For the past few years, I’ve been spending some time in Cape Ann, a rocky area of northeastern Massachusetts. Cape Ann includes Gloucester, Rockport, Essex and Manchester-by-the-Sea. Gloucester is home to one of the oldest artist colonies in the United States. Rocky Neck Art Colony is located on a peninsula within Gloucester’s working harbor.
The artist colony has become my favorite place to visit. I usually visit in late October, during the week when most of the galleries and shops are closed. Void of tourists, the little colony is quite deserted, except for the folks who live there.
I walk the main street and venture off into the little alleys, exploring with camera in hand. Most of the little houses and galleries are painted in a rainbow of colors. Creativity and imagination is everywhere I walk. I can imagine living here, especially in the winter. Snug inside a little house, writing at a table overlooking the harbor. Reading in a comfy chair, isolated from the world.
Autumn is my favorite time of year. I love the fresh, crisp air of the days and the coolness of the nights. The beauty of the changing foliage is as bold as an artist’s palette. Going to farmers markets overflowing with winter squash, gourds and pumpkins. Drinking cider and enjoying homemade apple pie. Pulling on sweaters and woolen socks and snuggling under the warmth of quilts at bedtime. Before long, my world will be covered in frost and snow and autumn will be but a distant memory.
I sit at my computer, editing my daughter’s wedding photos, going over each image with the same care and expertise that I always took with my other clients. Only this time the beautiful girl staring back at me is my daughter and the confident young man is now my son-in-law.
My daughter looks so radiant. There is a glow coming from inside her. She looks so happy. It’s her wedding day and each moment is becoming a treasured memory.
Wedding vows were exchanged by the ocean, a spot close to where my daughter and I scattered mom’s ashes five years ago. A party followed back at the house, outside under the trees. Streamers and paper bells hung from a giant oak tree with wide spreading branches. Underneath, guests talked, drank and ate. The blue and white streamers and white paper bells moved to the rhythm of a gentle summer breeze.
Stars came out, folks started to make their way home and the day eventually came to an end. My husband turned to me with tears in his eyes. He couldn’t believe how wonderful the day had been. He had worked so hard setting everything up, plus cooking all the food. I did the shopping and he put it all together. We were a team and a tired one at that.
My daughter, Morgan and her new husband, Vlad left the next morning. May they live happily ever after.
I love looking at doorways, gardens and patios. I especially love walking city streets when it’s dark and staring up at lighted windows, trying to catch glimpses of plants and decorations. Now let me explain:
I grew up as an only child of older working parents. I had plenty of make-believe friends and my imagination could take me anywhere my heart desired. My most favorite thing to do in the world was to read books. I could spend the whole day curled up with a book. My next favorite thing to do was to go through my mother’s old magazines. My parents moved a lot and they were always restoring and decorating some old house. My mother would collect magazines that were full of homes and gardens, plus decorating ideas. When she tired of a magazine she would pass it on to me. I would cut out homes, redone rooms and an assortment of pretty things to put in a house. My house to be exact. I would arrange my cutouts on the floor creating the perfect home. I lived in my head and had no problem spending the afternoon living in those paper homes.
I still live in my head and love to read books. I don’t have imaginary friends anymore. Instead, I have a camera that I try to carry at all times. I was out walking very early this morning by Portsmouth Harbor, when I decided to go into town. I walked downtown, along some of the narrow streets where a lot of the old houses have been turned into condos. Very expensive condos in old houses with small fenced in backyards and cute balconies.
An old house that I particularly love, has been turned into loft condos. There is one that has the cutest little fenced-in front yard. It has a wrought iron gate that opens onto the sidewalk. A stoned walkway leads up to the front door, which is made of beautiful heavy wood and stained glass. An assortment of potted plants and flowers fill the little yard. I always linger by this gate, wondering who lives there and what it looks like inside. This morning, I got a peek.
The door was open and I could see the front room that opened right into the kitchen. Plants hung everywhere and bookshelves lined the walls. I could see a spiral staircase that must lead upstairs. I could see a kitchen at the end. Gorgeous stainless steel appliances under soft lighting. I could hear music in the background. At the sink stood a woman. Her back was to me. I step to the side and snuck another glance. How I wanted to stay and stare. This place looked like it could be in a magazine. But it wasn’t a magazine and I had stayed too long.
When I rounded the corner, I was rewarded with the perfect picture. In another old house, a gray cat was sitting in the window. The curtains were closed, but the cat was lying outside them next to the window pane. I climbed a narrow stone stairway to get as close to the window as possible. I took a few shots and I told myself that it’s alright because the curtains are closed. It was still early and nobody walked by me perched up there snapping away at somebody’s window.
What’s the point to this little story? There is none. It was just nice to be out early in the morning discovering things that you don’t get to see later on in the day. Plus, I didn’t even have to explain to a cop why I was peeking in somebody’s window.
I took a walk out to my little gray cove this morning. It was misting and the fog still hung low out past the rocks. I could hear the foghorn moaning in the distance and the smell of salt water was especially strong in the early dampness. The isolated beauty of this remote place never ceases to amaze me. I ask my mother if she sees the wonder of this rocky beach? Does she hear the cries of the gulls and the foghorn’s lonely warning to passing boats. Can she smell the salty dampness in the air? I can’t hear my mother’s answers, I can only imagine them. I wonder if particles of her ashes still remain in the cove, or did the outgoing tides carrying them all away? I ask the incoming tides to bring some of her back.
I spend a lot of time exploring, sitting and just thinking in a remote area on the New Hampshire coastline. It’s one of the inlets off the road that runs along the ocean. It’s an isolated, rocky spot that holds an amazing amount of interest to me and obviously to many others. For the last three or so years, starting in spring, rock art appears. Rock sculptures would take shape here and there at the far end of the inlet near a large formation of rocks. Rocks would be placed on top of each other creating statues. Some would be adorned with drift wood and seaweed. Each year the sculptures multiplied. By the end of the summer you could hardly find room to maneuver around them. The rock art stayed put until the winter storms knocked most of them down.
I thought it might be a group of locals living nearby that created this magic each year. Turning this isolated spot by the ocean into a mystical, Druid-like setting. What messages lay hidden in the creations?
Last Saturday, I finally got an answer. I happened out there very early and saw a man placing rocks on top of each other. I ventured out and introduced myself. It seems that he has been coming out almost every Saturday to add to the exhibit. He is not local and drives a distance. He told me that there are others who just come out and add to the arrangements. It was nothing mystical, just something that folks liked to do.
Since then I’ve read that there is an island off the Maine coast where rock sculptures mysteriously appear during the summer months. I think that it’s just amazing that people come and go, adding on to each other’s creative works. I imagine that there are lots of similar places throughout the world. Places where people take the time to create and not destroy.