Day 11 – Bee in the blackberry blossoms

beeintheblackberries-2

My husband was the pieman. And his favorite pie to make was blackberry. So when the blackberries started to bloom, he kept an eye on them. This is a photo he took of a bee pollinating a blackberry flower. He emailed this photo to me with the order: “PAINT THIS” well, I finally did.

Nothing tastes better than his blackberry pie.

Unless you’re a bee, then nothing tastes better than Blackberry nectar!

This painting is SOLD!

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Pomegranate – the jewel fruit

I don’t remember my first pomegranate, but I do remember as a child deciding that pomegranates deserved their own holiday. I chose the 28th of September – about the time they showed up in the supermarket. I insisted upon a pomegranate every year so I could celebrate that day.

Over the years I have noticed that most people don’t like them very much, they are not inspired by their jewel like beauty like I am. The fact is; they are seedy and can’t hold a candle to a peach. I didn’t know anything else about them except that they were exotic and beautiful, and I continue to eat them annually. I understand the pomegranate might be the forbidden fruit on the tree in the Genesis story.

Many years later, I found my first pomegranates growing in Brescia, Italy. I guess I imagined a great big tree like the old apple and cherry trees I saw as a child, but instead it was a weedy little shrub with these sensational fruit bursting out of it.

besides just pulling a pomegranate apart, and eating the jewel like fruit by the handfuls, my favorite way to eat pomegranates is in a salad. It will transform any boring salad to a thing of beauty.

This watercolor is 10″ x 14″ and is SOLD

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Le Castagne – Chestnuts

In Calabria, once upon a time before there were tomatoes (there was a time like this!) and before there was inexpensive pasta, people subsisted on Chestnuts – there was little else so readily available to stave off starvation in the wintertime. They boiled them with other vegetables, they dried them and ground them up for flour to make a heavy kind of bread, and they slowly roasted them in stone ovens for a delicious aromatic snack. The wood as well was very important, used for many purposes, from furniture to firewood.
An elaborate system of gathering, cleaning and drying these nuts developed, with some parts of the process assigned to men, and others to women and children. If you’ve ever been to Calabria in the late summer or early autumn, you have seen these large trees pregnant with big prickly yellowish green spherical husks, nasty to touch, with one to four chestnuts inside. They usually fall in mid October, almost exactly the same time every year. The last two times I visited, I was just a little too early to be able to participate in the harvest. This time, on the day before I left Calabria, my cousin presented me with a pound or so of the very first chestnuts of the season.
Even though people no longer subsist on Chestnuts, they are still a relatively important crop. They are now used more for treats than subsistence, and are also given to pigs to fatten them up. I have one cousin whose job it is to study the health of the Castagno (Chestnut tree) and another of my cousins, Teresa Riccio, has actually written a book about the historical and sociological significance of this tree Il castagno nella tradizione di una Comunità Presilana: Sersale. And I just discovered that they are very fun to paint!

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PRUGNI – Italian Plums

PlumsThis year the raspberries weren’t too great, the figs were a terrible disappointment, but we have plums! They are also called Italian Prunes. Now why would someone paint Italian Prunes? It came to me in a dream. I was frustrated because my paintings haven’t been inspiring me lately, and so I dreamed that my husband suggested I paint plums because they’re simple. I’m here to tell you that they are NOT really that simple, but it was a joy to paint them.  Next; a portrait!

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