… in the good ol’ Summertime.
During this last decade, walking and blogging have become a huge part of my life, effectively crowding out my former hobbies of reading and gardening. And, though I no longer keep a fast pace turning those literary pages, I continue to buy books, despite the fact there are plenty of unread pocketbooks purchased long ago and languishing in cupboards and drawers upstairs and in Rubbermaid tubs downstairs. They await my highly anticipated “golden years” – sigh. I’ve already begun to think of the hobbies I will revel in when I have endless hours to myself and, as you know from this recent blog post, I hope to take charcoal and pastel crayons to paper, plus dabble a little in paint as part of that R&R.
“There is no friend as loyal as a book.” – Ernest Hemingway
Just like the quotation above, being an only child, I learned at an early age how to self-entertain and reading books was a perfect means to do this.
I was an avid reader from the time I was a tyke and attribute that to my parents. I had a wicker basket filled with Little Golden Books that I read and reread and had memorized long before I started kindergarten. After starting school, on weeknights, after dinner and dishes were done, while I did my homework at the kitchen table, my parents pored over the pages of The Toronto Star and Oakville Beaver newspapers. I don’t recall them watching the nightly news on TV, but instead preferring to absorb the local, national and worldwide news events on those printed pages.
Likewise, on the weekend, for their down time, they had few favorite TV shows, but were most likely to be reading a book or a magazine. I would similarly have my nose stuck in the latest book in The Bobbsey Twins or Anne of Green Gables series. Life was good and simple back then.
I don’t recall much about visiting the library as a youngster before we moved here from Canada in July of 1966. But in middle school, because we did not have a set of encyclopedias at home, any book report research necessitated a trip to the local library.
Many evenings in my tweens and teens, would find me compiling facts and figures for term papers. My father drove me to the library after dinner was done, where soon he would be dozing in one of the comfy brown leather chairs, while I fed dimes to the copy machine, thus enabling some of my research efforts to be taken home. Once I recall he awoke with a start and called out “Linda, aren’t you done finding out about the Baobab trees and the African Hottentots yet?” (Why do I remember such trivial things … but I digress.)
Schoolkids today have it easy, with Google at their fingertips, a mere mouse click away. No trips up and down the library aisles, searching the many shelves for some obscure book. The kindly Mr. Schaefer, our head librarian during my school years, was a stickler for youngsters understanding the library, i.e. he would never assist you to locate a book, until he was assured you understood the Dewey Decimal System and likewise perused the card catalog before asking his assistance.
While I gathered facts and figures for a book report or term paper, within earshot was Miss Montie, the children’s’ librarian, conducting “Storytime” while sitting at eye level with a group of children, similarly parked on squat stools while she read to them. How fun! I wished I could join them as I heard oohs, aahs and giggles erupt as Miss Montie moderated her voice while she paged through the featured children’s book. She was so animated, often flailing her arms around to act out a particular character’s actions and adapting her voice to theirs. She really got into those reading sessions, so much so, that she’d have to hastily grab the woolen shawl which perpetually adorned her shoulders and would slip off during these animated readings.. Suffice it to say the children were mesmerized by Miss Montie’s storytelling. These were good times, even though I only vicariously enjoyed them while researching about those Hottentots in their huts.
You’re probably wondering why I stirred the memory pot in this post … after all, it isn’t end-of-school time, nor back-to-school time either. Hmm.
So here’s the backstory for today’s blog post.
I was strolling along the Dingell Park boardwalk at the Detroit River back on Friday, June 17th. Besides enjoying the breeze off the water, I was taking photos of the usual waterfront happenings and resident waterfowl. As I returned to the parking lot to drive home, I saw some activity at the pavilion area and, of course, Your Roving Reporter had to check it out.
I learned that the Ecorse Public Library was conducting its own Storytime at 10:00 a.m. under the pavilion. I met the four library staff members: Alice, Madison, Katie and Oliver and, while I regaled them with my memories of Miss Montie and her Storytime sessions, Madison, who is also an artist, was busy creating chalk art drawings to match the fish theme for that day’s reading.
Regrettably I had to leave, or risk being late for work, but that evening I checked out the Library’s Facebook site to see how the event went. Scrolling down, a colorful image entitled “Watercolors by the Water” and its description of “colorful and creative fun” drew me like a magnet; could this be the first stepping stone to joining the plein air painting group in the future? I hopped onto Amazon and ordered some watercolor painting supplies for the event.
The following Friday found me once again strolling the boardwalk after walking four miles at Council Point Park. Alice and Madison were ready for their encore performances, as reader and artist respectively, but this Storytime featured dinosaurs. Chalk art lovers will like these fierce dinosaurs and dinosaur eggs. Madison is posing with dino hand puppets.
I asked Madison if she was teaching the watercolors class – she said “yes” and I told her I had ordered supplies and registered and I was told supplies would be provided and snacks as well.
Watercolors by the Water.
On Saturday, June 9th I arrived early at Dingell Park to get a parking spot and take a few photos of the riverfront scene our group would be painting. It was a picture-perfect day, albeit windy – winds were gusting at 18 mph.
You can see the high winds a’blowin’ in these shots …
… and rippling waves in these photos.
Alice, Madison and a few City employees struggled against those wind gusts to put up a large canopy, then chairs were readied and two tables stocked with watercolor supplies.
Madison, who is a real artist, is also the Ecorse Public Library’s Marketing Coordinator and doubles as one of the library clerks. She showed us a sample watercolor painting and set the stage for what we would be doing as seen below.
The class was about 90 minutes long and during that time, Madison and Alice checked out each of our work-in-progress paintings.
Dingell Park was a happenin’ place. Besides people enjoying the stellar weather at this park, a huge freighter passed by …
… and look at this Tiki boat drifting down the center of the Detroit River. I told the group I had to take some pictures of that boat, the first sighting of its kind for me.
All too soon the class was over and I was the last one finishing up (thanks to those pesky railings – grrr). The wind helped dry the paint very quickly and my painting was done and ready to initial five minutes after the last brush stroke of green for the grassy area near the boardwalk.
Here is my finished painting, a little abstract and heavy-handed on the colors, but next time I vow to do better.
I will be sure to try another one of Madison’s classes, especially if it is in the Summer months.