Wednesday, August 31, 2011
On one of my walks up here on the Hill, I go by Joe's gold fish pool. I enjoy hanging out there with a couple of neighborhood hoodlums - two cats who, like me, are there waiting for some action. I don't exactly know what I think I might see. I just count the fish. You never know. Joe says he hasn't lost any so far, but by the look of those two cats, the day will eventually come.
There was always a pool in that spot, but before Joe moved in it was a yucky, brackish, mosquito-breeding black hole to nowhere. He cleaned it out, built it up, added an aeration system, some lights and a bunch of exotic plants. It's a really special little place.
When the weather starts to cool off at night, Joe removes the fish and dunks them into a big tank in his apartment until next spring. You never know when he's going to make the move, so this time of the year I stop by more often. If Joe had visiting hours during the winter, I'd go - there's something very soothing about watching those six fish swim around.
Joe's Gold Fish Pool • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Sunday, August 28, 2011
We're in a hurricane right now. Her name is Irene. It's mostly windy and raining here in Portland, but the folks west of here are getting pummeled and they are scared. The river is rolling over Route 27, jumping the banks and collapsing bridges up in Carrabassett Valley. Our field is flooded and the garden and orchard are gone. But Tom, Harry and Russell saved our tomatoes and they and everyone I know are safe.
It's hard for me to remember I'm not top dog when in the company of Mother Nature. And whenever Mother Nature scares the hell out of me like she is right now, I repeat May The Force Be With You 100 times and whistle this song which always pops into my head. It's the one from the The King and I - whenever I feel afraid, I strike a careless pose and whistle a happy tune so no one ever knows I'm afraid. I'm almost embarrassed but it's the truth, this is what I do.
This time as I whistled I put down my idea of a safe, serene and peaceful place. Not even Mother Nature can take that away from me or any of you hardy souls over there in Western Maine.
Whenever I Feel Afraid • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Friday, August 5, 2011
Though we spent most days as lords of our own incredible hood - which was a retired cow pasture bordering acres of thick woods - a trip to the beach was a plunge into another grand adventure of our best imagined possibilities.
We needed a ride to get to the beach, so it was always a long shot on any given day whether or not we’d make it. But when mom’s call went out, we all piled into our old station wagon like a pack of wild animals. From that point on and for the next six at least hours, we’d be on hyper speed to make sure we didn’t miss a single thing - and we didn’t.
We'd stay all day - the tide would come and go and come again. Creatures hid in the mudscape that was low tide - underfoot, under rocks and in the seaweed. Sand sharks swam through our legs. We'd create huge cities and watch them crumble back into what they came from, dig for clams, and stay in the water for so long we’d become fish - our fingers and toes wrinkled into scales, our brains waterlogged with unadulterated joy. My mom entrusted us to the beach and the ocean enabling her to relax and find herself. She wade into the water, splash water on her arms and then plunge into her famed sidestroke along the shoreline. As lightning storms conjured up, rolling straight at us from Long Island, they’d bring mesmerizing bolts of lightning and huge waves to jump. We stand and challenge the mightiest mother nature had to hurl at us and at the same time challenge our own mother to come and get us, screaming from shore to no avail. We were trapped between two of the greatest forces of nature. It was one of the few times I saw my mother really angry with us. But I firmly believe now that there was part of her that was a savage just like us and who relished the opportunity to test her mortality too.
Mom would pack us lunch from home, but if the stars and planets were aligned, and the thought of going back to our stuffy, hot and humid little house inland was unbearable to her, she would make a run to Gold's Deli in town and return with fixins' for fat, luscious sandwiches for dinner - roast beef, ham or turkey, stuffed between two pieces of soft rye bread, and slathered with mustard and mayo. It was a feast beyond words, laced with salt air and peppered with sand. As we all sat around this feast, we were gently embraced by her infectious joy and caressed by the softest and most sultry ocean breeze. We were so happy there.
It was truly heaven on earth, and something that created a wanderlust and insatiable curiosity in us all. Throughout our lives we would always speak with a hint of somewhere else, like a filmy memory of someplace other than where we stood. This special place that just the five of us inhabited would always be draped before our mind's eye like fairy dust, glittering and constantly beckoning us to fly up and away and to be free, always beckoning us to be free.
The Beach • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200