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Thanksgiving, a Little Early

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

From left: Mike DiGiorgio, Jim Coe, Debby Kaspari, Cindy House, Zick, Phoebe, Shila Wilson, Brenda Carter, Linda Barth, Larry Barth. In front: Liam, Chet Baker and Barry Van Dusen. Photo by Kitchen Boy Bill.

Yes, it was some weekend. One of the best of my life. I got all my best painter/artist friends (missing only a couple) to come out here for their yearly Artists' Gathering. This get-together is held at our homes, and we pass it around. Since most of them live in and around New England, most of the Gatherings happen there. But this one would be special, and I guess the Weather Gods agreed.
It has been indescribably nasty and cold here of late--day after day of rain and wind. There has been one break in the weather, and that day was Saturday, the day everyone was here to see why we love southeast Ohio so very much. You'd swear Indigo Hill knew a bunch of landscape and bird painters were descending on her. She put on her prettiest fall dress and smiled all day long.Everyone got a load of the steep relief here, no big deal to New Englanders, but a workout nonetheless.I got to show them my beloved Chute, with fresh rain sliding over the sandstone stairs. Birds were popping out of the trees: a very late blue-headed vireo, a merlin, gobs of bluebirds and yellow-rumped warblers; even a male Cape May warbler. These people don't miss much.

I can't tell you what it meant to me to have my best and oldest friends stay here and drink in our home, our birding tower and our beloved woods. To eat at our table (fed to repletion by Chef BOTB), even sleep on our beds, couches and floors. To see our kids interact with them (more on that later). I was verklempt the entire weekend.

Usually, I go to these gatherings and hunt like a ferret for information, contacts, new colors to try, new techniques. I bring lots of stuff to show (we do show-and-tell of what we've been working on in the past year) and I stare hard at what everyone else does. This one was different. I don't know what has changed in me, but this time I spent all my time just appreciating these people who mean so much to me. Yes, I stared at their artwork, which gets more magnificent with each passing year, and got some tips and loads of inspiration. But mostly, I thought about how lucky I am to have such dear friends.Here's Bill, taking a break from kitchen patrol. He worked so hard all weekend to make sure no one wanted for anything--including breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, and digital projection capability--and to make sure I stayed out of the cookpots and just had a blast. Like anything he puts his mind to, he was hugely successful at that. Debby Kaspari looks like his little ventriloquist's doll, sitting on his shoulder, doesn't she? Hello, Bill! I'm having a wonnerful time here!

Because there was so much to look at and so many things to stop for, the hike around The Loop got a little lengthy for Phoebe and Liam. They decided to turn back and walk home by themselves--a first. Watching their little forms disappear back down Gallagher's Fork, knowing they knew their way home perfectly, and finally, at 10 and almost 7, were brave enough to act on that, filled my already overfull heart.
Phoebe said, "I was a little scared. We heard a gunshot and quickened our pace from then on."


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