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Onward to Maine? Hurry Up and Wait

In March 2022 I returned to Florida from my two-month winter adventure in Maine, and started checking off items on my catch-up list.

But three weeks after my return, while innocently crossing the parking lot at the grocery store, I felt something pop at the back of my “good” knee. My orthopedist gave me the bad news: I had torn loose my medial meniscus root. My only guess is that it had just been hanging on by a thread. If I didn’t have it repaired, I would need a new knee inside of a year. He scheduled surgery to repair it. Argh! What a shock to my charmed life! I have run into obstacles before, but being non-weight-bearing turned out to be Full Stop for me. (Picture me bumping around backwards seated on a rolling walker for 6 weeks.) Stuck in my second-floor apartment, and having to stand on only one leg to do anything made a chore of everything and it made Joan quite the dull girl. Following that adventure, rehabilitation has felt like an eternity. I am out of the brace and have finished my work with the physical therapist, and am now working on strength and endurance, and slowly rebuilding cardio by swimming, because I am not yet walking very fast. Hopefully I soon will have a more even gait and able to stand for longer periods of time so that I can return to painting outdoors.

This drama delayed my plans. Instead of early summer, my move to Downeast Maine now will be in mid-October. I never really adapted to being laid up, staying disgruntled most of the time. I kept my dream alive by reviewing my hundreds of photos, and drooling over other artists’ rocky shoreline paintings on Instagram. Now finally, I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, able to stand for short periods, and I have started boxing things up. The first things to be packed, and happily, were my crutches, cane, walker, compression wraps, and my elevated toilet seat! Those will go in the far back corner of the basement in the duplex apartment I will be renting. And as of yesterday, except for what is actually on my walls, all of my loose paintings are carefully packed and ready for the movers, including my collection of other artists’ work. This week I hope to get started on my storage unit.

I thought I would post photos of a few studies I painted a year ago at an artists retreat hosted by Mary Erickson in Port Clyde, Maine. I have these hanging in my “visioning corner” in my dining nook along with the works in my last blog post.

Marshall Point Lighthouse, Port Clyde, Maine, 6×12
View from Eight Bells, Port Clyde, Maine, 9×12 oils
Cove at Artists Retreat, Port Clyde, Maine, 9×12 oils
Leeward Lean, Port Clyde, Maine, 6×12 oils
Pond Rocks Study, Port Clyde, Maine, 8×10 oils
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Winter in Maine: Testing My Cold-Weather Tolerance

Correction: If you are following the link in the 8/20/22 newsletter, please continue reading at Onward to Maine? Hurry Up and Wait.

Before making a firm decision to move to the Northeast to learn to paint the rocky shoreline, I decided to test my tolerance for the winter weather by living there for a couple of months. So I found a rental in South Portland, Maine, and on this past New Years Eve I started my drive north with my cat and some art supplies. For the most part my winter gear was perfect for my sightseeing and adventuring, thanks to new insulation technology. I think my coldest venturing was around 0°F, with a wind chill of 15 below. I did need to buy some different hiking shoes – “Arctic Grip” soles are a prerequisite for safely traversing trails any amount of snow or minimal ice. My “Yak-Trax” worked well for more seriously icy walks. But my fingers nearly froze during the three seconds I would unglove in order to shoot a photo with my iPhone. Chemical hand warmers inside my mittens just couldn’t re-warm my fingers fast enough. So I broke down and bought some rechargeable electric gloves — Best. Invention. Ever. for cold-weather photography. My raingear and snow pants did well to block the wind, which was fairly constant at the shore. There were some days that it might have been warm enough to paint outdoors, but hauling my gear up and down 2 flights of stairs wasn’t something I relished, so I painted from memory and from reference photos when I got back indoors.

My experience was fairly tame, since it was a mild winter in a very civilized city. There was only one true Nor’easter and just a few storms with freezing rain. I would guess around two feet of snow fell over the two months I was there but my host did all the shoveling and snow-blowing, and the city was immediate in plowing and salting the roads.

My exploring took me as far northeast as Schoodic Point, Acadia National Park, and south to Cape Ann and Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

The area around Acadia National Park has every kind and color of rock and all of the ocean drama that I want to learn to paint. Most certainly cities have more cultural opportunities and events, but for my goal of learning to paint the rocky shoreline, it is better to be closer to my subject. I can always make day trips to the art museums in Rockland, Portland, and Boston. I anticipate that I will be more inconvenienced by the winter weather than I was in South Portland and Cape Elizabeth, but I don’t think it will be unmanageable. To be frank, the tourist season may be more of an aggravation to me than the weather. A friend of mine says our lives are ruled by the availability of parking!

And now I am back in Florida, waiting for a callback from the apartment complex where I will be renting when I move to Maine. I expect to be making the move sometime around mid-summer. I will be taking my paddle board and my canoe, but I am starting to pare down my other belongings, including my piles of paintings and drawings. Stay tuned, if you are following my Facebook page — I may be posting some amazing bargains and some freebies!