Friday, May 13, 2016

"It's Time For a Summertime Dream...."

There is recorded an early piece of folklore which boldly declares... "One swallow never made a summer." This statement merely challenges a commonly-held myth that the sighting of a first swallow heralds the arrival of summer. Common sense would more accurately support that many other factors... most notably, the solar system's configuration would have more to do with predicting that moment.

Yesterday, in our part of the world, it indeed felt wholly like summer and even the thermometer conspired to add credence to such a premature belief. Summer's official start here will be marked here by the Summer Solstice at 6:34 EDT on June 20th. As we all know, the path of the earth orbiting the sun in the sky actually dictates the changing of the seasons... and the rest of the natural observations that we draw upon are merely in response to that celestial change of the earth's axial position relative to the sun.

The word solstice is derived from the combination of two Latin words "sol" (sun) and "solstitium" (to stop). Together, the term means that the sun appears to stop higher and more directly overhead to create greater warmth and longer light. Logic and science are practical and predictable instruments to guide decisions for planting, vacationing and many other truly summer decisions.

However, there is something soothing... even romantically reassuring to simply formulate one's own forecast of summer's arrival based upon events that seem miraculously to reoccur within the space of only a few days each year. I take great pleasure and joy in recording these "happen-stances" in my personal journal... and look forward to welcoming summer... in my own fashion.

Deb hung our red hummingbird feeder during the last week of April... in a simple act of faith and kindness. As if by magic... one week later on May second, the first of our three resident ruby red throats fueled up for the first long drink of the summer season at her feeder. The other two have since arrived... and the aerial warfare is now well underway. Their annual pattern of arrival lies (predictably) within the same seven day window according to my records kept since arriving in Rockport.

This summer-for certain occurrence in our lives is added to a chain of other changes as winter' defeat n' retreat deepens and brief Spring leaps so suddenly into Summer. Skeins of overhead Canada Geese have taken to the ground... have paired up and are now preparing to nest. Barn swallows patrol the waterfront with their aerial antics in pursuit of the copious supply of recently hatched flies. Ants have invaded our kitchen... cuing our immediate need to place ant traps strategically to quell their assault. These are the predictable visual reminders in my own consciousness... that summer is on the way.

Summer's presence is in the air as well. My itchy eyes and throat provide ample enough evidence that Claritan is in order for a few weeks. The pollen sacs have exploded with the increased heat. Leaflets have replaced catkins and a varied palette of vivid greens paints the landscape and woodlands.

A trillium tribe... bivouacked in their spring solitude. Sheltered by the roots of a great and ancient oak at Pitch Pine Point. As I paused on my evening walk to acknowledge their welcome new presence... I thought; "Did their ancestors partake in this annual spring pageant of renewal and rebirth?"

I wonder...

The trillium and other Spring wildflowers carpet the forest floor and add color and life to the previous drabness and decay. On my evening walk... the wonderful aroma of raindrops kissing the dry pavement awakens sense within me... that date back even to my earliest childhood.

Tonight... I am witness to the human ritual of which I have been part for all of my life. It is a sacred and hallowed moment for "Summer Folk"... as we are referred to by locals. Quite frankly, even though we now reside in Rockport and conduct a legitimate business here... we remain and are viewed by most, as being "from away." We were not born here. But that matters little to either Deb and I. We know "who" we are and find solace in that reality.

On the dock below us... I watched several carloads of young men appear suddenly and then charge excitedly down to the dock where a boat tended by two young men waited. There was an immediate flailing of upraised arms and long embraces... a brief conversation, followed immediately by a rapid relay of backpacks, bags of groceries, briquettes, beer, personal pillows and sleeping bags into the boat. Without pause they embarked southward... a toute vitesse around Club Island.

The annual "Boys of Summer Reunion" for 2016 was underway. I knew... and understood as well... that "The Girls of Summer" would soon repeat this summer sacrament. That would be replaced by the gatherings of the island clans who now return to their family summer retreats on cue every July and August weekend to share time in the Thousand Islands. Summer is a special time for all River Folk... both young and old. "I" am... a "River Boy"!

"River Boy" - oil on canvas 24 x 30 inches

This painting was part of a solo show I created entitled "Summertime Dreams" back in 2002. It captures my son Andrew on one of our six annual week-long canoe trips into the islands. It now hangs in his home... where it rightfully belongs.

So Summer???... It does indeed arrive on a solar and EDT platform for most. But for me personally... summer arrives in a way that I understand and help create. And at The Paint Box Gallery in 2016... Summer will be met with the changes that Deb and I have teamed up to create. All is in place. The hard work has been accomplished. The Gallery is flush with new color and life. We are exceedingly proud of our combined efforts. 

Welcome Summer!... and Welcome to those visitors who pass through our doors!

Here's a shortened virtual tour for those of you... "from away"! HA HA!

Happy Painting!... and Sweet Summertime Dreams... to ALL!!

Here's a musical song sampling where my "Summertime Dream" theme originates from! Thank you... Canadian Folk icon Gordie Lightfoot. As pure... and richly Canadian as Maple Syrup! Enjoy!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

"M" Words...

The month of May has been flipped over on my calendar... offering clean new space to fill with tasks and new possibilities. The first "M" word May... offers Deb and I welcome release from our winter "captivity" in our basement studio into the fresh air of our garden and river view. It is an uplifting and exciting rite of renewal.

We open The Paint Box Gallery on Mother's Day because this weekend celebrates another important "M" word for us - "Mother". Both of our Moms have passed... so the "M" word memories are all that remain. But on this special day set aside ...  we do especially remember their nurturing contributions, sacrifices and lessons that they shared so generously with us while they were part of our daily lives.

Personally, I find it difficult to separate my parents as being only female or male. I have always looked upon them as a team... both sharing the 'pulling' of the great burden of parenthood in tandem. Neither has had a larger influence upon me than the other. I am the sum total of the combined strength(s) of both.

Both contributed to and influenced the value system under which I have tried to live. I have modeled my own parenting strongly upon the template that they provided and am encouraged to see that their system... passed forward to me, and then by me to my own children has successfully been rooted. My planting now has flowered and currently bears strong promise of a beautiful and varied garden of individual blooms to bring further joy to the world.

I have neither painted, nor posted since early April... and have much missed both. But now, I am reaching the end of the necessary tasks and time that took me away. We are currently busy completing the last of our duties to ready the gallery for our Summer 2016 opening this weekend. Hopefully... the Universe will again reward us for our winter of work. Time will tell.

In closing out this short post, I felt it necessary to honour Motherhood. Mothers are truly more than the title usually suggests; they are as well mentors who share their learning and wisdom... magicians who weave the ordinary into life enriching tapestries of adventure, magic and joy for their families. Their "work"... is nothing less than... Fine Art.

What better way is there to salute them... to proudly share samples of the Fine Art that they nurtured in each of us... with the world. Here's a Mother's Day salute and a sampling of bouquets for all Moms... from my Mom and I !

Happy Mother's Day... and Good Painting to ALL... Artist Mothers!

Happy Mother's Day... "Mom and Dad"... I'll love you both... FOREVER!

 "Thank You... For the Music"

                              "There is beauty all around... when there's love at home..."

                                                                  "Keep on Smilin'..."

                                       "Seek... and find joy... in the simple things around you."

"Home... is where the Heart is!"