Welcome to the season of Dark and Wet

Of Cabbages and Kings

This is the season of the survival strategy. What is your tip on how to get through the Season of Dark and Wet?

In November I like to quote the words of Mary Blake: "There is no such thing as inclement weather. There is only inappropriate clothing."

Dr. Bill Armington said the smartest thing he did was to purchase a Key West Jacket made by Gill from Englund Marine Supply. "It would keep me dry if he were standing underneath a waterfall," he said.

My latest remedy for the dark season is Caribbean baseball. If you subscribe to Direct TV, you may ask for ESPN?Deportes, the Latin American version of ESPN. My wife and I did that for the baseball. And last week I got my reward. I tuned into ESPN?Deportes on Wednesday night to find Beisbol de la Republica Dominicana. Yes, indeed, it was baseball from the Dominican Republic, which produces a disproportionate share of Major Leaguers.

The stadium was small, the crowd was exuberant and the players were eager and idiosyncratic. There is non-stop noise through Caribbean baseball games. There are horns, drums, whistles and chanting.

I am in the midst of reading Larry Tye's biography, Satchel, and one of the Dominican pitchers reminded me of Tye's descriptions of Satchel Paige. This Dominican was very tall and appeared almost rubbery in his wind-up. He would be a very disconcerting presence to face on the mound.

Speaking of diminished light in winter, National Public Radio last week broadcast an interview that Terry Gross did with Gordon Willis, the eminent cinematographer (The Godfather triology, Manhattan, Interiors). Willis talked about the properties of light in various cities. He loves New York City's light through all seasons. By contrast, he abhors Los Angeles' light. "It's like shooting a film inside a toaster oven," he said.

Gray days are flattering to Astoria. The town shows off well in fog and mist.

When we have a winter sunrise, the play of light is especially glorious on the river. This is apparent in the paintings of Cleveland Rockwell. The Portland art collector and gallery owner Robert Joki says: "When I first saw Rockwell's paintings, I made a quick comparison to the works of the great Boston Harbor painter Fitz Hugh Lane. Coming from the East after the Civil War, Rockwell was certainly aware of this school of painters known as Luminists."

The radiant backdrop of Rockwell's paintings of sailing ships anchored in Astoria's harbor is what most observers would associate with a sunset. That luminosity - a pink glow - is often apparent in the early morning. Joki suspects that our river light is unique because of the considerable stretch of upriver water that magnifies the earliest sunlight.

The Columbia River Gorge east of Cascade Locks to Boardman is especially interesting in the way that light plays off its cliffs and vegetation of bunch grass and sage brush.

Another breathtakingly beautiful landscape is Highway 395 between John Day and Pendleton. The variety of terrain ranges from shallow canyons to broad vistas that evoke images from John Ford westerns.

- S.A.F.


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