Sunday, June 14, 2009

Back to Normal

June has proven to be it's normal, fickle self....the sunshine left the day after my last post as the Portland area was hit with a violent thunder and lightening storm accompanied by high winds. These storms always bring back memories of my childhood days growing up on Long Island, not far from New York City, but they are not a common occurrence here in the Pacific Northwest. It was downright scary watching our large trees bend and twist in the wind, seeing branches flying through the air, and hearing the cracking of limbs. It bought the temperatures down and left a lot of debris. Anyone want to play 'Pick Up Sticks'? Luckily our grapevines had just been 'tucked' under the first row of wires so the majority of the new growth remains intact.

My weekend on the Oregon Coast, where I attended a fabulous sketch workshop, was even cooler and wetter than Portland....a typical phenomenon. The Sitka Center for Art and Ecology is truly a unique place. Located on Cascade Head, it is surrounded by lush rainforest and open meadows opening to views of both the Salmon River estuary and the wild Pacific. I stayed at a pole house right across from the cluster of buildings housing the art studios. For two days I sketched and was inspired by Ken O'Connell, a Professor from the University of Oregon, who has over 64 sketch books under his belt. His enthusiasm was catching! Aside from coming home with a filled sketchbook and new ideas, I gained a new appreciation for our natural environment and what it can offer. The beauty of a simple meadow, with long grasses and wildflowers laying over one another as deer and elk wandered through, will remain with me. I woke up to this image, for the bed was pushed up against tall windows looking out over the large meadow that came between the house and the estuary and ocean below. The house, a small cabin, had no phone, or television, or radio, or computer!

Back home, somehow refreshed and rejuvinated, I am waiting for the sun to reappear! It will.....for July is just around the corner, and that is when Oregon's Summer truly begins. I am happy for a bit of indoor time now....having a few designs to concern myself with. The clouds, with a few periods of fine drizzle, aren't hurting the garden, and actually make it easier to do some of the clean-up needed. And the Rose Festival just wouldn't be the same without a little of that
'liquid sunshine'!

I look forward to starting another sketchbook and incorporating some of what I learned into my August workshop here at Cloudrest. I have come to feel that art, in all it's forms, is an ingredient of life just as important as food and drink! It can nurture the soul, slow you down, and sustain you when life becomes too complex.

We need this in today's world. We need to go back to a simpler time when things didn't seem so frantic or hurried. As we get older .....we need to stay busy and active doing the things that truly matter to us ....and not what is expected!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

June is HOT!

For the past two weeks we've had many days with temperatures in the mid to high 80's and it's felt more like July than late Spring. It is especially unheard of to have warm, dry days during our annual Rose Festival in Portland! (our big downtown float parade is scheduled for June 6th) June is usually a transition month, with our 'real' rainless Summer starting in early July and often extending into important weather trend for anyone with a vineyard!

The high temperatures have caused an explosion of bloom and growth in the garden.....Iris, roses, peony, daisy, rhododendrons and azaleas are all at their peak....and the grass is still green from all of our earlier rain. It is truly a beautiful time in Oregon.

But it's created a lot of work. Just when I've got a full schedule of designs to work on, I'm also having to think about sprinkler systems and daily watering. ( not to mention the burst of weeds that have sprouted and need to be pulled ) The Veggie garden is taking off.....16 tomato plants, beans, cukes, squash, lettuce, basil, eggplant, kale, spinach and swiss chard.... and the grape plants are doing a lot of catching up. The vines have been sprayed with their first round of sulfur and are in the process of having the trunk suckers removed. Every day I make new discoveries walking down the vineyard rows and wandering through the garden spaces.....and it brings both inspiration and renewed energy. It's becoming harder to find places in the garden for the iris my neighbor keeps bringing me....but who can resist? The birds are also singing a virtual symphony during the early morning hours. We've discovered a wonderful Robin's nest built of grasses, twigs and lichen with three robust and hungry babies inside. It was built in a large rhododendron next to our kitchen deck making for perfect viewing. The three babies are growing fast and are having trouble fitting into the nest!

I've come to the conclusion that birds have to work a lot harder than we do when it comes to raising their young and keeping their house in order!

It's not all work and no play....this weekend I'll be heading to the Sitka Art Center on the Oregon Coast for a two day sketching workshop. I'm looking forward to being in the beautiful and rugged Cascade headlands, which juts out into the Pacific Ocean and runs along the North boundary of the Salmon River just above the town of Lincoln City. Nature is at it's best there, and should provide unlimited possibilities for sketching.

I'm wondering what the rest of the Summer will be like.....I only know that it will go by way too fast!