Tommy got up early that morning. It was 4:00am when Dad came in and touched his shoulder. He got up, dressed, brushed his teeth and made his way downstairs. Dad was topping off the thermos with coffee. “You ready for this Tommy?” he asked.
“Yes sir. May I have some coffee, too?”
Dad screwed the top on the thermos and handed it to Tommy, grabbed the lunch basket that they had packed the night before and they headed out to the truck but not before looking in the studio. Dad paused and looked at the canvas perched on the easel. His palette and knives were sitting on the stool. “I need to introduce more red and orange tones.” He said to himself and then they went outside.
Tossing their lunch in the truck bed with the tackle boxes and rods they got in the cab and Dad fired up the old Chevy Apache. It was cold but not too cold. Tommy could see his breath when he exhaled and he amused himself with that while Dad let the truck warm up. “Why do you want more orange, Dad?” Tommy asked.
“What? Oh, on the painting. I need ‘em to tie the composition together – to keep your eye from straying off the edge of the canvas.” Dad said. Dad was a right brain guy.
Tommy was a left brainer.
A slight knocking started from the engine. Dad did what he always did when his truck didn’t sound right. He turned up the radio until he couldn’t hear it. Then he lit a cigarette and they pulled away from the curb, headed towards the lake about 30 minutes away. Tommy started asking questions.
“How many stars are there, Dad? We’re studying space in school.”
“Lots of them, I guess. I never counted.”
“Mr. Parks, my science teacher, told us that it can take millions of years for the light of a star to reach earth so that we can see it. Do you think that’s right Dad?”
“Must be, if Parks says it’s so.”
“He started telling us about the speed of light and light years yesterday. I’m not sure I understand though. What’s a light year Dad?”
“I expect it’s the same as a regular year, with 1/3 less calories.”
“It’s pretty easy when you explain it,” Tommy said, “Mr. Parks made it sound really complicated.”
They pulled in by the side of the lake and got out of the truck.
“Let’s get some hooks in the water, shall we?”