My college writing teacher said the strongest work comes from writing about what we know. I was too nearsighted to see how unique and amazing my world was then, the cool of Portland, Oregon, before it was discovered by the rest of the world. Pre-Portlandia.
Now I know that I live in another unique and amazing place, the cool of Portland, Maine. I have lived some great places (Manhatten, Paris, DC, Yosemite, the Everglades, to name a few), but have never felt more instantly at home than when I arrived in Portland, Maine, ten years ago.
One of the few things I miss,however, besides wonderful friends and family, is a spring that arrives before June and lasts longer than two weeks. I come from a long line of scandanavians and can become grumpy without enough sunlight. In order to combat the doldrums, I try to embrace winter a little more each year. That might mean burning the beeswax candles I learned to make last week, or strapping on ice cleats or snow shoes in order to hike the local hills (foot warmers from LL Bean and hot coffee in a thermos help make that possible). Either way it helps me to push back against the dark and to see the beauty that comes only in the winter. The light here in winter has a clarity that comes only with the cold.
This painting is from a hike my family took last winter during Christmas break, when we saw these men skating on a marsh. We did not have our skates with us, but I snapped a shot of them playing hockey. I loved the contrast of the red jacket against the blue ice, white snow, and golden reeds.
I went to a wonderful show of Jessica Stammen's work in 2013. She focused on scenes from her outdoor activities. Again, I felt I had been nearsighted. Why hadn't I been incuding figures in my landscapes? I was inspired to also explore the many things I do outside all year, hiking, swimming, kayaking, sailing, etc. I was reminded again that the best work comes from what we know.