The dulled palette of rust and browns that frame the steel blue waters of the Hudson River, on this sunny wintry morning in December, stands as a stark contrast from the brilliant shades of greens, accented with reds and yellows, that border the turquoise waters of Salvador’s Espirito dos Santos Bay. An even more striking contrast is in the layers of black clothing I am now wrapped in, to withstand the cooler climate of the Hudson Valley, versus the bright turquoise or blue-violet that floated lightly around my suntanned body in the summer’s heat of Brazil. Though these visual and physical contrasts are evident in everyway, my sense of being at peace in either is consistently the same. Snatched from one or the other, my equilibrium remains balanced, because of an abiding appreciation that, what is, IS.
To rail against one is to not fully appreciate the other. In many ways this contrast in the lifestyles, whether laying on the beaches of the Salvador Bay or chugging along the train route on the Hudson River, represents a view of a singular life. Life here allows for the luxury of detachment there, just as, my exposure there provides a more encompassing perspective here. Simple things like, an inarticulation of portuguese there, forges a stronger grasp of my native tongue here. A natural sense of community there, causes me to reach out to friends and family here. Relaxing there makes me want to work here.
Living on the outskirts of our small hamlet of Claverack, we are blessed with a slower pace than the city - one that reflects the rhythms of the seasons and the movements of nature’s creatures - in a way that many can only imagine. Yet, our excursion to Imbassai, a coastal community, under two hours north of Salvador, showed us a pace of life that I could have only imagined.
To begin with, there are no public conveyances, except for an “autobus” that delivers you, to and from the city. There are no paved roads, only the lushness of rich red dirt that squeezes between your toes - if, of course, you decide not to wear the ubiquitous “sandales”. People walk everywhere, to the market, the restaurants, schools and pharmacy, the beach and to visit one another. “Motos”, which are small motorbikes commandeered by young males, act as the other option for transport, when one does not own a car or drives a truck of some sort. These guys will transport you about for the rough equivalent of a dollar, with an added benefit of their charms.
While there we dined at a beach oasis, of cobbled together shacks, called “barracas” (bah’ hock’ kas) - they provided a respite amid the enormous, expansive and empty beaches - where we settled under bamboo umbrellas and wood hewn tables. We watched local fishermen, from our beach chairs, catch our meal of red snapper, called “vermelho”. Fried to perfection, and served with rice and beans along with a scrumptious tomato salad, the “sabores” or flavors still ricochet across my tongue.
Our friend Carson introduced us to this world that time forgot - by way of his own getaway there – where neighbors or “vizinhos” all know one another. “Hail fellow, well met” was the response to all, whether walking, working or riding a horse. Here is where locked doors would be considered an affront and where time is multiplied.
Yes, the potential of such a world exist for us in the Hudson Valley, however, we would need slow down the pace a bit here, too. This afternoon we will attend Winter Walk, the annual kick-off to the celebration of the holiday season in Hudson. Hot chocolate, chili and roasted chestnuts will warm the air and allow us to walk the main street, without traffic, to meet one another in the spirit of the season.
A friend informed me of a published article about emerging artists in the holiday issue of Uptown Magazine which includes my artwork. The editor-in-chief, Keija Minor, a longtime friend, told me of the feature while visiting an opening of my work at the Cousen Rose Gallery, on Martha’s Vineyard this summer. The magazine caters to many people, just like you, so pick it up, if it is not already sitting on your coffee table.