Monday, March 25, 2013

currents and coves

The snow is melting and I am thinking about rivers. I once saw a scroll by Ito Jakucho, one of a small group of Japanese artists known as The Eccentrics. Fond as I am of eccentricity I would have loved him for that alone, but the scroll, Happy Improvisations on a Riverboat Journey, captivated me.

In the spring of 1767 Jakucho and his friend Daiten Kenjo, a Zen monk, journeyed down the Yodo River, from Kyoto to Osaka; along the way Jakucho sketched and Kenjo wrote poetry. Jakucho created an enormous scroll (39 feet long!) of woodblock prints (unusual at the time) and Kenjo's poetry, capturing their journey. The process of this project, the languid journey, the way it unfurls in time and space, the two companions, is so moving.

Source: via country on Pinterest

From ages 7 to 14 I lived on the Severn River in Maryland, a place of vital importance to who I am. I have a longing to see the river. So much of my adult life has been seduced by oceans, I forgot the power of rivers with their currents and coves.

Source: via country on Pinterest

Jakuto is also known for his Colorful Realm of Living Beings, thirty scroll paintings made for a monastary in Kyoto. This painting of roosters feels very modern, considering it was painted in the 18th century.

Of course, rivers are never this color (are they?), but they have riverbanks, lives built along them, unique histories, cultures. So many rivers I've never seen--the Mississippi, Amazon, Nile, Ganges. (See beautiful river pictures here) However, I do feel like I know them, from novels I've read that bring them to life. Speaking of novels, I recently finished Matterhorn, and recommend it if you think it's the kind of book you might like. Now I'm reading A Suitable Boy, and loving it.

I'm considering adjusting my lifelong fantasy of a beach house to a river house. How 'bout you--ocean, river, lake, creek?

Monday, March 18, 2013

flowers in the house

 So many years ago I loved visiting the Brooklyn Botanic Garden with my toddler son.

 He explored the trees, smelled flowers, fed ducks. 

I savored the familiar and the new among the gardens. 

The cherry blossoms were dazzling in spring, and the rose garden fragrant in summer.

I thought of that yesterday when I received this arrangement from Bow Street Flowers.
 (Thanks to my sweet husband.)

 Maybe it's the quince branches, reaching for spring. 

Or the heady mix of flowers, some sweetly familiar, some new and enchanting. 

The smell of old roses. The saucy crimson hellebore among the delicate whites.

 There is much to contemplate.

It's Flowers in the House Day, so jump over to Jane's

You'll never want to leave.

Friday, March 15, 2013


cobalt cerulean turquoise 
cornflower sapphire navy 
indigo periwinkle teal

I've gotten used to the gray greens of the New England Atlantic. The oceans of my life have always been toned down---the gray blues of the Pacific near San Francisco, the mid-blues of the Jersey shore and Fire Island. It was a shock to see the colors of the same ocean a thousand miles south, in Florida. It made me want to get out my paints and a giant canvas and explore every shade of blue for the rest of my life. It made me wish that I could paint like this artist:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

hello, nature

Bird of Paradise
Little Blue Heron

There is a resemblance, yes?
Also, the heron's beak is iridescent.

The delicate, effusive bougainvillea. 

Palmetto patterns, spikes, fronds.

All found in Florida. 

 It (nature...glorious... infinite...) makes me giddy.

(now back in grey, rainy Massachusetts)

Saturday, March 9, 2013


I escaped New England, where another 18" of snow has fallen, to Naples, Florida on the Gulf of Mexico. A different universe--sun and color. The core of old town and the beaches are beautiful, but surrounded by concrete sprawl and shopping strips that seem to reach into infinity.

 My brother-in-law Steve lives in the "rural fringe" of Naples (a legal description that is quite apt) with a 3-legged dog (and a 4-legged one) and a rescued decommissioned trolley car from Marco Island. There, amid the big trees and bright stars, I get a feel for old Florida.

Old Florida/New Florida--surreal images of Taco Bells and orchids, swamplands and golf courses, orange groves and Disneyland--fueled in my imagination by the novel Swamplandia, and those of Carl HiassenFlorida Poems by Campbell McGrath and The Orchid Thief  by Susan Orlean.

I had a Honeybell orange at Steve's, plucked from the tree, the flavor so intense, juicy and orangey. Actually not an orange, but a hybrid of a tangerine and a grapefruit. And yet so very sweet, just the perfect amount of sweetness and orangeness.

Monday, March 4, 2013

cats, books & cottages

Life imitates art.

The snow is dirty, the trees are bare, and I'm going searching for light.

 Florida, actually. I'm leaving the day after Jane returns.
I'm looking forward to sun and flowers and bright colors.

I want a pink cottage. Or maybe a white cottage with pink flowers. And a porch.

Don't worry--there's a strong screen in the window.

My winter has been filled with cats and books. If you're looking for a fun easy read, I recommend Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore. If you like mysteries featuring eccentric villagers and a kindly detective, I recommend Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series. Still Life is the first one. I'm up to the fifth and they keep getting better. They make me want a stone cottage in Quebec City or the (fictional) village of Three Pines, with plenty of hollyhocks and English roses.

What color cottage do you want?