Prior to the war that has broken out there, perhaps I’m not alone in having only a limited realization of where Ukraine could be found on a map of the world. Somewhere near Russia, I knew, but my memory didn’t connect its accurate alignment.
Nor was I fully aware of its place in the history of the collapse of the Soviet Union that led to its independence.
Now, however, like the great majority of citizens across the globe, I look upon what has happened to the peace-loving people of that country with great sadness and can only imagine how they must be suffering.
Interestingly, last year our son Brian became a customer of one of its citizens – a stained-glass artist we know only as Julia.
The connection came about when he began a search for someone who could design and produce a window for the transom above the door to the family room of our Blue Ridge Mountains cabin in North Carolina.
He spent a great deal of time looking on the Etsy website for the type of stained-glass artwork he wanted. After identifying three artists that specialized in the type of design he was looking for, he finally chose Julia’s examples as coming the closest to what he had in mind.
It wasn’t until they began the exchange of email conversations that he learned she was a Ukrainian citizen. Dealing with someone on the other side of the globe didn’t present any particular challenges as their relationship would develop remotely.
The only thing different from someone closer to home would be working through multiple time zones and, ultimately, shipping methods and how long it would take for delivery of the finished product.
Brian began by describing what he wanted. The finished window needed to include the elements of the mountains and forests that surround the cabin as well as a background image of the remarkable sunsets we get to anticipate daily that are viewed from our balcony.
Finally, there had to be bears in the scene. For most visitors to the oldest mountain range on earth, seeing a bear is at the top of the list of things they want to experience. The only thing better would be to see multiple bears.
So … Julia first produced a pencil sketch for Brian to consider and provide feedback as to how well she was interpreting what his vision was for the window. After some back and forth exchanges, the design was set.
Next was picking colors of glass that would define all the elements and make the most dramatic appearance – the ultimate goal of the image that would greet guests as they made their way down the steps to the family room entry.
After that part of the process was decided, it all had to fit exact sizing for the transom window. Tolerances greater than a quarter inch would result in either an unwanted gap or a piece too large for the opening.
The finished work arrived fully intact in time for our trip to the cabin for our family’s Christmas celebration when the gift would be opened and then set into place. As it turned out the fit was as perfect – as was the image that transformed the room.
Brian has made subsequent attempts to make contact with Julia – all to no avail. Always immediately responsive during their time working together, he has not heard from her.
That reality, of course, makes us wonder if she’s okay. And it brings the distresses of a far-away war to our consciousness as we hope someone we never met but feel a connection with, is going to survive as her country suffers unimaginable destruction.