I find many gifts from birds in my back yard. Being enclosed by Cedars, Maples, Fir trees and Alder, the circle of grass attracts quite a lot of bird drama and I have found all kinds of feathers. Even once, while wandering with the dog, my eyes to the ground, I discovered an entire tiny nest, carefully woven together with a shred of plastic construction tarp. Still perfect.
But a few days ago, in my front yard, I was startled by an unusual visitor – a full grown Heron landed in the tangled mid-branches of the towering cedar tree, right next to me – perhaps only 10 feet above my head!! I think I might have said “Whoa – Hello!!” as it shifted and shuffled, and maybe something else like “Be careful there…” since it seemed a danger for long wings to be so tight in the tree. I know for sure, after gazing at it for a few eternal moments, I said “Could you leave a feather for me please?” Then it squawked and flapped and lazily flew.. away.
The next morning…..
Heron Magic, if you ask polite. 🙂
When the clouds roll away on a coast spring day, everything gleams with fresh intensity.
I’m busting out the tubes.
Sunshine on the back deck… finally.
Storms, Birdsong, Light returning… all present.
Favourite travel watercolours – lost since 2013!! – Found! Amazing what moving the furniture in the Thinking room will turn up!
Botticelli. Airy and graceful, like Spring.
So Max proclaimed, and it was true. Also true is what Julie said to me back in Florence just a couple of days before we left to go home. “Oh, you’ll be happy to get home, but about February, on a cold grim day, you will feel a deep unquenchable yearning in your soul for Italy.” OK, maybe those weren’t her exact words, but very nearly. So, in an effort to recapture some whisper of the flavour of that time, I have turned my eyes to coffee. Luckily, I have many, many pictures of it to choose from.
I dream of espresso, aromatic and sharp, but sweet. Sipped from thick, white porcelain cups. Even at the gas station, they would not serve a “To-go” coffee – Paolo brought it out in its perfect little cup with saucer and I drank it by the pump. It was all so delicious, every one. But the best was in the piazza of Santo Spirito, or the Boring church as Max called it.
I see his point, but I could never find it boring to sit on steps which felt the feet of Michelangelo.
Max and Lisa
And I do long to go back……… I knew I would.
Day One in Rome must have been a bit of an adjustment for my sweet, patient, globetrotting friends. From the second I clunked out the door my eyes were filled with the spectacle of light and texture and the astonishing age of ancient stones – and I did not want to miss a single inch of it.
Our street, Lisa, Paolo and Max
I probably took 45 minutes just to get to the end of our block – and not only because of the cobbles (have I mentioned the cobbles??) I couldn’t roll five feet without stopping for photos, and I’m pretty sure that is not the usual rate of exploration for my friends. But no one rushed me, and in fact we all found our rhythm – Max ranging ahead to scout, Paolo a bit ahead subtly directing Vespas and cars around us, and Lisa – well she was behind me. I have a feeling she didn’t mind too much (after the shock of slow wore off). I’ve seen the photos she took, and they are amazing.
So we snailed, and discovered, and uncovered details that quick movers might miss. Like the lions on the lintels.
And street art.
So the poor scoot, made for malls – not battlefields, ran out of battery and one of my fears was faced on the first day. I don’t know why I worried, Max was a skilled and careful pusher and we made it back. I was perhaps a bit shaken and stirred, but so incredibly full of wonder, I couldn’t have cared less.
Never will I forget the first day I was somewhere else, somewhere so far from home… somewhere as amazing as Italy.
It was all very fine, in fact extremely exciting, to wake up in Rome at 4am, have coffee with my companions and leap out into the day… Jetlag! World Travellers have Jetlag, and it is a breeze!!! One evening nap, that was all. So I think, It’ll be the same when I get home – a couple of funny days maybe. Easy.
Well, I have been corrected. I had Grand Designs of catching up on all my posts, sketching reams of drawings, and beginning scads of paintings – all in the first week back. Instead, I wake up at 4am, wander around my sweet warm home in a grog, and turn into a bobblehead at 7pm every night. Nothing can keep me awake, not even a bright crackling fire or pups squashing me, not coffee, tea, a nice glass of Malbec or even the opening game of hockey season. Oh well.. at least finally today I managed to pull out an ink drawing I did from the bell deck at the Masseria and as I added colour, my mind flew back to Puglia.
Cool October breeze, some sun and some rain, I’ll take it easy and soon enough I’ll be back to normal. I still can’t believe I did it. Drowsy weirdness is a tiny price to pay for such an adventure, mine forever now.
And, the good thing about being sleepy all the time – – my dreams are filled with Italy. Slowly, my blog will be too.
I have been talking about sketching in Janet and Robert’s garden for awhile now, and we made it happen today. I rattled over the country roads and up a steep drive on my beast of a ShopRider, basket full of sketch stuff. I thought I might spend a couple of hours, drawing the clusters of grapes on the arbor, but it turned into a most wonderful afternoon – the three of us gathered around a still-life of freshly picked things, either from their garden or a local stand.
We had food and a shade umbrella and the blue sky was streaked with horsetail clouds.
Five lovely hours we all sat and drew, the murmur of India Runner ducks in the background.
So delightfully peaceful.
Even though my mind is moving toward Italy, I haven’t ignored this beautiful coast summer. I have spent pleasant hours on my pretty back deck, enjoying my flower filled pots and O’Keeffe inspired wall art.
I scooted to the Roberts Creek pier and had a fine 2 hours of sketching the copper roofed house across the creek.
But the best day of all was when instead of going up the lane back home, I unexpectedly turned the shoprider down towards the lookout at the end of my road and started a sketch of the view. Suddenly, I heard a huge whooshing blow – a woman on the beach below started yelling “The Whale!! The Whale!!” so I peeled out to a more open point and there it was. Or at least there was the spray and a huge hump of a grey back, moving slowly, following the tide line toward Sechelt.
I could feel it – I’m sure.
A great day indeed.
That is what my friend Marlene told me, and I have been fully embracing the pre-trip.
I had to think of something which would hold my attention, and keep my excitement from spilling over into anxiety – because I know myself. I can get… squirrelly. So, I have made up a crazy project for myself. I am filling one of my beautiful Kim Oka encaustic journals with sketches of details from Renaissance paintings, mostly of those that I could possibly see in Italy – but I am using ballpoint pens. And a bit of watercolour. Thats it.
Then, I am scanning these sketches and printing them out as postcards, which I will take with me.
While I am casually relaxing in a piazza with a tiny white cup filled with thick espresso, or perhaps a nice glass of jewel red Chianti, I will write my Deep Thoughts on them and send them back home to myself embellished with beautiful Italian stamps. This lovely dream is keeping my hands busy and my anxiety levels manageable.
Two more weeks……….
My ticket is booked and paid for. I say these words to myself, (and to pretty much anyone else I can pin down) with emotions that streak from thrill to fear in seconds. This MS woman is going to Italy. The dogged determination and kindness of friends will drag my wobbly ass across the ocean to the country that has filled my mind and heart with wonder since my days at Cap College under the spell of the Goddess of Art History, my friend Josephine. So missed.
Julie: “Listen. You have to come. This might be the last time…. I mean… ah… erm… This will be an awesome trip and we will all be there to… uh… Well, you are coming. That’s that.”
I think of past large scale paintings I have done, and present intimate journal sketching I am doing. Ambitions at the mercy of body. I remember my New Year’s resolution – Fear out – Faith in. Holy Crap, it is working. Could I really do it?
I laugh….. I suspect she is a little wrong, though. I think this trip will be the first. If I can’t belly up to the big canvasses just yet, I have other dreams to pursue.
I have Carnets des Voyages to fill. 🙂