Sandy Watiff Off-Season
Waffle Breakfast Bickering
Trees: the Forrest and the Woods
Facing the Challenge
Travel Portrait 13
Sandy Watiff Off-Season: Part 1
June 16, 2008 [listen]
I. The Challenge
"To answer your question," cawed the docent,
"you will have to visit the Sandy Watiff Gallery and
Study Center at the Farandole Tidewater Art Museum in Ridgebrooke,
Maine. That is, of course, if you really want to
The docent of the Pennsylvania Institute of Arcadian Contemporary
Art paused to give me a look as to where I should really
"Moving right along," she controlled the crowd.
"Over here, we have a real piece of work...."
"The birdie is putting me to the challenge, is she,"
I introspected while following the tour leader. "As
if she doesn't already know the magic behind the painting's
"My eye," I harrumphed paraphrasticly.
II. The Charge
"Listen people, before we begin the staff meeting,"
implored one of my bosses, "let me just remind you
that we are several months away from the end of the fiscal
year. So if you have a significant amount of accrued vacation
time, make plans and submit your request(s) to your supervisor
as soon as possible so we may make adjustments to the office
schedule," he said peevishly. "And furthermore,
if you do not use your vacation time, you know what?
No sandy beaches! Understood? Now, first agenda item
"He always starts the meeting with some kind of ultimatum.
Control your temper and do as you are told!"
I refrained from speaking while the conference room dinned
from my colleagues' murmurs and nervous chuckles.
III. The Child
"I want to stay in a house by a lake--and I want to
visit a forest, daddy."
"You do??? Is that why you keep running through the
shrubbery around the duck pond when we are at the zoo?"
"Y-yeah. And I like the rocks and the sand,
Well then, we will have to wait and see what, if
anything I can conjure to meet your request. Okay son?"
IV. The Call
Confounded by the cryptic Sandy Watiff name-dropping,
I decided I should find my way to Ridgebrooke, Maine and
the Farandole Tidewater Art Museum. I contacted the Sandy
Watiff curator at the Farandole Tidewater to find out more
about the artist's haunts, the figments a tourist could
muse without going to the museum necessarily. I wanted the
artist's itinerary (aesthetic-lore).
"Uh-huh. Yes. Uh-huh. Well, yeah, but
Five-mile radius. Oh really? Only what he knows, which is
how much? Well, the docent tells me that
Look, I have
the vacation time. I'm driving, no problem there. But, you
are open during the off-season, yes? I'm making plans anyhow.
I'll make my own itinerary. Yes, I'll let you know once
I've booked my lodgings. And, by the way, if you come up
with any information, you can call me. My number is
An insightful conversation indeed. With little more than
the Farandole Tidewater's street and website addresses,
I decided to return the Pennsylvania Institute of Arcadian
Contemporary Art to purchase Sandy Watiff's retrospective
catalogue so to hopefully garner some clues: to gain a sense
of Maine (the region) [space], to take a look at Ridgebrooke
(the location) [place], and to conceptualize a feel for
lake/forest (the imagination) [craze].
Later that evening, I went online to view the terrain of
the region, zoomed in to get a satellite view of the location.
I jotted down some notes, and then did a text search based
upon the [space/place] keywords, hoping to find the cottage
I imagined [crazed]. From the result set, I bookmarked those
web pages that provided interior as well as exterior pictures
of the rental property. Once I had a sufficient list, I
started to make phone calls to check on the cottage's availability
and proprietor's personality.
"Nope, nah. We had a tricky winter this year--somewhat
extended. So what you'll experience will be off-season-like
weather-and with the black
flies--May and June are really unpredictable,
not particularly majestic. Call someplace else. Good
I in no way ever have experienced such more caring and
sincere stay-out hospitality--with exception to the
curator. Hmm. Never mind, inclement or not, forewarning
heeded, I continued down the list and made more detailed
inquiries regarding weather conditions and black flies.
I found a cottage that was by a bay and in a semi-wooded
area. I spoke with the owner, and she quelled my concerns,
but did acknowledge the potential for inclemency. She was
neither disconcerting, nor disheartening, just mater-of-fact.
She confirmed the terms of agreement as outlined on the
website, stated the cottage's availability, when the initial
deposit and final payment were due--and the refund policy.
The next day, I placed a request for vacation time. Once
confirmed, I reserved the cottage and mailed in my deposit
check. I voicemailed the Farandole Tidewater curator to
provide her with the date range of my visit. That evening
I informed my son as to our plans--and we set our expectations
with heightened anticipation.