The forsythia blooming here is not the obedient, tightly pruned shrub of the suburbs, but the wild, sprawling mess of the shrub in its natural state. Along with spring flowers comes the first flush of license plates from away and visitors strolling along Main Street in Camden. I mentioned this to my pal Mary, who lives in the southern part of the state, and she said the trickle is already a flood there.
My daily walk to the Rockport Post Office is circuitous. It takes me around the boatyard, where I stop to check their progress at filling up the slips. There are already a lot of beautiful boats in the water and the scene changes every day.
That means it’s time to get my bike out of the shed and check the tires. I’ll be riding down to paint at Camden harbor soon. Biking along Union Street is the least painful way of getting there in the high season. My bike can be leaned on a lamppost and ignored, but my car is limited to two hours downtown. The trick is to pack right the first time.
I wanted to illustrate this post with a photo of my bike kitted out for painting. I found one but the background—a channel light at the mouth of Irondequoit Bay on Lake Ontario—surprised me. For most of my life, graffiti on public structures has been part of the background noise of life. I accepted it with little thought about its deeper meaning. Today I find it intrusive, irritating and presumptuous.
For years, whenever I returned from Maine to Rochester, I’d end up hoarding big gulps of air before I walked through the rail underpass on S. Winton Road. The uncombusted exhaust gas pooling in this low place made my eyes water, but I only noticed it the first few days I was home. I suspect my response to the graffiti is similar. I’m being conditioned to a different kind of living.
At any rate, in a few weeks, I’ll be riding my bike to Camden, where the public dock is among my favorite places to paint in the world. I’ve spent many joyful hours there painting, talking about painting and visiting my pals at Camden Falls Gallery. But right now there’s a bit too much nip still in the air to spend it on the open water, and there are still all these beautiful boats coming in and out of the North End Shipyard. Until the end of April, at least, I’ll be trekking down to Rockland to paint.