Returning home after my journey along Maine’s rugged coast, I settled into the business of preparing for winter in my Catskill mountain home, which means getting wood, stacking it, and hauling it indoors. It is a task I have come to accept as ritual. Once the wood heat ambles its way through the house, there is no other source of warmth that equals it in comfort and a sense of calm. So, settle in I have done, and continue to do, for I treat my home as a living, breathing organism. I give thanks every day that I have this small, unique 1880s farmhouse.
The photography projects I had on the back burner while in Maine were, of course, waiting for me. One is a year-long Art + Wine Celebration sponsored by Hudson Valley Wine Magazine www.hudsonvalleyartandwine.com. Nineteen Hudson Valley artists have been paired with twelve specific wineries in our region to create, in whatever medium is theirs, two works for a grand gala in May 2011. The Brotherhood Winery and Vineyard is my partner in this endeavor and I consider myself very fortunate. Not only is Brotherhood the oldest winery in the United States with its ‘otherworldly’ cellars that date back to the 1800s, but its vineyards overlook the Catskill Mountains and Hudson River – views considered by many to be unequaled.
It rained steadily for what seemed more than a week after my arrival home. I finally took to the road on a drizzly morning and drove to Columbia County with the promise that the clouds would depart and allow some rays of sun to spread across our landscape and into our bones. Just as clouds were abandoning their seemingly relentless grip on our sky, wind gusts of more than thirty miles per hour accompanied the changing weather. This “collaboration” created amazing hues, shadows, and drama, especially on one of Columbia County’s rolling hillsides. Color, no color. Existing one moment; changing the next.
I drove towards the Vineyard through this convergence of light, shadows, and changing color but when I arrived, the Catskill Mountains remained overcast. However, while I hoped for sun and the surprise of an unknown drama, I could not resist this gossamer view.
At the top of the Vineyard is a meadow. In that meadow stand two willow trees. This meadow is one that Frederic Church painted from the south lawn of his home, Olana. The angle at which my camera was focused shows young Riesling vines and their remaining leaves concede to the wind’s force. The wind was strong enough so that it was difficult to hold on to my camera. And, a tripod would have been swept away. I was firm in my resolve though to capture, albeit from the opposite perspective of Church’s paintings, the two willows and some of the tender vines. And, forgive me, but I could not resist the title …
I turned around to find that the conspiracy of the week’s endless rain, the day’s forceful wind, and the persistent sun punching through the clouds, brought a peak of autumnal color to our mountains. These are views of our “blue” Catskill mountains with their soft, sensuous Rubenesque shapes reaching as far as Ulster County, twenty or thirty miles away, perhaps more.
I began my day in gray drizzle with almost a monochromatic landscape. It concluded with the sun clearing out the dark shades and shadows that prevailed all week, exposing the culmination of nature at work: autumn in the Hudson Valley.
More to come.