Friday, November 30, 2018

My Love of Landscape - Part 10

Part 10 of My Love of Landscape:  Exploring the Maine and New Brunswick Coast

Sunrise at Campobello 12x14 Oil - Available
President Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt's Cottage

I know I claimed my previous entry of "My Love of Landscape" would be my last, but enough readers seemed to enjoy the tale that I've decided to resume it, though not, perhaps, with such regularity.  Here, then is the next installment of the serial.

As much as we enjoyed New Mexico, we still had a hunger for the landscapes back east, especially along the coast.  At the 7000-foot elevation of our home, summers were pleasant enough.  Although the sun could be intense and warm, the shade of a ponderosa pine was like natural air-conditioning, and nights cooled down quickly.  Also, I enjoyed the summer monsoon storms—great, billowing thunderheads that always delivered drama—but there weren't any bodies of water nearby to enjoy, and we missed that.  We had a so-called river, the Sacramento, but it was an unreliable thread of water that came and went, depending on storms.

McCurdy Smoke House complex in Lubec

Lubec's fishing fleet

We still had family in Vermont, so on one of our visits, we continued on up to Maine.  We'd been to the coast there many times over the years, but now we went with an eye toward real estate.  We avoided Bar Harbor and points south.  Although an artist might easily find more patrons in those populous areas, that crush of population was exactly what drove us to Downeast Maine, where the population of Washington County is a scant 32,000.  We explored several locations, but we loved most Lubec, the eastern-most point in the U.S.  This small fishing community has a year-round population of around 1300, increased only slightly by summer residents and tourists.  For me as a painter, I fell in love with its historic waterfront and homes and also nearby Quoddy Head State Park, which features tremendous black cliffs, thunderous waves during storms and trails that provide many scenic opportunities for the painter.  (By the way, I'm leading a painting retreat this August in Lubec; for a detailed PDF, click here.)

View of Quoddy Head (and Trina and Saba)...

...Looking at this very paintable view

But then we re-discovered Campobello Island.

If you're over a certain age, you'll remember that Campobello Island, in New Brunswick, Canada, was the vacation home of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt for many years.  It was made famous by "Sunrise at Campobello," a movie about the Roosevelts, based on a play of the same name, that came out in 1960.  We didn't go to Campobello because of that, as I believe I was hardly aware of the history.  We went because it has not one but two large parks, which are threaded with many trails that lead to beautiful natural areas.  Also, it is connected by a bridge to Lubec, and it's an easy border crossing.

You can walk this beach on Campobello for a very long distance

I say "re-discovered," because we'd been there once before and had hiked one of the longest trails in the Roosevelt-Campobello International Park, out to lonely, rugged Liberty Point and back.  But we'd forgotten how beautiful the island is:  bogs with twisted little fir trees and pitcher plants, freshwater ponds fenced in by thickets of spruce, woodland trails that suddenly thrust one out onto a rocky perch dozens of feet above the sea, and beaches, beaches that are empty in what would be the busiest summer weekend down in Acadia National Park, just three hours away.  Beaches that are tiled with cobblestones as different as snowflakes.  Beaches, where at low tide, you can walk to many wild places.

Our Campobello house during repairs...

...and after.  Saba supervises from the porch.

Later, when three acres of oceanfront property with an 1867 Cape went up for sale at a very reasonable price, we bought it.  (We purchased it as a "life estate," and it was owned by another artist, which sealed the deal.) That summer, we arrived on the island from New Mexico and spent the season doing house repairs and exploring the island and the parks.  (The second is the Herring Cove Provincial Park.)  I don't recall painting the landscape that summer, probably because we had plenty of projects to make the house ours.  It became a lovely home, and we truly wished we could stay longer, but of course, not being Canadian, we had to return to the U.S. at the season's end.

But while back in New Mexico for the winter, a thought occurred to us:  Could we possibly get a work permit and stay on Campobello longer?  Wouldn't it be nice to stay...all year?

(to be continued)

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