Tuesday, April 7, 2009

new eyes

How did this happen already? Today I have been on Peaks Island 17 years! I take anniversaries seriously, or at least give them a moment for celebration, reflection, and a deep sigh of gratitude.

Ahhhh, island life. What a trip it's been. Marty and I traveled from San Francisco via Daly City (could barely make it out of city limits on the first day of the move), Los Angeles (thanks, Ged), Quartzite, AZ, Albuquerque, NM, Oklahoma City, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Old Saybrook, CT, and then...Portland. We showed up for the very first ferry at Casco Bay Lines at 5:45 AM, but no Mayflower moving van met us. Here I am watching the ferry meet the sunrise, hoping our stuff shows up. The dog is just happy not to be crammed in the back of a '80 Subaru hatchback anymore.

Fast forward 17 years through deaths, births, transitions, houseguests, Peaksfests, and backshore bonfires.

When I welcomed an old friend recently, this blur of years came forward. Kathy Mahoney has known me longer than I've known my husband. Friends like that offer such sweet perspective.

We gave her a tour around the island, lunch, a walk on the beach, and off she went. Bon voyage, Kathy!

The best part is that I still have new eyes for this place. While the rocks and waves are eternal, new insight rolls in every day. I've begun writing regularly for the Island Times, giving me opportunity to find new angles on island living, it's makers and shakers.

I interviewed Scott Nash for a piece about the Space Gallery show, Studio Walls. He was among several artists asked to exhibit a wall of their studio. Being a successful writer and illustrator, he took this literally. Brought a 4' by 4' hunk o' wall and refigured his "writing wall" from a photograph taken before deconstruction.

I found the idea for the Space show fascinating, along with the contents of Scott's assemblage of inspirations. Turns out, the blank wall back in his studio proved too unsettling for him. He had to fill it back up. He tacked up his pile of watercolor blottings, which together formed a new backdrop, like scat singing, for his current writing project.

He's just wrapped up a book called Blue Jay the Pirate, so birds land all over the place.

And next door is another story: Nancy Gibson Nash's studio is eye-boggling.

Nancy should charge admission; some of us could just sit and gaze at her walls of "saints and sages," as she calls her environment, for hours.

Doug Smith, another illustrator on Peaks, is also an avid collector. He has framed illustrations from various time periods in the room in which he works, but all over the rest of his house are fabulous groupings of cat images, pulp novels, the above set of eyeball rings, and this cache of rusty devices.

For Doug, yard sales and heavy item pick-up days are high points of the year. Years ago, one could find eccentric items at the "Merc" (the Peaks Island Mercantile), owned by Kathleen Beecher. She single-handedly brokered many a collectible for the savvy scavengers on Peaks. I made this postcard for her. It captures her zany island attitude, in a small way.

I bought a set of polka dot teacups from Kathleen that to this day offers me inspiration. This is a detail from my pastel "When life gives you lemons."

Those cups have provided plenty of polka dot cheer for countless potlucks over the years. Thanks, Kathleen!

Peaks Island is more than home now. It's my rock. Here's to many more moons, seen rising from the backshore. Love this delicate airbrush by Marty.

Meanwhile, I'll keep my eyes peeled for fresh views, salty tides, and grace. I won't have to look far.


Nic said...

17 years WOW. Jeff and I were just talking about the birthday dinner we had right before you left

best - Nic

jamie peeps said...

We dusted off the photo album and saw the pix of when you and Jeff came to visit a few months later. Just checkin' up on us! Missing you....

kt_kthx said...

I would love to come out to Peaks on a warm day and check out all of the fun and magic!

M.A. said...

Yikes! 17 years? I guess that means we are "old friends" now! How great is that? M.A.

matirose said...

you're so awesome! congrats on 17 years. i love that photo of you waiting for the movers. i also admire your gratitude around your life so. xoxo

Anonymous said...

Jamie, what a big smile reading of your 17 years. It seems like yesterday Jill, Sean (age 4), Josh (age 1) and I came to Peaks on an incoming tide. Took us about 6 months to get everything moved but in a blink some 30+ years have flown by. I'm still seeing new things almost every day on this wonderful, magical pile of rocks. Enjoy and love your pics.


jamie peeps said...

rob, you know how the time flies!
we're lucky to be sharing this pile of rocks, aren't we?
Thanks to all for sharing with me!