For a long time now (28 years to be exact), I've felt that coming back to Maine is coming home. But for that to happen, I must first go away. Paraphrasing the poet Bob Hicok, I remember Kentucky fondly as the place I go to be in Kentucky. While there, I stay with my longtime friends Deb and Ed Galloway in Shelbyville. Earlier this month, they welcomed me back to Farm Dover where I am given the run of their 35 acres and allowed to spend nearly the whole time painting in a self-directed independent residency. It was a mostly rainy time, but that didn't stop me from exploring the woodland paths and setting up on the back porch to paint. In that short week, I generated enough sketches and photographic documentation to see me through the winter painting months here in Lincolnville, at least until mud season.
Should I also mention that while in Shelbyville I am well-fed, and that I spend a good amount of time reading Wendell Berry's stories about the fictitious town of Port William? This trip, I discovered his early novel, A Place on Earth. My personal train of thought echoes Port William member Mat Feltner's words: "I'm a great one for places. This farm's just full of places I've picked out that would be good to spend a day sitting in, if I ever had time to do it. Cool places or quiet ones, with water running or a long view. I've thought of some of them nearly all my life."
I've picked out some places too. The bottomland on my grandfather's farm is repeated in Port William and at Farm Dover; the long views toward the rise of a hill, repeated in the view toward Mr. McCoun's fields that neighbor Farm Dover; and though I grew up in Lexington, not on a farm, a dirt road up to a farm house has repeated itself throughout my life, and reminds again with every return to Lincolnville.
This blog post first appeared in my newsletter for November 2018.