A Taste of Summer

A Taste of Summer (from a sketchbook) – Pencil, ink, watercolor – 8.5 x 11 inches.

A famous song begins with the following lines:

“Just about a year ago
I set out on the road
Seekin’ my fame and fortune
Lookin’ for a pot of gold
Things got bad and things got worse
I guess you’ll know the tune. . .”

I’m guessing that even though you may have forgotten the first six lines of the tune, you will not have forgotten the last:

“Oh Lord, stuck in Lodi again.”

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1969 song made Lodi, California feel to me like one of the circles of Hell. But there are worse places in this world to be stuck in: Spokane, Washington, Broma, Sweden, and just about anywhere in Texas come immediately to mind.

At least Lodi has some excellent wineries, especially if you fancy bold reds. This watercolor shows the tasting room of one of them. At first sight it felt dark and imposing, but it’s dramatic and I thought it showed an imaginative use of space. I didn’t paint it to advertise the winery or the city; it just happened to appear during the travels of some friends spending a beautiful day in the pleasant company of Dionysus.

That was a while ago. Today, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, it’s the middle of March, the middle of Lent, and many of us feel stuck. We may be finished with Winter, but Winter has not finished with us. Rain and snow are predicted to visit us, yet again, by the end of the week.

So as an act of public service, here’s an image of a sunny afternoon in June that just happened to be in Lodi. Yes, Summer will arrive, no matter where we happen to feel stuck.

2 thoughts to “A Taste of Summer”

  1. Michael,
    Your image and story ring personal with me. I was, literally stuck in Lodi in the early seventies waiting to get hired at a winery, with no car, no friends, a stranger in a very strange land. This was the Lodi that greeted you with a John Birch Society billboard imploring the US to get out of the United Nations. I did eventually get hired at the winery (possibly the one in your painting), which only lasted a week. I was never so relieved as getting unstuck from Lodi.

  2. This drawing may not be the squaring of the circle, but it sure is a beautiful interplay between round and straight lines. Rounds: the barrels, flowerpot, water tower, awnings. The straights: post and crossbeam, smokestack, door, walkway. But then too there is the curious mixture of the two: the lamp-post (straight/curved/straight), the electric wires (some straight, some curved), the chair (Is its back straight or curved?) and the building itself: a barrel or a box? The drawing fascinates, and the absence of any human being when everything, save the sky and the sunlight, is human-made, gives the work a sense of mystery. It’s a location teeming with potential activity, yet no one is there. No one, except the artist, that is.

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