Missing the Cabin

When I am in the city too long and the spring never really comes and May feels and looks like November, I start dreaming about the fields, meadows, mountains, and notches between the mountains in the Northern Catskills.

I miss the mountain air, the smell of the dirt, and peeking under last year’s leaves to see which of my perennials may have made it through winter.

We rent, don’t own, our cabin in the Catskills, and work is being done on the land around the house. The steady rain has made the work harder to do and more destructive of the land. John and I probably won’t get to see what the place looks like for another three weeks.

Meanwhile, in midtown Manhattan, our small apartment on the second floor is dark, and I am waiting for a reprieve–from the dark, from the damp cold, from the confinement in 560 square feet.

I’ve been cooped up for too long. I need to look out without thought on a far-reaching expanse. I need to wake up in a quieter place where the birds congregate and sing. I need to go to bed after hearing the spring peepers perform their sweet-eerie calls.

Patience. Patience. Joan. When will you ever learn.

Blue Day


Bather. 1935. Oil on Canvas. Private Collection.

Oliver’s been extra antsy today. He can’t get enough play, treats, socks, or balls. And he won’t leave me alone when I try to be quiet and read or write or just scribble and ponder.

The weather’s dark, rainy, and indistinct. I waited until the late afternoon to go out, and I didn’t stay in the open air long, even though it’s warm (50ish degrees) and soft on the skin. The rain was almost gone by the time I emerged with Oliver on the street.

The lack of light and contrast between light and dark gets to me. I become blue and unsure of myself and my path. I worked on a haiku about a homeless man, which didn’t make me feel any better.

On a day like today, the best thing for me would be to go look at paintings by a great colorist like Bonnard, whose settings and colors and women and dogs make me endlessly hungry for more life and more color.

I loved Bonnard before I had a dog. This is probably why I never noticed the dogs in his paintings or knew that he had done quite a few paintings of dogs, including poodles and greyhounds. Once I got Oliver, all images of dogs intrigued me, so I was particularly happy that Bonnard had rendered them in his own unique way with his paint brush.

Here are just a few of the Bonnard paintings I love. They cheer me up for some reason. If you’re feeling blue too, I hope they make you feel better.

Two Poodles. 1891. Oil on Canvas. Southhampton City Art Gallery.

The Red-Checkered Tablecloth. 1910. Oil on Canvas. Private Collection.