MICHAEL SHYKA STUDIO



I encourage everyone to wear a stylish, beautiful scarf over their face mask when going out. Not only will it add beauty to our world, but it will let you reuse your mask, as you can easily decontaminate a scarf by ironing it on a high setting after and before each use. The Silk Bandanna sized scarves (apx.20"x20") that I make, and offer to sell to you are all one of a kind, and hand-painted and sewn by myself. They are luxury items priced under $100. If you are considering purchasing a new scarf, please review Vogue's online article titled "Right Now a Scarf is Your Best Friend" by Janelle Okwodu for price comparisons. Please note that of 24 similar sized scarfs shown, none are hand-painted or one of a kind, not even any of the five that are over $400!
Simply put, mine are a tremendous deal, and right now is a great time to purchase one or more. I recommend wearing mine with big sunglasses and a coordinating hat for extra levels of safety and mystery! Enjoy!



My first trip to South Beach in 1991, wearing print I designed while working at J.B.J. in Manhattan.

 

South Beach before redevelopment, I wish this original walkway to the street was kept.

 

# 1 reason I moved to S.B. - Color!

 

My Imaginary concept of Miami illustrated for Michael Katz


Welcome to my Live/Work Studio

 

My Washington Avenue porch was perfect for painting silk on.


Local model Jamie Ridge drops by and poses for me!

 

Watercolor of The Delano

 

A neighborhood photo shoot in front of Hotel St.Augustine.

 
My stunning neighbor modeling for me

 

My neighbor on the porch of Hotel St. Augustine 

A patron enjoying my space

Watercolor of  Angela my neighbor


Ahh,...one of my favorite regulars! Broadway producer Dasha Epstein wearing her hand-painted stripes.

 

A design idea for Dasha

 

Getting ready to go out with a friend

 

And were out, painting the town violet?

 

Fashion Croquis for Emerald Trellis Bias Pleated Cross Scarf Dress

The finished product on a Jennifer Aniston Look-a-like, or is it really her? -photo credit Jose Ivannes

Aqua Zebra Bias Slip-dress on Kimberly

 

Mint + Violet Bias Scarf Wrap Dress Construction Croquis

 

Scarf Wrap Dress on a local model photographed by Jose Ivannes.

 

Girl with Hibiscus

 

My new neighbor Violeta, from ST. Petersburg - RUSSIA.

 

Violeta modeling a bias slip top, Photo by Jose Ivannes.

 

Sketch from the 12th street gay beach.

 

"Workin the party" *note to self - "Free Champagne Crowd" does not purchase.

 

Turn of the Millineum Promo Card modeled by my sister Jenny.

 

 Another party, this one,...Ocean Drive's 10th anniversary - Photo credit - Jose Ivannes.

 

A Local South Beach Beauty.

Another local beauty, Camila via Brazil.

 

Pashmina, my resident porch cat. I miss You!

A youth from the neighborhood dropped by regularly with her mom for dress-up. 

Brunch with publicists Extrodinair Irene Moore, Cher Murphy, friends, and Mother.

 

Enjoying a visit with my cousin Chuck and his family.

 

Days of body beautiful (past), with the help of David Barton Gym and all their amazing trainers, instructors, and staff! photo-Susan Egan


Watercolor from my view of South Beach Proper. Want to read more about any of these images? Let me know what ones you are curious about, and perhaps I'll write more about it. Stay tuned for more images from Miami - My Fashion Shows and photoshoots by photographer Jose Ivannes.







 

NEW YORK CITY 1987

 

While studying at Parsons School of Design, in N.Y.C., in 1987, I got a job as a busboy at the Metropolitan Cafe in Union Square. It was a fun job for restaurant work. I loved the atmosphere and helping out the interesting and glamorous waitresses who were pursuing other creative dreams like myself. The regular customer was a stylish, cosmopolitan type. One of the owners was a Scandinavian supermodel.

 

That December, the Metropolitan Cafe was always packed full, especially on the weekends. While bussing a table one night, I cleared the plate from a lady who had barely even tasted her meal. While doing so, I dripped sauce on her suede mini skirt. My arms were piled high, I knew I had to get rid of the plates first and then get back with apologies, and some soda water, to help clean her stained skirt with.
I returned to tell her about the damage I had done. When I offered her the napkin soaked with soda water, she was speechless. At my next shift, I Found out from the owners that her husband, who was present at the dinner, was a lawyer. He was suing the restaurant. My days were numbered there, I knew I had to find a new job fast.


Immediately I went to the job board at Parsons. Posted there, I read about a job looking for an artist to paint silk for a fashion designer. The Designer had a nearby address. I had experience with silk-painting from previous classes at Mass Art, where I was on exchange from. I loved the process, and the challenge that dyes on silk had to offer. I placed my call and got an appointment for later in the week.


Arriving at the interview, portfolio in hand, I stepped off the elevator on the seventh floor of a beautiful Cast Iron building by Union Square. The Loft was enormous, painted entirely in white, with white high gloss floors. Large, simple abstract paintings were hung on several walls. In front of many large windows stood massive potted ficus trees. Opera music was playing in the background, I saw to my left, and right, extensive flat wooden tables, covered with white silk. I instantly felt like I had arrived in heaven.


The Designer appeared, tall with closely cropped dark hair, he was dressed all in black and introduced himself to me as James Acker. Glowing with enthusiasm, a big smile, and a firm handshake, he asked me to sit in the lofts showroom area. Here he began viewing my portfolio, going slowly, from large sheet to sheet he continued to nod his head. I had arranged my artwork with examples of recent fashion illustrations done with India ink, and spot colors with pastels. I selected drawings of models in 50's style, satin dresses, as well as some historical fashion plates from my History of Fashion class. I had no examples of my painted silks with me, but I spoke of how much I loved that class.


 

James asked a tall blond man dressed head to toe in preppy classics to view my portfolio also. Soon a lady, who had been diligently arranging a dress pattern, on top of a table of brilliantly painted silk, also came over to see. As they began discussing my colors and line work, I studied a long hanging rack, covered by a large piece of black silk. Under the overlay of silk, popped brilliant colors of what looked like a collection of hand-painted silk designs.


The lady and young man returned to their work. The Designer, who had by now repeated the word "fabulous" about three times, began showing me his current collection. Tossing the broad swath of silk aside, he revealed marvelous examples of painted silk fashions. I saw lavish flowers in vivid colors, pastel stripes in varying broad brush strokes, abstract patterns of color blocking on quilted silk coats. Bold, black, and white polka dots on a full-length tunic. Several long, slinky cut gowns expressively painted with large tulips in alternate colorways. James skipped over each outfit in a rush, as if he had much more important things to do. The interview, I realized, was soon to be over. As I headed toward the exit, I realized what a special place this was. The craftsmanship, creativity, and quality of what I saw in production here were unbelievable.

 

Back at the Metropolitan Cafe, during a lull in my shift, the next weekend afternoon, I started polishing the brass hardware around the bar. Immediately the bartender asked me to find something else to do. I moved on, and by the end of the shift, she was apologizing to me. The next time I saw her, she offered me a bussing position at Grace Jones's new restaurant. It was set to open New Year's Eve. I was a significant fan of Grace Jones, so I agreed to bus tables for her restaurant's opening.

 

The next week I traveled to my parent's home in Maine to celebrate Christmas with my family. Stepping onto the front porch of my parent's old farmhouse, I saw my childhood dog Pehr tied up, and happy to see me. He was unkempt and smelled of skunk spray. I took one look at him, his overgrown coat, his dog odors, his neediness, and I guess I began to alienate him from my affections. I remember having no interest in expressing my love with him. I had moved out and left home for good now, I was no longer his rightful master. He looked at me with renewed friendship, yearning for his love to be reciprocated.



He had once been my loyal, constant companion. On that icy winter day, I mentally abandoned him. I gave him a pat on his head, and a hug and went inside. The week passed without any renewed bonding with Pehr, except for a little caress here and upon going out to smoke a cigarette. Right before leaving to catch my flight, I did one last thing. I let him off his leash and told him to go and run. He had always been a roamer, he liked to chase deer and any female dogs in heat. He did not leave immediately but sat on the porch reproachfully, and forlorn as I moved my bags to the car and said goodbye.

 

I returned to N.Y.C. to enjoy my life away from home. Late in the afternoon of New Year's Eve, I arrived in SoHo at Grace Jones restaurant, La Vie En Rose. Upon meeting the manager, I set out to learn my job. I met the other busboys, restaurant career sort types, the wait staff seemed rushed and frantic, there appeared to be little order about. I began to familiarize myself with the inner workings of the restaurant. I noticed the manager trying to decide what tape to play in his sound system, he had very few to choose from and chose something not very inspiring. As he left, I took a look at the small tape collection and noted there were none of Miss. Jones's, how strange, I thought? If I had known this would be the case, I would have brought my own.

 

I considered Grace's music to be the ultimate, and most refreshing sounds around, I was in love with her rendition of "Send in the Clowns," and "Tomorrow." Her album "Portfolio" was so inspiring to me, my life, and my dreams. I began setting tables, preparing the restaurant for it's opening night. Serious Fashion victims and minor celebrities started to trickle in, My bartender pal told me one group of dudes at a nearby table was the band, Duran, Duran, come to think of it, the cassette now playing was "Hungry Like the Wolf." Then Grace arrived, wearing a full length, deep magenta, stretch silk charmeuse Azzedine Allia number, with matching magenta satin silk stilettos. Her silk hood up, she wiggled through the crowd, greeting her guests, explaining that she had been up all last night, and had a horrible cold. I was trying my hardest not to stare, I imagined myself being like a fox and blending into the background. Soon I was filling the water glasses at Grace's table. I slipped away and continued to bus other tables. There was the humming buzz of guests socializing, then her loud, deep laughter separating the moments in between silences. The night wore on, uneventful, and somewhat low key, for what I was expecting. I went to her table to replenish the water glasses with ice.

 

"Can I get you anything?" I asked her with a smile,

 

"Diamonds! Diamonds!, my darling."

 

I dumped ice cubes into her water glass, spilling excess water all over the white linen table cloth. I was mortified, my face, now glowing a bright shade of red, I cleaned up and hurried away,.. a peal of muffled laughter, and hmmm, was all I heard in the background.

 

I do not remember when the clock struck twelve, rolling in 1988. It was just a big party now, guests coming and going. I continued to bus, clean up, the place emptied out early. Seeing the manager drinking with the other busboys and wait staff, I realized I could head home any time soon. They seemed to be partying harder than any of the guests had that night. I collected an insubstantial amount of tips and left for my uptown apartment.

 

"Feel Up" was playing in my head as I walked in the drizzling rain to the subway. The early mourning sky was a deep shade of Magenta.


 

The next week I never followed up on the busing job gone bad, but I did receive a call from the fabulous fashion designer. I had been hired as a painting assistant and was to begin work there immediately.

 

                          THE FABULOUS DESIGNER

 

Arriving at the Designer's Loft the next morning, I was happy to meet all his other employees. Ed, the tall blond man, was Jame's first assistant and studio manager. Josephine, the older lady, working with his silks during my interview, was the patternmaker and head seamstress. I was to train as a painting assistant under Edwards supervision, but first was to spend some time tidying the Loft under James' guidance.

 

"was I good at organizing? "The Designer asked?

 

"yes, I'm an excellent organizer "

 

My first project was to climb up a high rolling latter and reorganize some shelves that were cluttered behind white muslin curtains. After that was done, I began to organize his work desk covered in papers. A large metal Rolodex was opened to Patty Hearst's phone number.

 

"Was I to answer the phone, and how would he like me to greet his callers?

 

"Hello, James Acker Studio," he said.

 

For the next fifteen minutes, I worked all around him, straightening up piles of papers, throwing out empty coffee cups, putting away pens, pencils, paper clips, post-it notes, personal letters, as well as many beautiful postcards. He showed me how he wanted his phone message book filled out.

 

"Did you know that Eleanore Lambert's Rolodex is organized with lists of all the favorite items and needs of her famous clients?"

 

I had no Idea who Elenor Lambert was, but I soon would find out.

 

James, "Could you place a call to Elenore right now and ask her secretary for an invite to my fashion show. I want to hear how they handle it."

 

I hesitate with the phone receiver in my hand.

 

James, speaking to me, "Elenore is the publicist for my show"

 

"What the hell is she doing for it anyways?" he shouts to Edward.

 

"don't worry about that," Ed says, like the company executive he is.

 

James, gruffly "well….what are you waiting for? call her"

 

"what was I to say?" I asked

 

"Just say you are interested in attending my show, and you want to know how to get an invitation. Put it on speakerphone, do you know how to do that? Look, hit this button here."

 

I placed the call, a fussy sounding woman answered,

 

"put it on speakerphone!," I clicked the button again.

 

"Yes, hello, this is James Kudrovic, I would like to attend James Acker's Fall show, How can I get an invite?"

 

"Who is this again?" she gurgled," and what's the name of your boutique? do you have a boutique?"

 

James grabs the phone from me, "Eleanore, (rolling his RR's) it's James Acker," he begins in a very charming tone, I have not heard him use yet. "That was my new assistant, I had him call you. I'd like to know what you are doing to publicize my show?" (He turns off the speakerphone) Minutes later while hanging up, he quips, "She has never, ever answered her own phone, and now, the one time that she does, it had to be you who called her!"

 

For the remainder of the morning, I clear his desk completely, wash it with spray bleach, to remove the dye and coffee stains. I then return all papers and pads to neat piles while desperately trying not to get in the way of my Boss, who's busy hustling his phone all morning. At noon James utters,

 

"I'M FAMISHED" handing me a twenty, "go get me a sandwich, a cup of pea soup, and buy some food for yourself, you need to eat! your way to skinny, just keep the change. Will, are you still watering the plants?"

 

Will casually strolling around with a giant green water pitcher, "Yes, James?"

 

"Are you going to spend all morning doing that?"

 

Edward ignores James' question and continues to water the massive plants arranged throughout the entire Loft. There are lush Ficus trees, Norfolk Pines, tropical palm trees, and flowering bushes set before bright windows.

 

I bundle up and leave, sucking down a cigarette outside. Walking to the deli I ponder the heightened energy of the Loft. After picking out some sandwiches, and rushing back, I return to find James waiting for me by the elevator door.

 

"What took so long? Get it out, serve it up, hustle, hustle!

Let's eat over here, sit down." Ed and Josephine join us.


"Do you like the art of Toulouse Lautrec?"

 

"James Loves Toulouse Lautrec's linework!" Ed states


"Ed, don't interrupt, I think you draw like Toulouse Lautrec, I want you to do some Toulouse Lautrec like prints, Dancing CanCan girls, with luscious jewel tones, and amber for fall."


"The Can-Can girls should all be kicking their legs high up in the air in complete abandonment," Josephine chimes in with enthusiasm.


Halfway through lunch, James asks me, "Who is your favorite Designer? ( I really should have said he was, but I am not so clever at the moment.)

 

"Emanuel Ungaro'' I say, "I Love his use of print, and color, also his draping skills, the sensuality of his designs."

 

"You know you should never, ever mention another designer's name" he replied.

 

"Easy there, Eve," Ed said, laughing and looking at Josephine with raised eyebrows.

 

"have you seen the movie "All About Eve?" Josephine asks me,

 

"no, I haven't."

 

"Well, when you see it, you will understand the sarcasm."

 

"What do you think of Karl Lagerfield?" James asks me.

 

"I think he must be a very busy man. He designs for Chanel, Fendi, and Chloe, as well as his own label, I believe." trying not to sound like smartypants, while feeling victorious, and slightly smug about my answer, I then add, "Chloe is my favorite of them all, for it's ethereal and romantic look."

 


 

"Umm," he shrugs; Edward and Josephine are oddly silent, and continue to eat, the door buzzes.

 

"It's ABRA! "he roars, rolling the r's with much joy, and bolting to the elevator to buzz her in.

 

A minute later, a beautiful, Red-headed woman, saunters in, all smiles, her glowing white face framed by long, luxurious waves of red curls. They kiss and embrace.


"meet my new assistant," he gestures his longarms my way


"Nice to meet you," she says, demurely, the broad smile completely abandons her face as she looks me in the eyes and shakes my outreached had gently. *Note to self,…do not ever, ever mess with her, or it will be the end of you here.

 

"How do you like working for James so far?" she asks?"

 

"I love it!" I gleefully reply.

 

She seemed to roll her eyes slightly, looking back at her dearest friend, my new Boss.

 

After lunch, I am handed over to Edward to begin my training. We start by giving a third coat of black dye to a zebra print that he has already begone. I use a small foam brush he gives me, from a box containing dozens, and told to let the dye drip off of it before applying it to the silk. We carefully fill in the black stripes that are bordered by a thick line of wax. After filling in the outlined area with dye, I learn to buff, with paper towels the wet areas, carefully, so as not to stain the wax border.

 

Next, Ed and I get down a large wooden frame that hangs nearby. It was once painted white but now is covered in deep stains of dye. We cover the top edge with masking tape, so as not to stain the new piece of silk that we will be pin on it.

Edward brings out a large bolt of white silk, 16mm, crepe de chine he calls it. He rolls it out, about four yards long, covering the whole length of the frame, and table. He snips it with scissors and tears it across the width. Josephine is standing across from us, working on cutting out a dress from a paper pattern that's pinned to silk already painted. She hums to herself. The Boss is in the back of the Loft, still in a quiet conversation with the lovely, but chilling Abra.

 

"First, we tac down the four separate corners, then place a tac every eight inches," he said, handing me a handful of tacks. We do this, trying not to stretch the silk out as we go along.

 

"He said THAT?" I hear Abra ask loudly, James speaks in hushed tones, they laugh.

 

Soon the whole table of silk had been tacked down. "Now look, say's Ed, you should be able to bounce a dime on it,''

He pulls a dime out of his pocket and tosses it on the silk. It bounces. Together we picked up the stretched frame of silk and move it back to where it was hung. More cackling from the back, getting louder, and louder, the opera music is turned up loud now too. There is a sizeable empty table opposite us, covered in stained newspapers. Edward begins to Place jars of dyes on that table.

 

"Now we'll clean up the dye area, I want you to empty out any containers of dye that are not standard colors." Pointing to rows of Powdered dye cans, each labeled with standard color names. I start by taking the most muted and oddball colors over to large porcelain sink in the kitchen area and pour them down the drain showing no mercy. Abra and James are stroking Jame's grey Prussian cat, China, who has just come out of hiding. Ed has me washout, with paper towels and rubbing alcohol, the stained, empty containers. The rubbing alcohol removes the dye stains almost entirely,  my hands are stained ink black. Ed, seeing me look at my hands passes me a pair of plastic gloves. As I clean the many containers, over the rush of water, I hear Abra saying goodbye. I shout,

 

"Bye, Abra, nice to meet you!

 

Still washing up, and bleaching the sink, so it's no longer stained, I hear bits of a heated conversation from James desk,

 

"What do you mean they can't make it today?, OK, JUST GET THEM HERE TOMORROW JOY !"

 

Ed then has me remove all the stained newspapers covering the dye area, and replace them with fresh layers. Then we proceeded to replace all the remainder "true colors" of dye containers back to the dye area. At Jame's table, he quietly rearranges the many piles of papers. His opera music gets loader.

 

"OK, this is how the dyes are to be mixed, I know it's a lot to remember on your first day, it's OK if you do not remember it all, just watch and listen and you will soon learn it all."

 

Ed takes a clean container, cleans a stained dye spoon with rubbing alcohol, and then fills another vessel with water, puts it in the microwave, James is now singing along to the opera music. Ed takes out the container of hot water and adds two shots of rubbing alcohol, then two heaping tablespoons of the dye powder from the can labeled "YELLOW." He mixes it thoroughly and then cleans the spoon with a paper towel. We continue to do this with five more colors of dye powders, straight from the can. An emerald green, a gold, a light blue, a rose, and a pink are all mixed.

 

"I 'll teach you how to mix a black, it's complicated, you might not remember it all this first lesson. You can always ask me how to do it later. First, you will need a big container of boiling water and a lot of rubbing alcohol, about five shots, (Will also is a bartender, he has informed me earlier) Then you add five heaping spoons of "dark blue" dye powder, and one heaping spoon of black."

 

"You can not use just straight black, or it will stain the silk with a metallic color that you will never be able to get out, You now have to mix it very aggressively,"

 

"WHAT are you two talking about over there?" I hear coming from James, I look over and smile, to see his table now completely in disarray again.

 

"Oh just chill James" Edward quips back, "mix it fast for at least a minute, here I'll do it, you get a scrap of chiffon from Josephine."

 

I come back with the chiffon scrap, Ed tapes it to another large container, strains the black dye through the layer of chiffon,

 

"Throw this out," he hands me the black stained chiffon,( my hands are now stained black again)

 

"Add three more shots of rubbing alcohol and mix thoroughly."

 

"Shouldn't I be writing this all down?"

 

"No, after you do it a couple of times, you will remember."

 

"Really, Ed, are you done yet? I need you to go to the post office and the bank for me" Edward rolls his eyes, smiles, and goes to get the mail and banking ready.

 

As Edward leaves as the Designer, says, "BOY!"…., what's your name again?

 

"The same as yours, James"

 

"That's not going to work. there can not be two James, do you have a nickname?"

 

"No," I reply, I look over to see Josephine smirking as she hums to herself.

 

"What's your middle name?" he asks gruffly


"Nicolas"… I say softly

 

"Well, that is what we will call you!" "Nicolas"

 

Thinking to myself, this is kind of weird, "I do not really like that name, It's my Father's name, and we do not really get along," I try to explain.

 

"WELL, WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE CALLED?"

 

"Maybe Jim?"

 

"NO, That's my nick-name" 

 

"How about something different, Jeffery, Sebastian?…Hank?"

 

"Umm," I say, bewildered, an drawing a blank as I crumple up some discarded newspapers, from the table.

 

"Nicolas, I Like that name, It is a good name, you will be called Nicolas." the phone rang "can you get that, Nick?

I pick up the receiver and reach for a pen and the message pad" James Acker studio" I say, this is Nicolas speaking"

 

"WHO? Are YOU? now,"

 

"a painting assistant," I state.

 

"Let me speak to James, tell him it's Snake."

 

"Give me that! "my Boss grabs the phone from me. I hear raucous laughter, and snarky humor from the back of the Loft, I smell a joint has been lit. I continue to cover the large table with fresh newspaper and get a bolt of 45" silk, to continue to cover the table with, as Edward had instructed me to do before he left.

 

James comes back, now glowing with his big smile, "BOY," …he pauses, "do you know how to mix colors?"

 

"YES," I say, what colors do you want?

 

"Silver-grey, use the one from the can labeled Silver, but use vinegar, instead of rubbing alcohol. I want a rich, deep, dark brown, a seafoam, a lime green, red, and chartreuse, I 'll tell you how to mix the red properly, as well the chartreuse, How will you make the other colors? "

 

"I can use deep blue, with orange for a dark brown," I mix it up, and show him the sample of deep brown.

 

"That's good, a rich brown is very hard to mix. Is that done by using complementary colors?" he asks, a bit intrigued.

 

"yes, dark blue and orange make brown"

"Do they now? what else?"

 

"I can use a pale turquoise, tinted with a little yellow for the seafoam." I pour a speck of yellow into a container of turquoise I have just diluted with water, and show him the sample of it.

 

"Ok, that looks good"

 

"Emerald green, with some yellow in it for the lime?'

 

"Just strait emerald with more water. Use yellow with a dash of violet, for my chartreuse, and for bright red, use the red straight from the can, with a speck of black in it. That is my secret for a stunning red! He then mumbles something about red needing that speck of black to make it pop. I mix the colors as fast as possible,

 

"Are they done yet?" I show him samples on paper.

 

"THEY ARE PERFECT!", seeing I am pleased, he asks, "are we having fun yet?"

 

"Yes, I love mixing colors."

 

"Well you are very good at it, I have never seen anything like it, REALLY."

 

"Here," he offers me a joint he has just lighted.

 

"I'll pass, not at work, I get paranoid," I explain, he inhales deeply.

 

"Can I take a cigarette break?" I ask

 

"A BREAK? well yes, you've earned it, go right ahead."

 

I go over to the sitting area and light up.

 

"T H A T   I S   A   D I S G U S T I N G   H A B I T" he articulates every syllable slowly, I roll my eyes and inhale.

 

With his burning joint in between two fingers, he picks up a photo, a foam brush, and a container of dye. He begins painting on the silk, with fast, frantic motions, enthralled, I watch in amazement, curious as to what may spill.

By the time I finish my cigarette, James has almost the entire table sketched out in various colors. It's a scene of large trees and bushes, and bits of a red sunset.

 

"You MUST work very fast for it to look fresh. Get a brush, and help me paint this area in." we work together filling in the designated areas with dye. I hear the sewing machine running fast; in the far front of the Loft. James hands me a roll of paper towels.

 

"Help me buff, you must rub the silk very hard before it drys," we both do this, fast and frantically,

 

"Get the green dyes you've mixed and start putting-in leaves around the tree branches" we both do so. The table of white silk is becoming transformed. We step back and look at the work we have been creating.

 

"FABULOUS," we both say together.

 

Josephine saunters down, with the outfit she has finished. It is an ensemble consisting of a red silk dress, under a calf-length silk Gazaar coat in variating stripes of red, silvers and black.

 

"That's FABULOUS," James says the word very fast.

 

I quickly try to find another word "IT IS STUNNING!" we all admire each other work, It is getting close to five, Edward returns, "Oh, your working on the tree sunset ?" It's gorgeous!

 

"F A B U L O U S," he says drawing out the syllables, and looking at the dress Josephine is holding. "Is that Anne Slaters' new outfit?"

 

"Of course it is Ed",  James states matter of factly, and with a bit of condescension.

 

"NICOLAS, take the silks that are finished to the dry cleaner, Ed will give them to you, and write down the address for you, it's a nice walk down University Place."

 

As I head down University Place, in the setting sun of late winter day, I notice people gawking at the brilliant silks slung over my back, I have never felt so satisfied, and content in my entire life.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Arriving at the Loft the following morning, A young man named Bobby greets me. He is busy painting silk on one of the tables. Bobby tells me that James has left a note for me on the front desk. Upon reading it, I see it lists my tasks for the morning and states that Bobby will train me today.

I go about my tasks, which include cleaning up J.A.'s work table, giving the zebra it's final coats of black, and helping  Bobby with his projects. James soon enters, saying good morning to everyone, he sits quietly at his desk, going through papers.

 

I get from Josephine the garments to ship. There are two incredibly groovy, quilted silk jackets in bright psychedelic colors, both quilted with gold thread. There are also three ensembles with the black and white zebra print. Each has wide Zebra print slacks, and a long, calf-length kimono of the same print. The jacket is trimmed with rhinestones on the cuffs and collar. I cover them in plastic dry cleaner bags and pack them in two large, flat boxes with tissue paper. On the desk are the invoices with shipping information. I address the card-board boxes to Fred Segal in Los Angeles.

 

Meanwhile, the lady named Joy arrives. James has described her earlier as being "a big Yenta." Joy enters the Loft in a full-length, fur coat, She barely greets us, even after Bobby and I coyly attempt to welcome her. She heads straight to Jame's desk and gets into a heated conversation with him. I try not to listen as I work, but from the sound of it, she is negotiating her sales commission with James.

When her clients arrive, both Joy and James end their conversation immediately. Joy is still fuming as she kisses her fussy looking uptown friends. The new arrivals are quite a sight, very wealthy-looking, ladies, both clad in floor-length mink coats and highly lacquered Palm Beach crash helmet hairstyles. I wonder how many creatures lost their lives for their coats. After we greet them, they quickly dismiss us working boys and go straight for Jame's jugular.

 

Bobby and I try not to pay attention to the unwanted air of dreadfulness now overwhelming the studio. We work quietly together, mixing the colors of Booby's choice. I buff while Bobby paints, all the time looking at the discouraged looking, overwatered ficus trees.

 

James does his best job schmoozing them, but as soon as Josephine brings their outfits out, trouble begins. Neither of them seems pleased with their outfits, Josephine is busy pinning and re-pinning their hemlines and seams. One lady is having the zebra ensemble fitted, the other is in a similar cut, but of dark chartreuse, painted silk. They both keep looking in Jame's huge rolling mirror with apprehension. They complain that it is a trick mirror, a "skinny mirror" and fuss with the details of their new outfits. Josephine and James try to be reassuring; both are now looking to Joy for her approval, which she does give. All seem discontent and disparaged.

 

Their new ensembles look lovely to me, at least much better than what they came in wearing. I move over to the table where James has painted the "Sunset Tree" print and begin to give all colors a second coat of dye. Meanwhile, James is pacing around, making broad sweeping gestures with his arms. Finally, they seem to settle their affairs, James and Josephine, now with many notes on changes to be made. Dolefully the unimpressed ladies get changed back into their original pantsuits with fur coats on top.


While waiting for the elevator, the two clients look at me, and the silk I am giving a second coat of dye to, the blond one purrs," James, make me up a smock and slacks in this print. Joy, just add it to my bill."

 

Joy does not leave with them but gets back into the original money argument. Before lunch, she exits, barely saying goodbye to us, and looking a bit defeated. I feel for her.

 

At lunch, James and Bobby get into a heated conversation that may be a lover's quarrel. I leave to run errands for James, mainly to make a bank deposit, and pick up a prescription of valium for him. When I return, I'm happy to see Ed has arrived; all is much calmer in the Loft. Edward, Bobby, and Josephine are all listening to Jame's entertaining gossip about his afternoon appointment. The Contessa Ariana, a nobility of Italian descent, I immediately recognize her name, as I have read about her "Return from the Amazon" party at Studio 54, in Interview magazine.

When the Contessa arrives, it is quite another scene, but much more fun than the morning. She brings her mother with her; they are both dripping wet with melting snowflakes on their collar to heel Blue Russian Sable fur coats. I try to refrain from being judgmental as the tall Contessa with long luxurious dark brunette hair, smelling of expensive perfume gives kisses to all of us. They quickly become engaged in our silk-painting process.

 

James seems to be thoroughly enjoying their company, and there is plenty of gossip between the three of them. As they luxuriate around the back of the Loft, trying on everything that appeals to them, they talk kindly back and forth. They look lovely in everything, especially the Contessa. Upon leaving, I notice that they both are carrying armloads of outfits that they are "borrowing." Elegantly they kiss us all goodbye.


Well, so much for a profitable afternoon from those two, I think to myself. "the bank won't be seeing a deposit from their pockets, they were fun, and charming nonetheless." James has slipped into a pair of black clogs, that he is not quite steady in, I notice as he shuffles loudly back and forth on the lofts wooden floors working with Josephine. I think to myself. Maybe his valium has kicked in.

 

I have been working on finishing up the Tree print and re-stretching tables of silk. Bobby has me heat a mixture of paraffin and beeswax to paint white polka dots under the wax, with a black background. While mixing up the black dye, a new boy arrives, Mark - James' new boyfriend, I think.

Mark is very friendly with me and extremely interested in everything I'm working on; he hardly speaks to Bobby, though, who may be giving him "The Cold Shoulder." Mark and James retreat to the privacy of the Loft's rear area, Bobby Josephine, the new seamstress Josephine is training, and I continue with our work. At nearly 5:00, an older male friend of James drops by unexpectedly. He is the most "regular "person I have encountered all day. Immediately, he starts to scheme with James on how James should be "raking in more doe," I've had it for the day, I say my goodbyes and leave.

 

The next morning, I arrive at the Loft to find it quiet, with just James, Josephine, and her seamstress there. I am sad, and dis-hearted, as I have heard from my mom that Pehr, my dog, hasn't returned home yet. It has been over a week since I let him free from his run. I tell this to James after he asks me if there is anything wrong, he feels for me, but quickly dismisses my moodiness, by giving me the freedom to start two new table's of silk on my own, "whatever I want to paint."

 

We work together, gathering images for me to work from by diving into his stash of tear sheets, postcards, printed memorabilia from the '40s and '50s, as well as several of his favorite books like Monet, and Renoir, featuring old paintings of floral bouquets in vases. I decided to paint on one of the tables, a mostly blue and green floral bouquet in a glass jar, from a Monet painting. On the other table of silk, I consider going "shotgun"- without any reference material and paint from memory, and my imagination, a floral landscape featuring one of my favorite spring flowers from Maine, Lupin.

 

I start with the Monet, first by mixing up many shades of blue, from pale, too bright and dark Cobalt, Ceruleum, and teal blue. After testing these colors at the edge of the table of stretched silk, I mix up a medium violet, two shades of lavender, one warm, the other cool, then greens as well as a silver, "straight from the can, with vinegar, no alcohol." As Ed and J.A. previously advised me. Confronting the blank, massive table of white silk I jump in by outlining with a Chinese brush silver dye for the bouquets, placing them "Ying, Yang," as James has directed me to do, "better placement possibilities for Josephine's process of arranging the paper patterns on the silk for cutting."

 

Once I get the outlining done, I begin instinctively filling in colors into their appropriate flowers, petals, leaves, and jars. James encourages me to work fast, as it will look much fresher, "Address the entire table, equally with shapes and color, then move on to your second table to do the same, giving the first one time to dry."

 

That was the best silk painting for production advice I've ever had, I have realized later in life. I am then left alone to work on both tables. I start painting my second table of silk by sketching out images of Lupine and Hollyhocks with the big Chinese brush dipped again in the silver dye. Immediately after I sketch them out, I drop in the shades of Lavenders, and Violet for the Lupine, and a Rose Quartz and Pale Pink for the Hollyhocks, I then realize that I want to add some Roses, for the Pink and Scarlet shade it seems to need. The Lupine is upright, coming from the base of the length of silk. I then add mint and celery green for the stems and leaves. Sensing that the design needs something somber, I add giant Blue Bells in an icy Pale Blue.

 

James, taking a break from his phone calls, comes over to take a look. I ask him what color he imagines the ground having?

 

"Butter Yellow, it's perfect for Suzy! She'll LOVE it! She loves roses and that coral color, it's stunning, beautiful, FABULOUS!" I must have had a perplexed look on my face, as I had no idea who "Suzy" was?

 

"Who's Suzy?"

 

"Aileen Mehle, Suzy, the gossip columnist from The New York Post! Ed, Josephine, look at this; wouldn't it be perfect for Suzy, she loves Roses and that Mellon Coral color. Butter yellow background, that's her favorite color."

 

Josephine, "I have a length of feathered marabou in that coral color, I could use on cocoon jacket for her!"

 

Ed, "That would be fabulous, Josephine, Nick, I Love it, good job! You're so talented!"

 

Josephine," I can't believe how talented you are, Nickolas!"

 

James, "Yes, he is."

 

"Thanks!" I say. I'm not keen on James Idea of a "Butter" yellow, for the ground color, I prefer Pale Lemon. I think to myself. I'll mix up a pale yellow, a lemon, and butter-like yellow and show the hue on the edge of the table to James.

 

"That's Perfect! Fill it in! I love your other table too. It's pretty; I just want to add some different colors and give it the feel of my hand, I'll do it later."

 

After painting in the background with the approved pale yellow, I let it dry and light up my cigarette, knowing I have earned my break. I stand back and inspect the progression, balance, color scheme, and general effect of the pieces. James joins me with a lit roach slightly blushing, as he confides in me about "The most amazing sex he had last night," at a sex club, with a very famous Russian Ballet Dancer. I consider his story, not appropriate for a work environment; I show no interest in the tales of his sex life, I excuse myself to go pick up lunch.

 

After lunch, the tables dried, James tells me, "The Butter Yellow background is perfect. Lift it." James has me pin the large hanging frame with 55" silk satin charmeuse. It is an exquisite, luxurious heavy silk; we discuss what I'll paint next. James asks If I can paint ballerinas.

 

"Sure," I say, I'll look at your book of Degas."

 

"Why don't you make them the size of a hand, or a little larger, and place them, Ying Yang, all over." We both agree instantly that I should use all pastels for the male and female ballerinas outfits, and Indigo, or maybe better yet a black for the background. I start drawing out the figures with his Chinese brush, then I fill in the poof skirts with pastels in pinks and yellows, celery, and pale blue. I add shades of skin tones, for their outstretched, arching, kicking and jumping limbs and steady faces.


Soon Josephine comes over to admire my work. She giggles uncontrollably, comments on her favorite poses, and jokes with James and me," Why don't you draw some squatting, or in more obscene, ridiculous poses? You can draw anything! If I were you, I'd take advantage of that. Really, You are so talented!"

 

We all talk about how great they'll look when I get the wax on and give it a background of black. I feel so satisfied that I'm able to create something of so much value and beauty. I can't imagine any other job where I would have so much freedom to do so.

 

I soon heat the mixture of beeswax and paraffin and begin to apply it, as a resist on top of the figurines. Then I give the first coat of indigo dye to the background, all the time laughing with Josephine, Ed, and James, about how silly and lovely the ballerinas are. We speak about how we think it would look great quilted, for winter coats.

 

I work steadily painting through the afternoon; meanwhile, at the front phone desk, I hear James announce to everyone he is going to call his favorite Vogue editor. As she answers, he puts her on speakerphone; he then proceeds to boast about his conquest from the last night, telling her all forms of details. He soon realizes he has to take her off the speaker as to the nature of her inquisitions. I Try to work on in oblivion, yet still feeling very judgmental about the conversation going on next to me. Soon, we all get a visit from "Snake," a close friend of James. Snake turns out to be a hilarious queen named Kevin; he has us all in stitches for his entire visit, from his cunning and cutting comments, I realize how he got his nickname. Meanwhile, Mark, the new boyfriend shows up, everyone admires my work from the day, we break to chum around, and take photos of each other.

  

 

After hanging up the drying frame of ballerinas, James has me pin down another table of silk, this time to paint stripes on. Snake jokes with him, and myself about how much of a "slave driver" he is, and we all agree. Painting stripes with James is fun and much less stressful than the previous ballerinas. James asks, "What do you think of Tommy Hilfiger's stripes?"

 

I reply, "I think yours are much, much more different and unique, you use much more exciting colors, better shades, more diversity of hue, value, and tone."

 

What is so fun about painting the stripes is that we work together, one of us at either side of the table, handing the brush to each other to finish where one of us can not reach. We choose our colors spontaneously, agreeing on instantly on everything. We finish After five o'clock.  I'm amazed by the vividness of the table of silk. "Amazing, Fabulous!" We all agree.



I prepare to head to the dry cleaners, James and Mark, to Chelsea Gym. I agreed to meet James and Mark that evening, at the Loft, around 10 p.m. to go to the Boy Bar. It is Thursday night, and there are drag shows every Thursday," Everyone will be there! You really must see it!" James urges me.

 

That night I take a cab with James and Mark to Boy Bar, in St. Marks Place. Upon entering, I notice that Debbie Harry is holding court at the front bar, surrounded by a considerable entourage. Next to her is Jean Paul Gaultier. We order our drinks while a whole cache of brazen, young, handsome men begin to surround my boss. Mark and I make a toast together, about James Fabulousness.

 

When Ru Paul recites her "Chantele" skit on stage, everyone is in hysterics! I get home at 2:30. Before leaving, James tells me, "It is okay if you're a little late for work tomorrow."

 

I arrive for work the next morning at 9:30, to find Josephine quietly pinning patterns to painted silk. The rest of the Loft is empty, except for all the artwork of the previous day's creation. It all does look fabulous, the Ballerinas, the unfinished Monet Florals, the vibrant stripes! I Look to see the list of appointments for the day and see that a client, Julia Meade, is scheduled for 11:00, and Michelle (James illustrator) is coming at 2:00. James had told me last night about how talented Michelle was for drawing fashion illustrations. I do a quick clean up and prepare the desks for the morning. The phone seems to be ringing, off the hook, and I take messages the best I can.

 

James enters around 10:00, with cups of coffee, animated with anticipation, for his visit with the movie star. He tells me how "wonderful" Julia is, and that "probably, she'll bring her daughter, who is also stunning, A Knock Out."

 

I continue to give further coats of indigo dye to the ballerina print until it is entirely jet black when dry. Then I address what needs changing of the Monet inspired floral. I add some warmer colors and extra flowers until I am pleased with it.I turn thehot plate on for the wax to heat up, in preperation to seal it for introducing a background color. I look forward to seeing how James' spontaneous brushwork will liven it up.

 

Julia and her daughter arrive promptly at 11:00, and are delighted to see all the new work in progress. They love their unique dress designs that Josephine fits too their body and hemline preferences. James is glowing all morning; we are all happy to see Edward arrive at noon, hands full, with a delicious lunch for everyone. I help arrange it onto plates, as Ed takes control of the crazy, constantly ringing phones.

 

After lunch, I tend to the packing and shipping needs of the day. Packages of new designs to Henri Bendel's, which Ed insists he'll hand-deliver, and a box of "Ungaro" like draped, large flower print image dresses going to a boutique in Dallas.

 

After Julia and her daughter exit, William, and I clean up from lunch. James asks me if I would try on dresses from the line so Michele will have a model to sketch from. I flatly refuse, knowing I had no shower, from running late this morning.

 

When Michelle arrives, I am charmed by her, low key, down to earth nature, I agree to drape new designs over my frame for her. She starts by laying out all her art supplies, wetting her watercolors, and reviewing the pile of W.W.D. covers James has given her to reference new design ideas. James and Michelle work together as a team on his design ideas. Her knowledge of what was happening in the New York high fashion scene is as "insider" as it gets. She tells me, "I have just been sketching at Bill Blass's design studio, He is doing above the knee, puff skirts big time for fall." James has her sketch silhouettes of short Kimono like tops, over short skirts, oversized "painter smocks" over Capri pants, and a series of YSL inspired "Smoking" suits. She fills her sketched silhouettes in with the colors and imagery of our new silk designs. I am amazed by her ease of skill, swiftness of hand, and talent for rendering the fashion Croquis. James is enjoying getting into his creative process of designing, he lets his flamboyance, and imagination come out. He is continually interrupted by the parade of handsome boys and young men, who are dropping by to say hello this afternoon. A typical Friday afternoon at his Loft, I realize.

 

After Michelle finishes and leaves James with ten to fifteen new croquis, James leaves with the most handsome of his boyfriends for the Chelsea Gym. I'm exhausted, l lay down to nap on the bed in the rear end of the Loft. Before I fall asleep, I tell myself, "spend the weekend at home coming up design ideas for James, Fall Line. Plan for both new prints and fashions, and put them down on paper in full color, to show James on Monday." While I nap, China snuggles up, on top of me, only to dig her claws in when I try to get up.





The Sedgeunkedunk Stream

 

The Sedgunkedunk is a stream located in Orrington Maine. It is the singular waterway that connects the Penobscot river, to Feilds Pond, and Brewer lake beyond. I am often curious as to the meaning of the peculiar sounding, Native American name. I once asked a Native friend of mine as to its origin, to which he replied: "White man came and dumped their junk." 

 

Knowing he was joking, or maybe half-joking I thought it very clever of him. I then discussed it with another friend of mine, a very creative, and forward-thinking woman, who also happened to be a native of Orrington. She said perhaps he was right, and maybe the literal translation is, "Smith's Junk", -Smith is the name of one of the Pastors of the "Smith Meeting House" located in East Orrington, as well as his estate adjunct to the Sedgeunkadunk. I thought that to be hysterical! My apologies to the respectable Smith family, I if I have offended any of them, I had the honor of delivering their newspaper as a boy, and they always tipped well.

 

I am very familiar with the portion of the Sedgeunkedunk that passes through East Orrington. Here it snakes along a wide sedge meadow, that is lined by series of Birch, Alder, Maple, and various, tall pine trees, that border a large descending field. This is the field of Meadow View Farm, where I spent my youth, and have later returned to live. 

 

This stretch of the Sedgeunkedunk is surrounded on both sides by large areas of wetland marshes. Growing here are vast amounts of sedge grass, water lily's, both white and golden, as well as numerous patches of Bulrushes,(Cat-Tails), cranberry bushes, and legion other types of wetland flora.

 

During the summer, I have greatly enjoyed my practice of painting the pink translucent petals of the white Water lily population, with my watercolors, while sitting in a canoe. At another location, Upon the ridge of the field, halfway up the hill I often sat painting the brilliant viridity of the undulating treeline along the banks of the field. 

 

 

 

 During the Fall and Winter, I have picked buckets of glistening crimson red cranberries while floating in the canoe or walking on the ice. Many hours of exultation were spent skating on the black ice of the winding, frozen stream, or the vast, open, tundra-like area of the silent, winter landscape before me.

 

 On one winter expedition, I tied Jag, our Norweigian Elkhound on a long length of rope, as he pulled me forward on my skates I basked in the awe-inspiring scenery. Jag plummeted ferociously ahead, running steady to the sounds of cracking ice being made beneath us. We would continue for miles like this until we'd reach the Brobdingnagian vastness of Feilds Pond. Upon the arrival of this unbearably icy, and windy domain we immediately began our return to the more hospitable region of the Sedgunkadunk. For the return trip, I would now have to pull, Jag back over the foreboding sounds of the cracking ice.

 




 

During spring, summer, and fall canoeing with the company of our enthusiastic Elkhound's was a preferred way of traversing this majestically verdant, and pristine waterway. While I immersed myself in the unique habitat, I'd let the elkhounds jump out of the canoe, to do there own exploring. One particular disturbing memory was when "Luba" the female Elkhound returned to the canoe with a duckling in her mouth.

 




 

 Trig, another male elkhound usually spent all his time relentlessly digging atop muskrat homes that populate the stream. He would alternate from barking loudly, to sniffing the intense smell of musk, and then proceeding to dig, repeating this cycle over and over until we returned home.

 

Once, while exploring I encountered a pair of Common River otters, swimming alongside the canoe. The elongated sinuous body streamlined into the dark ebony water beside me. I gawked at the elusive sensuality of their wet, leathery pelt. Unhindered they disappeared, flush beneath the saturnine waterway. 

 

Wildlife was so abundant along the Sedgeunkadunk that at any moment one would hear the loud ruffling wings of a lone Blue Herring taking flight, or the flop of a large fish jumping out of water. Upon looking in the direction of the plopping sound, all to be seen was a resonating series of circular rings echoing on top of the liquid ceiling.

 

One memorable outing was canoeing with my “naturalist" of a neighbor, June. As we reached the small floating island halfway down the stream, she encountered the presence of a very small spotted turtle. June picked it up, and gently rejoiced in her delicate acquisition. I new all turtles in these waterways were threatened and endangered. I also felt this one has such a magical, and unfettered life swimming in the depths of the Sedgeunkadunk, that I felt we should appreciate it and then return it to its bliss-full existence. So I asked her to put it back, with June lovingly did.

 

 


 

In various attempts to escape my prying curiosity, small flocks of Golden Eye Ducks, upon my approach, would immediately take flight as I  arrived in the eye-sight of their sacred habitat.  As they bounded into the air, a loud flutter of wings was heard and then a high, sweet whistling noise lasting several seconds until they relocated downstream, or upstream.

 

 I have always been in awe of this stunning species of duck, with their acute sense of alertness, and insistence of privacy from humans. I could never really get close enough to then document their splendor with a photograph.

 

Perhaps the most distinguished, pertinent, and tenacious, year-long resident of the Sedgeunkadunk is the Osprey. On the stretch of the stream that runs parallel to my parent's property this large raptor once nested.

 

I have witnessed Ospreys many times circling high above the stream. While scanning for fish far below, they seem to hesitate and hover mid-air while flapping their wide wings in slow motion, and then immediately, and definitively plummet, headfirst into the water to catch their prey.

 

Occasionally I am astonished to see a large pickerel captive in the snare of their talons, as the Osprey victoriously beats its massive wings against the water's surface until they are air bound again, and return to their nest to feed their mate, and young.

 

Ever too often, I am diss-concerned by seeing the failure of such a grand venture. I wonder if they will go hungry, at least for the time being, until they are triumphant again. For the Osprey to survive at these odds, they appear to me to be the ultimate example of perseverance.

 

Ever too often, I am diss-concerned by seeing the failure of such a grand venture. I wonder if they will go hungry, at least for the time being, until they are triumphant again. For the Osprey to survive at these odds, they appear to me to be the ultimate example of perseverance.

 

 

 

As a youngster, not a summer went buy that one of my siblings or myself did not encounter a snapping turtle. My Father used to capture large ones, and bring them home for us children to examine, he would teach us of their awesome strength, and danger. For this lesson, he would hold a long, study branch next to their neck, at which the ferocious prehistoric-looking turtle would snap at, and break it in half. Hear my father would say, "That could be one of your fingers If you were stupid enough to try to pick him up."



Sounds of Sedgeunkedunk



"There's music in the sighing of a reed; there's music in the gushing of a rill; there's music in all things; if men only had ears." -Byron

 

The sounds emanating from the habitat aside the Sedgeunkadunk change greatly with the seasons. In winter one hears the harsh rushing of the winds, the cold whispers of zephyr, or the innate, impregnable silence of the surrounding frost. Soon that reassuring silence is broken by the ruthless fracturing of ice.

 

When one walks upon the hardened snow, and ice a distinct crackling sound is heard with every step. I once took a video of my toy Pomeranian, Foxy, alongside the company of her wolf-like companion Jag. Foot-loose and fancy-free they both ran on top of the hardened snow, along-side a frozen, floating island that stands midway through this expanse of the Sedgunkadunk. When I play it back I am mesmerized by the sound of steady, constant crackling of snow being crushed underfoot.

 

On a less formidable winters day you can hear the chirp of chickadees, the up, and down notes of the Cardinal, and constantly hesitating peck and drumming of the Woodpecker, and the kawing of the local crows. A word of warning from the cautious Crow, "Never should one attempt to cross the frozen stream, there is a constant flow to the running stream, which melts the ice in the center rather quickly."

 

As winter comes to an end, and the ice melts in the center of the Sedgeunkadunk flocks of the bashful Golden Eye return. Again, as I cautiously approach with my camera in hand, they replay with circumspect splendor the whistling flutter of wings to avoid my presence. Ernest Hemingway refers to this sound as "the ripping of silk" in his novel "Old Man and the Sea". I love that description, as being a silk painter I have ripped many, yards of silk in my time.

 

On winter evenings you can hear the haunting rendition of the Bart Owls "who cooks for you?", repeated soulfully, over, and over as other types of owls, trill, and screech along. I am no expert on Owl hoots so I can not really tell you who's hooting who. 

 

Often I am woken up from deep sleep, to hear the unbashful, constant, and loud repetitive yipping of a pack of coyotes, announces to nature that they have made a kill.

 

At daybreak, in Orrington I often awake to the lovely ascending "oooOOOO hoooOOO hoooOOO" of the Morning dove, only to be interrupted by the loud jeer of a Blue jay.

 

 As spring evenings arrive there is one all-encompassing sound we all know. The spring peepers. Many are the night that I lay in bed, washed into to sleep by the constant "peep peep peeps" permeating through the air from the mating call of these melodious tree frogs.

 

In the summer all types of songbirds are heard, singing, and chirping away. There are so many, and they so well know and appreciated by so many, that it would be redundant to list them all here.

 

 I will focus on one outspoken citizen of the Segeunkadunk. The Red-winged Blackbird. Earnest is the sound of the cool crescendo from this thoughtful bird. My youngest sister once made a recording while standing beside the edge of the Sedgeunkadunk, a definitive noise rising above all the other chatter of summer birds, was the watery warbling that this bird imbues.

 

With the arrival of fall, my favorite sound to be experienced is that which one hears when startling a family of grouse, or other game birds in the bushes. The overwhelming sense of urgency that is made by their drumlike, fluttering of wings, rushes up before you, in what seems like an attempt to capture the sound of eternal struggle.





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