem com Dunas, 1947
Jose Pancetti’s Paisagem com Dunas painted in 1947, reminds me of us. My family.

We grew up in the dunes, the four of us building drip sandcastles, splashing around in our baby pool (because of Matt’s fear of stingrays), and running up and down the pathway seeking out a tortoise to come out and play.

On the ride home, the fabled stop at our favorite ice cream shop. Back then I did not like peanut butter (the favorite flavor of my brothers) too much so I stuck with cookie dough.

With Mom and Dad doing adult things we were left to our own devices, building Harry Potter castles from legos, serving up dinner at the poolside water shack (disclaimer - no real food was involved), and on one occasion standing dead still in the garage as a large black snake slithered by.

When the lights dimmed on our bunkbed room, Matt always got the top bunk, opposite the room I occupied the middle bunk, while Trevor slept on the trundle bed on the floor. As for Tommy he jumped from top, middle to bottom with the ease of the Curious George monkey he dragged everywhere. We all crowded around the microscopic television as we listened in on the adventures of Phil of the Future and Even Stevens.

Growing up, the five minute drive to the dunes of Naples, Florida meant at least for a little while, no more doctor’s appointments, therapy sessions, or unpredictable weather of Kansas. Just the sun shining down on a family of six as they walked along the coastline.

Today, almost eleven years later, the dunes show a little wear and tearn- a little erosion here and there, but I guess we do too.

So Rick, Kirsten, Matt, Trevor and Tommy - I give this to you.

To remind us of the beauty of yesterday but the promise of today. Although older we still walk the dunes of Bonita Beach, a family of five now. For without the dunes and without you I would not be able to navigate the uneven sand that falls beneath my feet.

The moment I first saw Paisagem com Dunas , I felt our little oasis rushing back to me like the ocean currents that come in off the gulf. Pancetti, unknown to me until this painting, captures something so ordinary that many might overlook it. 

By no means is my family extraordinary, much like the works Pancetti, yet to us the dunes mean so much than a combination of tectonic plate movement and wind. For in the dunes we could be just be a family. Not an architect or ski instructor or a disabled little boy or whatever else. Just Rick, Kirsten, Matt, Trevor, Megan, and Tommy. The Gannon Family.

Missing: Mom-behind the camera, Tommy- asleep in his stroller 
Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone they cared for. These are their moving responses. 

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