Sunday, March 6, 2011
I'm sure that I must've painted lemons at some time when I was a kid. I did paint still-lifes, and some of them were surely stereo typical bowls of fruit - (is this one stereo-typical?) - but then maybe I wouldn't have considered lemons to be IN a fruit bowl when I was a kid. It would have been banana, grapes, orange, apple, in that order, in a wooden bowl. I knew what I liked.
I liked lemons, in desserts, and even the way my mom liked them, with salt. Cebah put salt on all kinds of things. She also made superlative lemon merengue pies, lemon bars, lemon pudding, lemonade, you name it. She liked granata, of course, when she tasted it. I introduced that one as an adult.
I think the first lemons were painted, on cardboard, in my teens, along with bread and a bottle of wine. I am a romantic. Then they were there because where I cook I like them to be, and because they were yellow. I think my nephew has this painting - it survived. So did the romantic.
The first time the lemons co-starred was in a mid-80s still-life, "Larks and Lemons." My dad brought me two dead field larks that he found in a snow drift. He knew that I liked to paint birds. The brilliant yellow breasts of the larks were slashed with a jet black V. On a sky blue cloth they were perfect with the lemons, like their Spring song, always a little dampness in the fields when you hear it - a penetrating thing, a single high falling note, like a very hopeful sigh. They are called "star-(bird)" by the Cherokee, because of the star-point pattern their tail feathers make as they fly. It all goes together.
The night before last they arrived in the dream, painted, along with the yellow cloud of daffodils and enough romanticism to pierce the mist of Spring birth-pang chill, and awaken, astounded at life's beauty, the lemons heaped in a stone bowl, glowing mysteriously tart in the middle of everything.