Tag Archives: Argentina

Walking in the World

White Point sign

BY KIMBERLY MAYER

There are people in our lives who have an influence they’d never know. My parents instilled a love for Cape Cod that we find in many ways living here on San Juan Island in Washington. The friend in California who suggested a year or so ago that I rein in this blog to a remodeling theme: remodeling a house, remodeling a life—the same thing, in my book. Our daughter, now living in Argentina, who upon visiting before her departure grew my daily walk by a beautiful mile or two. And in sending me a video of the works of sculptor Anthony Howe on neighboring Orcas Island, my cousin in Atlanta reminding me to stay with art every day. And to try not to stray.

They are all part and parcel of who I am, why I’m here, and how I see it.

“Walking the loop” began as a tradition while living on upper Queen Anne in Seattle and continues out here today. That first loop took me around the perimeter of the hill, overlooking the Space Needle and downtown Seattle, Lake Union, and Puget Sound. Today’s loop takes me alongside Westcott Bay, and through the red, white and blue nostalgic quality of Roche Harbor Resort where everyone looks good in the light. Finally, the road meanders through an old growth forest of cedar, fir, and pine where everything grows dark and green, and back to my home on the bay.

Where the road dips down to the shoreline I experience what I call a Cape Cod moment, framed by flatlands, grasses, marshes, and horizon. In the course of this walk I may pass only one or two cars on the road, a few more in summer, on an island where every driver waves.

This is the walk my daughter grew, taking it out on a point to new terrain, the posh end of White Point Road. Here I pass tennis courts where nobody’s playing, a pond with a dock establishing someone’s swimming hole, and a private golf course back in there somewhere, for I’ve seen it from the water. Horse fencing and regally high pampas grasses standing like sentry guide the way. Crushed white shells underfoot line the one-lane road at sea level. It’s as private as private can be, except for me, out on this point.

Here I gape at houses, something that seems to be my lot in life: the desire to see myself in other spaces, other places. On walks I finish unfinished houses in my mind, or tear them down and start again. As anyone in the field knows, design is never done. When the bones are good, I may mentally repaint it, or envision it clad in cedar shingles, dark, red, natural or a weathered gray.

At home, the short video on the kinetic sculpture of Anthony Howe awaits me. It’s mesmerizing. How did my cousin know to send this now? I needed it. Isn’t art what ultimately pulls us through? All the arts, always. And art as balm, particularly in troubling times. Which is where we are today.

“After reading the newspaper on Sunday, I sit quietly and simply look at art books.” Michael Graves

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Rock-Paper-Scissors

Rocks. They sit here so patiently on my writing table. I don’t know where it all began, but by now it is a collection from various places I have been and loved (where I have left a part of me). A rock is a piece of the place, or the experience, that I can bring home with me. And the memory contained in each one speaks volumes.

One rock I picked up in Argentina. We were leaving a winery in Mendoza and stones such as this were shimmering on either side of the road, so I asked the driver to please pull over. One of them is with me now.

Another rock is from a spa where, in the course of a Native American Hot Rock Treatment, I learned that rocks are alive, and wise, having been here longer than anything else on earth. I slipped one into my robe when the massage therapist went out of the room. That treatment had given me an idea for a scene in the novel I was working on, and it would help to write it if I could hold the stone. Those hot rocks gave me the scene.

During a visit to The Mount, Edith Wharton’s estate in Lenox, Massachusetts, I picked up two lovely rocks that today sit one upon the other, stacked like a cairn, on my writing table. I imagine that they were there in her day too, when she strolled the gardens before slipping back into her writing room. I also like to think that some of Ms. Wharton’s magic might rub off.

In the summer I pick up rocks in The San Juan Islands the way I used to search for shells on other shores. In the Pacific Northwest it is all about rocks and logs. Which brings me to paper….

I am a paper person and can’t remember ever being without it in one form or another, be it sketchbook, notebook, journal, index cards, or a roll of plain white shelf paper. One of the most creative things my mother did was supply us with shelf paper when we were young, which we would roll out before us on the rec room floor. Lying on our stomachs, propped up on elbows, our crayons spread across the linoleum, we drew like this for hours.  Shelf paper had it all over coloring books. No one had to stay between the lines because there were no lines. And we drew as we thought, not in frames, but in streams of consciousness, as in dreams and movies.

Such are my earliest paper memories. So it came as a shock of late when, after being outfitted for hearing aids, my biggest complaint, the noise most annoying, was the sound of paper! What I had always known as silent and contemplative turned into crackling thunder when papers were rustled or turned. I made an appointment and had the volume turned down. Accustomed to my quiet time, I had grown quite fond of it, especially when writing. Just ask the rocks.

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