Monday, August 20, 2012

The Essence of Summer

Nasturtiums and Cherries, Sebasco, Maine
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 2011
*week # 27

Nasturtiums, cherries, and moist ocean breezes speak of summer. The painting, Nasturtiums and Cherries, was painted by James last summer on a trip to Maine to visit friends in Sebasco. Today feels much the same as I remember that day a year ago.
The Mid-Coast area of Maine is remarkable and has enchanted artists for decades. Countless artists like John Marin, Edward Hopper, Marsden Hartley have found their way up the coast of Maine to capture the raw beauty and life on these rocky peninsulas that into the sea. James found the same thrilling visual attraction to this stunningly rugged place.

James and I spent many summers on the coast of Maine what remains from our experience is a strong connection between time and place. This is where that memory thing 'mnemonics' comes forth connects summer to Maine.
When I look at this painting done at Sebasco it is the sound of the gong buoy I remember.The clarity of blue sky and flowers swaying in the salty breeze and nasturtiums stretched out across the stone walkway with their orange flowers held proud,the smell lobsters steaming and a neighbor appearing a huge bucket of peonies for our table are all vivid images I keep.

Summer memories are found here in our garden where certain flowers whether by color or fragrance, tell us it is summer. Pansies shout out when spring has arrived. Nasturtiums appear as we roll into mid summer and will stay until they have all been cut for vases, salads, as objects for paintings... or until the first frost claims them.
We have tall phlox in our garden that came from our decade ago garden in Maine. The phlox came to our New Hampshire garden, by way of Maine, a gift from my gardening mentor Julia Martin. There are several plants in our garden that were gifts from friends or in some cases that came from a special place, each recalls that place or person as they hold a unique spot in our garden.

The Tomato, an icon of summer.

Garden tomatoes and fresh basil with olive oil from Panicale.
Believe me, nothing is better! One worry though, our can of Panicale olive oil is nearly empty....could that mean it is time to go back to replenish our supply?

There are always tomatoes in the garden, Red Brandywine, Yellow Brandywine, San Marzano, and Sun Gold are just some of the varieties we grow. By the middle of August we are gathering tomatoes daily. The routine of making tomato sandwiches, BLT's, panzanella salad, and tomato bisque is well under way.
There are pots tomato sauce on the stove as the kitchen fills with wafting aroma of tomatoes simmering.

Our year round friend and summer neighbor Judith makes a knockout tomato salad which we adore. It is heaped full with chunks of avocado, blue cheese, scallions and wedges of ripe tomatoes in a perfect classic vinaigrette. It is all about the quality and balance of ingredients.
A salad that says, " it must be August," in a big and flavorful way!

James is in the kitchen right now.... he should be at his easel......but the lure of ripe Roma tomatoes and a bounty of fresh herbs has taken him into the kitchen to roast .

There are times during our short New England summer when it is difficult to sit still; there are the flowers in need of attention, the tomatoes calling to be brought into the kitchen, and the sunlight that beckons us out the door.
Road trips for seaside lunches are a must. Then there are the visits to farmer's markets, we went to one last weekend that sells heirloom Berkshire pork as well guinea hens
(a reminder of what we cook in Italy). I can't forget the frequent trips to Lull Farm to fill bags with sweet corn, cherries, peaches and to eat a freshly picked plum, immediately!

The season's finest combined in all the images, aromas, tastes, people and places
that get stored in our memories as

Right now....the aroma of roasting tomatoes and herbs has made it's way out of the kitchen and into my studio. Now my only thought is "what's for dinner?"

*The painting, Nasturtiums and Cherries, Sebasco, Maine, by James Aponovich
was done as part of his year long project Aponovich 52.
It was painted for week #27.

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