Mid-August brings blackberries, hanging fruit and puffs of dust as our sandal clad feet catch the spots where grass has given way to daily meanderings. The farm geese play watch dog and the cows search for shade under a large maple. As we find our way up on the large porch, floor planks register the weight of our human presence.
The main part of the house is about 125 years old. It is the oldest dwelling remaining on Saturna Island off the southwest coast of Canada. My eldest grandson and I are staying four nights at the Breezy Bay Bed and Breakfast on a co-operative farm. Our hosts, Erin and Jamie, appear to be in their early thirties and are youngsters amongst the mostly graying heads of about 300 full-time inhabitants. This our third summer visit to the Saturna Island. We have come to revisit favourite places and to simply be together in a home-away-from-home.
We slip our shoes off at the door and pad into our introduction of the polished patina of a place that bridges the past and present with grace and warmth equal to that of its caregiver. The library up stairs is just off our bedroom and its books seem oblivious to the “hotspot” it offers for a wifi connection.
The working country kitchen though is where I can truly feel my shoulders relax. This a home. It is our home for the next four days. We can do this. This could by my grandmother’s kitchen. This can be a place where memories last.
The breakfast room confirms my observations about rendering memories.
When on the last day we leave this room filled on all-you-can-eat crepes, my grandson quietly comments – I am going to miss these guys.
And indeed we will. For though this is the first time we have stayed in this particular place on Saturna Island, Erin and Jamie have a way of making us feel like we are family. For reasons beyond both my grandson’s and my control, we must make a-home-away-from-home, or at least away from my home. Though this is often a raw emotional place of frustration and loss for me, I have come to accept that, for now, there is no other choice. We must rely on others to create the intimacy of home for our vacation time together. In this respect, we have been lucky and this year has been extra special, a healing suave on my unfulfillable expectations.
I want to embed my memories for long-term retrieval and one way to this is to do quick painting sketches. So as the smell of banana bread warms the morning sun I find a spot to set up on the porch looking out towards Boot Cove.
The plein air painting isn’t exactly what I want for composition but it will do. I have the energy and of the moment. It is all I need for now.
BREEZY BAY BANANA BREAD MORNING – 8 x 10 inch plein air acrylic painting sketch
A week later, back in the studio I decide on a 36 x 36 inch canvas that has a lemon yellow ground and set to work on a large oil painting.
I wanted space to walk into the painting by leaving ample room on the deck. I liked the idea of creating this kind of depth using the square canvas. It is intriguing to me how we can visually create this illusion on a flat surface. But it is not the only illusion is it? There is also the illusion that this is the life we seek – the life we deserve for our hard work. I will probably always think of this painting as “the myth of capitalism.” There is a luxury of time we have been conditions to strive and put in front for our paid labour. We will someday get to sit on a deck like this as a reward. This is not why I painted this but rather it is an after thought – one that curiously lessens my loss for my first choice which would have been to have my grandson with me at home while making my own banana bread and sitting on my own porch. I remind myself to count my blessings instead of bemoaning my inability to reach an ideal.
The painting is now finished.
It is released for sale over on my website at “New Painting Squared with a Breezy Bay Morning on Saturna Island.”
What blessings have you recently noticed in the midst of reflecting on deeply felt loss?
© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.
Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.
Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch
From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada
For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com