I suffered from dehydration last week. It manifests as Charley Horse when I’m sleeping. I can shelter my painting from the brilliant sun, but not my self. My friend Barbara Vandervort, who is a Civil War reenactor, told me about a beverage called switchel. “It’s quite refreshing, and has lots of electrolytes. Not that our ancestors knew that part, just that it kept them going,” she said.
Switchel originated in the Caribbean and moved to colonial America in the 17th century. It became a popular summertime drink. It also goes by the name “haymaker’s punch,” which is a clue that it’s good at replacing lost electrolytes and fluids. But it also clears the throat of dust and pollen, reducing allergies.
Laura Ingalls Wilder described a similar beverage: “Ma had sent them ginger-water. She had sweetened the cool well-water with sugar, flavored it with vinegar, and put in plenty of ginger to warm their stomachs so they could drink till they were not thirsty. Ginger-water would not make them sick, as plain cold water would when they were so hot.”
Even I should be able to follow this version of an 1853 recipe (the original made five gallons of the stuff):
5 cups of cold water
½ cup of blackstrap molasses
¼ cup of apple cider vinegar (preferably raw, unfiltered)
3 tablespoons ground ginger
Mix ingredients thoroughly. Store. Serve cold.
I got home from New York after 11 PM on Sunday. I’d arranged to paint on Monday with Barbara Carr, who is a friend of my pal Mary Byrom. Barbara hails from New Hampshire but has been staying in the same camp in Camden since 1960. My former studio assistant, Sandy Quang, was also with us. She’s in town interviewing for a job. Although she’s rusty, she loves to paint.
I had no intention of painting seriously—I was pretty painted out after four long days at Frederic Church’s Olana. However, sometimes a good painting just sneaks up on you. I quite like my start, at top. It needs a bit more work to strengthen the shadows, but I’m confident in it.
After lunch today I leave for Ocean Park, ME’s second annual plein air festival. In total, I’ll have been home for 38 hours between events, and I spent 6.5 hours of that time painting. That might just be nuts, but as I said yesterday, it’s really all about showing up.
Sadly, there are no elves to do my laundry, repack my car, replenish my supplies, and make my switchel. It’s gonna be a busy day indeed.
Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in August 2015. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.