Saturday, October 20, 2007


Summer Porch © 2006 Jim Minot

Sometimes in Paris the days seem so complex and complicated. Racing around my apartment, prioritizing a mental tangle of computers and committees, finances and French, schedules and Skype.

Then, sometimes, a gentle reminder crosses my path that suspends daily enervation and springs me from my urban worries. An email link arrives. I click. I take one look at this painting, and a yearning rises from deep within. A lump forms in my throat. In an instant technology evaporates, the bustle of the city recedes, and I am no longer in Paris.

I am an ocean away, on an island in Maine. I am splayed on the warm steps next to this rocking chair, soaking up the August sun. Just back from another long walk on the stone beach, I sit on the porch, lazily sorting through my trouvailles: elegant driftwood, turquoise and green sea-glass and perfect, whole sea urchin shells.

The wind sifts through the pines and ruffles the tall grass in the field. An occasional osprey cries, a lobster boat chugs by in the distance, seagulls circling hungrily. Other than that, there is no noise. No electricity to make the slightest hum.

Time stretches endlessly at this antique wood-shingled farmhouse, on a remote point of land on the island. Each minute holds hours of wonder.

My only care right now is to choose the most exquisite of the shells for the sculpture I am designing. The kids are off exploring in the woods or fields somewhere along the ancient dirt road; there are no cars or other concerns. At most we'll tend to mosquito bites or sunburned shoulders, or scratches from brambles, when they return.

They'll eventually scramble back to the house with proud discoveries and new secrets, and we'll prepare for the evening ritual. But before it's time to light the gas lamps and candles inside, we'll sit on this porch and marvel at the view as the sky turns a pale transparent lavender, a soft hue that I'm convinced exists only here.

How can I distill the air and take it with me when it comes time to leave this place? A soothing fragrance of deep pine and salt blended with the subtlest distant hint of ripening raspberries. I'll simply absorb all I can to carry it within me when I go.

Until then, I am sitting on this porch, on an island in Maine, and I don't want to be any other place in the world.
Watercolors by Jim Minot,

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