The Full Moon, the Boy and the Harp 12.29.2020

What a tumultuous year 2020 has been and as we prepare to close with the last full moon I thought something different would be beneficial. Here is a little story that has absolutely nothing of what this year has come to mean for millions of people around the world. I like to think of it as a delicate slice of pound cake with a dash of whipped cream after the disgrace of a contentious and riotous meal. We all could do with a bit of an emotional dessert after this rollercoaster of a year.

The Full Moon, the Boy and the Harp 12.29.2020

Once upon a time there was on the far western seas there was a boy who lived by his wits with his winning comrades of the sea. Life was simpler as the wheel,bane of the wilds and essential for war and domination, had yet to be conceived.

The wheel lay like a spinning orb in the nocturnal dreams of wild creatures that knew when it rolled the land it would indeed rule the land. The forest and the sea would be at the disposal of those two-legged creatures that until this moment had only achieved fire and sharp sticks to wound and maim.

The boy swam in the seas with seals and avoided the great white sharks that would hunt him the way a fox would stalk a rabbit. The great white shark had an enormous advantage that is until one of those pointy sticks that the humans made fell into the sea and then the boy had power, he had a weapon. He no longer swam in fear but grew bold with the pointy stick daring the shark to come for him and then he would rule the lagoon.

The shark was much older than the boy and he knew this sea-pup was feeling audacious but as the shark also knew that the seals enjoyed swimming with the boy so he would hunt further away, where the seal pups were learning to swim. Much time went by before the boy had cause to use the pointy stick.

The full moon was approaching and the boy swam out to where the sea was brightened by bioluminescence and it was magical. The full moon reflected off the brilliant luminous sea and the stick in the boy’s hand was lost. Down the boy swam to the coral reef where dazzling anemone spawned and an octopus waited for a crab to stroll by.

The boy searched in vain for his pointy stick, but the only thing he found was an odd piece of wood. It was heavy and he tugged and tugged to free it from the octopus’s grasp. The boy found a crab for the octopus and when the octopus captured the crab it released the wooden sphere. The boy seized his prize and swam with it to his lagoon.

The object was laden with water and was heavy to bring up to the beach, but it shone so in the light of the moon the boy worked harder to see what this contrivance was. Strands of metal as thin as a hair were laced from one side to the other, was this a net to catch fish? The boy held it up in the moon light and brushed his fingertips over the metal cords like strings which hummed drops of water that flew away and landed like sparkling gems.

The boy smiled and grew adventurous to see what sounds he could make with this mysterious device. As he strummed his fingernails over the metal cording a song came to his ears over the surface of the water, he sang along and continued to play. He sang with the Sirens all night until the moon set. As the sun’s first rays came like fingers reaching over the horizon they lit on the harp and it became soft in his hands and slipped through his grasp into the sand. Only the drops of water that were diamonds lay on the sand twinkling in the new dawn.

The boy gathered them up and put them in a cockleshell. He would wait and see what these gems would become when the moon was once more full and bioluminescence made the sea radiant with life.

The Full Moon, the Boy and the Harp is an original watercolor painted on Fabriano watercolor paper with Sennelier watercolors. Golden accents achieved with van Gogh metallic watercolors.

All the very, very best for a wonderful New Year!

Gratitude 11.30.2020

November is the next to the last month of the year and what a year 2020 has been! How many times did I reminisce about the terror of Y2K that turned out to be such an overblown fear?  We have all learned a great deal about ourselves, our families and a lot about living safely in the time of Covid-19.

November’s full moon for me is a time to think about what I’m grateful for. While I miss our friends and families, it has been the sea for me that has heralded my spiritual balance. I am awed my grandfather’s baby sister Katie and only girl with five brothers had the courage to make the leap of life on Piney Ridge in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania to eventually retire to Honolulu, Hawaii. With a role model like that in my family, setting the goal to live on Sanibel Island did not seem so far out of reach.

I am grateful Jacques Cousteau brought the wide blue ocean to our living room via television. With those images floating through my dreams, it was easy to be inspired to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California. To walk amongst the rock pools at low tide in Pismo Beach, California and to be amazed at the actual sea anemones I had seen on television and at aquariums. To take lunch alfresco beside the harbor in Morro Bay, California and to watch the sea otters with their meal as we had ours was a spectacular memory.

I am delighted by Gustav Klimt’s vision and his imagination to create his magical golden paintings. I am thankful for the Gustav Klimt paintings that did survive the Second World War. We can all see thousands of artwork today that the Monuments Men risked their lives to preserve for future generations, housed in museums around the world.

I am honored my grandmother taught me the stitches that she embroidered on doilies and pillowcases. I am grateful that while other children were learning the alphabet my mother made sure I knew how to mix watercolors to make new colors and how to hold a paintbrush. I am humbled by my older brother’s skill of metalworking and that he allowed me to observe him at his lathe while he crafted timeless jewelry in sterling silver.

I am grateful my partner in life, my husband Mike appreciated my desire to travel and to see European Art, the blue of the Caribbean Sea, and the big Pacific Ocean and he fulfilled those desires. That he learned to navigate the Paris Metro system with only a background in classic Latin is a testimony to the lengths he will go to see me happy. 

Most of all I am grateful for those moments of joy we shared with our friends and families that we have had to hold on to those memories through this long and deadly pandemic. Because of those good memories we can also have the faith that we will see them again.

My colored pencil drawing Aloha is on 20” x 26” Fabriano Tiziano pastel and charcoal paper made in Italy. Pablo pencils are by Caran d’Ache made in Switzerland.

Quelling Darkness

We lived in Hampton, Virginia until I was four years old and then we moved temporarily to Huntingdon County Pennsylvania. My older brothers had been there before so they were prepared for the mountains bringing twilight early compared with the lowlands of the Tidewater Peninsula. The transition in my young mind was like stepping from golden sunshine near a sparkling sea to the shadows of a cool and mysterious cave sheltered by enormous fir trees. The threat of bear attacks punctuated with a reminder that mountain lions could be hiding in every shadow was a reminder not to be out after dark. In Hampton, enormous predators were sharks and unless you waded too far out at the beach sandspurs were the biggest terror.

Reading Bram Stoker’s epistolary novel Dracula reminded me in the first few pages of Jonathan Harker’s journal what it would be like to travel from the comfortable familiarity of established London to the mountains of remote European villages where language was yet another barrier. Here too was another similarity, for while my parents grew up Huntingdon County their language was a bit different than the Tidewater dialect I was accustomed to from our neighbors and my classmates in Pre-K. I was told I was the one that talked funny.

Old barns had Pennsylvania Dutch Hex symbols painted on their facades and buck antlers hung in rows on the wall of an old smokehouse of the ancestral home of my maternal Grandmother’s family. Her people had been living and farming on Piney Ridge since the early 1800’s, and here too I felt about as old as a six week old kitten in a foreign land.

Reading the novel Dracula magnified the fact that though we have all seen film adaptations of this particular novel over the course of film history beginning in the age of silent films, few of these filmmakers ever troubled to bring out the true heroine of the novel; technology and scientific advancements. Beginning with the Kodak Camera used to photograph Count Dracula’s property in London to convey something of his newest acquisition to the blood transfusions to attempt to save Lucy Westenra from a mysterious wasting disease; technology is the best weapon against their unseen foe. 

Being the only daughter in a family with four sons I was reminded often what a girl can’t do, and yet even in the latter 1800’s Bram Stoker was so generous as to create a modern heroine in Wilhelmina Murray. He allows her, an unmarried woman, to travel un-chaperoned to the distant and mysterious Buda-Pest to collect her fiancé invalid Jonathan Harker who is suffering with brain fever and unable to travel alone. Dracula was published in March of 1897.  Women did not receive the right to vote in England until 1918 and that was with the stipulation that they be over the age of 30 and the owner of land. Mina Murray was none of these.

All the horror associations around the novel Dracula were more inventions of film than the work of the epistolary novel, because it was with science, technology and teamwork they were able to defeat a vampire fiend and coincidently these are the tools we need to defeat a pandemic too.

And now for something completely different

Unless you have been stored away in the empty caverns of some distant cave in an abandoned mine you will be very aware of all the political upheaval of last night. Let us take a step away from contemporary society to something bigger than individual human beings; let us take a moment tomorrow night and gaze at our shared heavens, at our celestial partner our Moon. October begins tomorrow and is heralded in with a big beautiful full moon. October 2020 has two full moon events and it would be foolish not to at least pause and appreciate our bounteous heavens in spite of the disorder here on Earth.

What seems sometimes like another lifetime ago I was a girl in the Commonwealth of Virginia, a resident of Newport News.  As such we wouldn’t miss a glorious full moon to sit in candlelight and tell a fabulous goblin tale. Modern life on the peninsula was surrounded by history and the past. Evidence of the American Revolution, and the War Between the States sometimes dwarfed modern life. There was no ignoring the past, a ride past  historic Fort Monroe on a trip to the beach was a reminder that once upon a time Edgar Allan Poe also called Virginia home. A bicycle ride in forgotten woods would reveal ancient house foundations belonging to lost settlers was always possible in Virginia; if there be graves than there might be ghosts too. Tomorrow take a moment to escape the media to sit down and take in the night sky the way humans have for thousands of years. There will always be political strife, but two full moons in a single month is a rarity, that’s why they’re called blue moons. 

Giselle and the Pirate’s Ghost 9.30.2020

Giselle swam down in the shadow of the sperm whale until the glow of the moon was merely a memory and the only illumination was the bioluminescence of sea life. Down, down and still further to the depths of the sea until she could see the silhouette of the old ship. The once brilliant sails had all but melted over the decades until only threads hung here and there barely moving in the deep water. Crabs scurried about in the shadows seeking shelter from predators along the planks of the disintegrating deck. 

Giselle saw the low pulsing outline of an octopus tucked into a barrel settled onto the rotting berth. She easily swam down until it was blacker than any night on shore and here she saw the great trunk open and waiting. A smaller octopus sprawled over the gems and coins gathering silt from the sea. Carefully she swam in place and then she eased her hand under the octopus, its suckers tasting her as she did so knowing she was of the sea too. It lifted and shifted to a pail lying on the floor and then she could dip her hands into the treasure that sunk with the sailing ship.

There had been a terrific storm that easily flipped the massive ship about on the sea like a toy boat on river rapids. The ship sank and the crew were lost except for one chained to the chest to protect the swag stolen by conquest of the natives. Emeralds larger than the biggest pearl she had ever seen and plenty of gold chains and coins but they were worthless to Giselle as she wanted the blue gem. This one even in the depths of the sea still cast a blue glow as if a fabulous creature were locked inside. She held it in her palm and she watched as the blue light shifted and bounced off her hand and arm. It floated just above the blue gem and when Giselle held it up to her eye she realized she could not see through the gem but into the gem and there was a story to be seen here, however she was not alone.

The pirate tethered to the chest in life and in death would garner no treaty. Giselle placed the gem amongst the gold and emeralds and quickly removed herself from the phantom of the ship. She swam to the surface of the water where the moon reflected off the sea. She must liberate the gem from the chest for she was sure there was very special magic contained in the blue orb, but she must consider how to do so without paying the levy of the phantom.

Tales from the Sea

Images created with Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils on Strathmore black paper.

Art to Dream by

A1 if wishes were horses to share

As the global pandemic continues to unfold one thing has been clearer for me; the last thing I see before I close my eyes at night should be something to send me to a world of happy slumber. That may seem a little childish; however this whole daily risk of death was something I thought we had as a society left comfortably in the distant past and to use a new phrase I don’t want to adult all the time. Dreams are someplace safe we might take a little cerebral vacation from all the strife of our waking world, and I want to close my afternoon with things that will bring magical dreams rather than nightmares. So my new theme for the time being is Art to Dream by.

Now what I want to dream about may be different than what someone else chooses and the beauty of dreams is all the endless real estate to populate with beautiful images and even some really impossible feats. For example, we live in a modestly sized two bedroom condo and the reality of having a baby Asian elephant to care for is impossible to say the least, and yet I experienced a marvelous dream that we were in fact in a house caring for a baby elephant. The dream left me smiling all day while I took care of laundry just thinking of the roly-poly chubby cherub of a baby elephant to hose down outside and to tuck into its little crib at night was a joy to recall.

When I was a child I would have dreams of flying and I knew others who did as well. Thanks to Jacques Cousteau I could also dream of life in the great big ocean, sometimes swimming and sometimes on a submarine that looked more like a London double-decker bus. Of course I haven’t lost touch with reality but waking up after an especially amazing alternate reality is fabulous.  I won’t have to clean up after a baby elephant as in there’s no litter box, but it was a joyous dream.  Being an adult the nightly news may make us all wish we had something to smile about. I can only imagine what it is like for parents with small children, how to make our reality less scary?

And that is where my idea for Art to Dream by, as in the type of images that would be found in a children’s storybook only larger and with little or no words as to create an image that people can make up their own stories to slip off to dreamland. Because in a society where everybody has an opinion and wants to debate it on social media, isn’t it nice to know that our dreams are our own private kingdom and we can be royalty on a throne or we could have a baby elephant in a two bedroom condo; the choice is ours.

My gouache watercolor If horses were wishes then wizards would fly is painted on Arches cotton paper, iridescent accents achieved with Schmincke metallic watercolors.

Social Distance like a Mermaid

A star gazing mermaid 8.3.20

Social distancing can be very effective if practiced rigorously. It is painfully clear the pandemic hasn’t released its grip on our country or the rest of the world for that matter. Self isolating is a behavior that isn’t so bad once you recognize it frees your mind to think of loftier topics; such as what’s it all about?

In centuries past being a hermit or a recluse was considered a bit standoffish and yet those that pulled away from society for religious reasons are more likely to have come through those bouts of plague better than their families in teeming towns and cities did, and that is something to consider. While I hear it at least once a day the recovery of Covid-19 is 96 percent, okay what if you’re part of the 4 percent mortality; no one wants to be in that group. And that is my point entirely; avoid groups.

Sure we have all heard of infected people, who came through the illness with minimal complications, but there are just as many stories of some healthy, vibrant, human beings who died and for them that means 100% mortality and to avoid that is to change behaviors. Changing behaviors is what human beings have the hardest part with as we all think we know how to take care of ourselves. Regardless of how many Americans are now part of the gross numbers of those that did not survive there are still people that avoid the truth.

We have our children inoculated against measles, mumps, and rubella. We have a tetanus shot about every ten years and if you have a cat or a dog than they are inoculated against rabies and dogs need to be protected from Lyme’s and distemper, not doing so is irresponsible. We all grasp that because we have heard it our whole lives. If you haven’t see the film Ole Yeller, than you may want to view how an unseen microbe can impact a life or you could just recognize that around our global community we’re dealing with a pandemic in catastrophic proportions.

While I miss seeing our family and friends I do not want to risk my life nor would I want them to risk theirs for a chance to say hello. Many years ago I had a family member in a burn unit and we could not visit unless we took precautions such as gowns and masks because they were in a vulnerable critical condition and could not risk any infections. Fresh flowers and fruit were prohibited as it may introduce bacteria, or insects that burn victims could not fight off.  If we could take those precautions for a loved one how difficult is it to be considerate of some else’s loved ones?

Time away from crowds isn’t a bad thing as it gives us time to evaluate what we really miss and what we’re looking forward to and that’s the best part having the clarity of the situation to know that we can overcome this as soon as we’re all on the same page. One thing to me is obvious and that thinking clearly and logically will carry us further than arguing over incidentals. Do I social distance? Of course why would I want to risk my health? Do I a wear a mask, YES, as if my life depended on it. I do miss going to dinner and I do miss getting dressed up to see friends and family, but I know I would miss friends and family more if I unintentionally brought them  death. Alive is where I want to be when this pandemic is over. Alive is my goal and I want that for all my friends and family as well and with that target in mind let’s act accordingly.

My Star Gazing Mermaid is painted with Schmincke Designers Gouache on Arches cotton paper. Enjoying those quiet moments at the beach at sunrise or even under a starry sky is a restorative alternative to the television or computer screen. We will pull through this, we will once again be able to enjoy ourselves in the company of loved ones, but first we need to be safe.

The Dream Ocean

A DreamFish 5.8.20

I dreamt of Las Vegas. What I recall is being on a huge plateau sky deck that overlooked not an arid wilderness, but a vast inland sea that appeared almost overnight. The waves were enormous.

I knew this great galaxy of new life sprang from the clouds and not the dessert below. Exotic creatures swam in the magnificent water that blanked the night sky. The dream ocean hangs above but not drowning the terracotta colored world below.

Even now I can see it as I close my eyes; this amazing ocean floating above the dessert and every now and then some aquatic artifact drifts like a feather to the parched sand below…

The Atlantic Ocean so much a part of my childhood that even as an adult surrounded by dessert I bring the salty brine to my dreams. I watch the epic film Lawrence of Arabia staring Peter O’Toole and I can’t stop my mind wondering all that sand and no sea, how can it be?

Summers of my youth were spent visiting my family in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania hundreds of miles from the ocean and yet dig in the shale of any gravel driveway and fossilized scallop shells were easily found amongst the other rocks. How could there be ancient seashells hundreds of miles from saltwater? I was told was many thousands of years ago the ocean covered nearly the whole planet and then sea life flourished abundantly. The mountains rose up revealing the land beneath to warm and dry in the sun.

Every day I am able I walk the sands that fringe the Gulf of Mexico. Living on an island each day is an opportunity to discover new shells and to witness the abundant wildlife that share Sanibel with the humans. Pelicans dive for fish in deeper water and rays little bigger than a Frisbee skim the ankle-deep waves for breakfast and dinner. Sandpipers forage among the shells washed up for their food and close by people walk with the Sanibel stoop to collect shells. It is a paradise people flock to after the bitterness of winter cold, for on a tropical island spring rules eternal.

Life before we self isolated seems ages ago and yet we attended the 83rd Annual Sanibel Shell Festival in March. This event brings shell collections collected around the world from snorkeling, to scuba divers and even more fantastic are the ancient shells collected in locations far from any saltwater. Spectacular shells belonging to species of mollusks extinct for thousands and sometimes millions of years ago is a rare peek into the evolution of a species.  We may marvel at the ingenuity of an octopus’s camouflage, but we may trace their ancestry back far enough and once they too depended on the protection of a shell.

Shells are the introduction to Sanibel for thousands of visitors every year and while they are here they may have a cloudy day to visit the Bailey Mathews Shell Museums and the prize specimen of the exhibit, a Pacific octopus. When we learn about shells we may also learn about ourselves. What I’ve learned about myself is I would rather have sand between my toes than wear gloves to shield my fingers from freezing cold. I prefer to don a straw hat instead of a woolly knit cap and I’ll take the warmth of the sun over the bite of icy wind. This for me is not new, I have always been a summer loving human and here on Sanibel I savor it every single day.

We have it appears as the rest of the planet come to terms with life during the time of Covid-19 and we must strive to find normalcy in an ever changing world.  Bicycling albeit with a cotton mask covering our nose and mouths is one way we breakup the routine of being inside. Rising and walking the beach just before sunrise to exercise and clear our minds of the negativity of the pandemic is another. Shells are still swept up on the sands daily only there are far fewer people to collect them.

Eventually schools will reopen, children will play with their friends and we as adults will once more gather in mass to watch entertainers or our favorite sports team, but until we have the all clear it is foolish to jeopardize that possibility with false starts that will only prolong self isolating. Treebeard an Ent in JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings had a phrase perfect for humans with low tolerance or impatience, “Don’t be too hasty,” or as Benjamin Franklin is quoted, “Haste makes waste,”. I consider good people a luxury we cannot afford to wreak havoc on.

My Dream Fish an original artwork on Strathmore toned blue mixed media paper. Pablo Swiss made pencils by Caran d’Ache. Golden accents achieved with van Gogh metallic watercolors, all purchased before the pandemic.

Greetings and Salutations,

A in the night garden 3.13.20 - to use

Pandemic, is a word we all probably had in vocabulary and other than science fiction novel spun into an apocalyptic film we perhaps never really gave it its due. Here we are in 2020 and the year seemed to going well, except of course for those individuals in China that sickened and died by the wicked virus. The rest of the planet chugged along like the super train that it is in industry, manufacturing, and last but not least tourism; especially the cruise ship industry. Here we are dusting off our new vocabulary words like: social distancing, self-isolation, self-quarantine.

It would appear that the year 2020 is the year we remember why those ancient religious hermits were living on mountaintops and tucked away from society in the furthest desserts. Were they religious zealots or merely intelligent people hoping to spare themselves a visit from the Black Death? The word quarantine was a result of 14th century Venice attempting to prevent plague from entering their beautiful city. Ships must wait 30-40 days before coming to port in the harbor.

While we are not in the eminent danger of that scourge we are not living the lives we had imagined we would be when winter had released its grip on northern climates. A pandemic can be as unpleasant because the shelves are not fully stocked at the grocery because some folks went into all out panic mode or as cruel as having a loved one succumbs to the dreaded virus. It is to be remembered that if we all adhere to some simple rules than we can all make it out of this alive and that is where I want to be when summer rolls around, alive.

We all have to make sacrifices and postponing an upcoming visit to the dentist seemed wise. Not going to see the physician when an obvious ear infection caused my head to throb was something I was prepared to suffer because not going out and exposing myself to possible infection when my body was already compromised seemed intelligent.

Being the history geek that I am and I do relish a dark tale I have in my personal library The DECAMERON of BOCCACCIO so I fully understand the concept of hunkering down and sitting tight when a bad situation is being rolled out. Understanding the concept and actually living with a pandemic is not the same thing but at least I think I understand we’re doing a lot better.

For one thing we have actual doctors with actual science behind their tests, things like microscopes and blood tests as opposed to some individual calling themselves doctors and wearing pointy masks stuffed with garlic and other herbs to disinfect, disarm the bad vapors. Bad vapors was as about as scientifically descriptive as they could define. Chicken pox leaves the suffer with a smell about their person and I would imagine folks suffering with the Black Death had an odor as their body erupted in boils and continued to putrefy.

Covid-19 may not be the plague, but for those individuals with compromised immunities it is. We should all use caution tempered with intelligence to proceed through these times. And when it is all over we may take time to celebrate its demise along with polio, and small pox. Bubonic plague is still contracted in poorer countries and the illness kills 30% 90% of those infected. Death if it occurs happens within ten days. Vaccines are not full proof and antibiotics are prescribed.

See self-isolation for two weeks sounds better already, think of all the mini projects you can complete. Who is going to drag you out of self isolation while you complete a sewing project, your novel, that painting, that novel you couldn’t find time to read, your kids scrapbook, painting a bedroom, re-tile the bathroom, the quilt for a nursery, the list is endless and only you know how you can fill your proscribed time out from society.

The Night Garden an original work on black paper with Caran d’Ache Pablo pencils 

 

Mermaids

A 1 fish starry-sea mermaid

Visit the Greco-Roman exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and you will see examples of mermaids depicted in ancient art. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has some unique examples of mermaids in sculpture and paintings as well.

When we visit our familiar beach for a day of sun and sand, eventually we’re going to wade out and refresh ourselves in the salty water. This simple exercise exposes us to the alien, and the foreign for the water we stand in isn’t bound to any particular continent or island; no it washes its tides across the surface of our planet by the influence of our moon. Change is inevitable, the tide rises and the sand shifts in new patterns and the sea life must shift with it. A flip-flop lost in a river in Asia may wash up on a beach in New England affirming we are one planet with one super ocean surrounding our lands.

Mermaids, naiads, and sirens are an iconic image of ancient mythology and are present in nearly all cultures bordering large bodies of water. The lakes and rivers of the Americas had their own myths of water people too.  The pink freshwater dolphins of the Amazon River are believed by the indigenous people to be their kin of water and taboo to kill or eat. Many humans find the slaughter of dolphins for fishing repugnant. There are indeed fishermen with no reservations in hunting pink freshwater dolphins of the Amazon to bait their nets for giant catfish of all things.

Ancient people believed in the power of magic. Modern humans put their faith into more concrete concepts and yet millions of people visit beaches all around the coasts of America and the highlight of their day is to witness a pod of dolphins or more magically majestic a mother whale and her young calf.  A mermaid by definition is a creature half-human and half-fish and our whales’ great and small are the closest we have documented to that description. What is more compelling is our fellow water mammals have been documented showing compassion and altruistic behavior when a human was in eminent danger of a shark attack; a humpback whale interceded for the human. Compassion it seems is not entirely a human characteristic.

Conservation and compassion go hand in hand for if human beings are compelled to conserve and preserve wild lands and wetlands we must be on some level of human emotions feel compassion for creatures displaced by human encroachment. What we purchase and where we purchase products can have global ramifications to the habitat of endangered animals. Be an educated consumer and know where the wood was harvested for your new dining room furniture and whenever possible recycle and re-purpose.

Once upon a time I really enjoyed a great seafood dinner, alas allergies have curtailed that in my life and yet I know without a doubt no part of my meal involved an endangered species. While almost all restaurants I visit have a large seafood menu and many specialties of the sea it is our responsibility as diners to promote ethically caught and harvested food.  Our living mermaids are depending on us to be compassionate cousins on land.

Starry Seas image created on Fabriano Tiziano navy blue pastel paper made in Italy. Caran d’Ache Swiss made Pablo pencils with van Gogh metallic watercolors made in the Netherlands.

A 1 starfish found too - 3.9.2020

In Season

A 1 Inseason 2 2.8.20

When planning a trip it is wise to consider when high season is to establish when low season comes into swing and also when hotels and travel will be less expensive. For example peak season in Saratoga Springs in upstate New York turns a sleepy little cosmopolitan destination to a boisterous hot spot in what seems like the blink of an eye during thoroughbred horse racing season. I have personal experience when my husband and I moved from Orlando, Florida in the month of May to Saratoga Springs we were advised to secure our accommodation as quickly as possible as all open housing would be swiftly taken. Orlando was slipping into its own low season while Saratoga Springs was gearing up for the main event in July and August.

During high season finding a seat in a quality restaurant without reservations is like an amateur trying out with Olympiads for a major event and it will only result in disappointment.  You wouldn’t attend a concert or a sporting event without a ticket/reservation and the same can be said of limited seating in restaurants in the height of the season. Even on sunny Sanibel Island on the Gulf of Mexico we have high and low seasons.

We started visiting in June several years ago and we were warned about how hot Florida can be. Well here’s a news flash, Sanibel isn’t on the mainland of Florida it is an island, which as far as I have experienced wasn’t any hotter than Tidewater, Virginia or Charleston, South Carolina in the summer. What made it exceedingly fine for me and my husband was that it was low season and so we felt like we had our own little paradise where the natives were pleased to see us arrive. No lines to wait in for a seat at our favorite restaurant and no congestion on the 22 miles of paved bicycle paths. Absolute perfection, perspiration in summer is a normal bodily function, if you’re not sweating in June than you are either on the arctic tundra or you may be a walking zombie.

After all our visits to this exceptional tropical oasis, how thrilling it was when we were able to drive across the causeway not for vacation but for our new life on the Gulf of Mexico. While high season is presently in full swing here on the island and even on the mainland with plenty of visitors from colder regions we’ve learned that walking or biking to the grocery store will always be a quicker alternative to sitting in traffic. Making dinner reservations at our favorite restaurants is a breeze too; it simply means that the staff that knows us by name will have our cocktails as soon as they seat us and I couldn’t ask for more.

We have many visitors to the island at this time of year and while we may forgo the car for a stroll down the bike path for dinner out, we are also pleased to meet so many nice people who wait all year for this special time. So many of the visitors we meet were introduced to the island via their grandparents and they themselves are continuing the tradition with their own children.  Some accidents bear repeating like Roquefort cheese, tonic water, French fried potatoes, champagne and trying a new destination for vacation even if it is low season.