If you’ve ever sold a house, you know that the aggravation doesn’t end until the final papers are signed. We’re in that time between accepting an offer and closing. I gauge how bad the problem is going to be by how soothing my agent’s voice is when he says hello. I’m not going to get into the details of this last flurry of calls, but it didn’t resolve itself until long after I’d arrived at my painting destination.
The view from this spot on Cape Jellison looks across Penobscot Bay to Castine. My first task, then, was to use binoculars to trace the form of Wadsworth Cove, where I’ve spent many happy hours painting.
Cape Jellison is now wooded and quiet, the only sounds being the chatter of woodpeckers and the waves far below us. It’s difficult to believe there was once a busy harbor here, the first port facility built by the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad at the turn of the last century.
It was overcast when we picked up our brushes. Below us on the shore was a tree blown down in last week’s storm. The cold meant that it was just drooping into its first fade. It made a lovely contrast with the texture of the water. I carefully drafted it twice. As I was about to lift my brush, the sky shifted as it can do only in Maine. Suddenly, the world was flooded with light.
My subject was thrown into relief. Beyond it, the ocean shimmered in bands of color. I tossed my first board to the side and painted a lone spruce instead. I grew up with the hardwood forests of the mid-Atlantic. I’m not so hot on identifying or understanding evergreens. My host carefully identified the differences between white and red spruce and I concentrated on the essential outline of this one.
For those two hours of painting, I felt weightless and free, “in the zone,” if you will. That hasn’t happened for a long time. Finally, chilled, I slipped my brushes into my backpack. As I did, the phone rang. It was another minor crisis. But at least I had those two hours.