Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mighty Vole Hunts Ubiquitous Cactus Fruit


What a mouthful this title is! Just for fun, I thought I'd paint from my imagination and see what developed. This one is painted on a Dick Blick Artist's Board, 16" x 20", with Winsor Newton Artisan (water miscible) paints.

I've been absolutely enamored of prickly pear fruit this summer and have spent days boiling and processing the fruits we collected last month. We drove out to the desert northwest of Tucson and collected four large buckets full of the tunas. We tapped our buckets with large tongs to alert any rattlesnakes and kept our eyes to the ground for scurrying scorpions. I can't tell you how fun it was...truly. I felt a connection to the earth as we harvested a little bit of its bounty.

So, I guess I'm the little desert vole seeking fruit that will last through the winter.

19 comments:

susan hong-sammons said...

great title to go with this intricate piece. so many layers, so many stories. What's it all leading to??? I'm so glad you left a lot of leading questions

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

I love the painting and the story of your incredible bravery. I do not do picking of fruit where rattlesnakes and scorpions are part of the equation. And these problems were tossed off so merrily. I would be locked up if either of those creatures were anywhere within a 50 mile radius.

Kudos to you, to your lovely art and your brave heart.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoBarbara

Melinda said...

Ah, the mystery...It is like a chile relleno wrapped in a corn husk, inside a Larua's take-out box.

Stay tuned. ;) And, thank you for stopping by!

Melinda said...

Now Barbara, I think I could convince you to go with me on such a trek, if given a moment to take in the allure of the desert, the clear blue sky and the gentle cooing and clicking of quail and cactus wren.

It's really not that scary. You give me too much credit! But, I'll take it!

Remember the t-shirt that said, "You can't scare me, I have children"? There you are.

Virtual hugs galore!

Linny D. Vine said...

You is one imaginative and mighty little harvester, Melinda! I love it and your title! (Could you describe the flavour of prickly pear fruit for me?)

Jeane Myers said...

fabulous painting and wonderful story :)

kathrynlaw said...

Oh, I love this. Is there any way to see a larger image? It's absolutely gorgeous. What a life-affirming and beautifully optimistic thing to do, gathering food and lovingly preserving it. The true meaning of "investing in your future". :)

Melinda said...

Well this little vole says thankye, thankye, Linny! It gives me much joy to harvest food from the desert. So much, in fact, that I got up at 4:30 AM to begin the processing. I'm a night owl by nature.

The prickly pear cactus juice tastes a bit like a pear, but not as sweet, and with a very mild taste of greenness. I also think that they taste a bit like a strawberry that is not very ripe.

They are high in pectin, so the juice is thick and the color of beet juice. I add a little lemon juice and a small amount of desert honey to my recipe for canning.

You're kind! Next time I'll take photos.

Melinda said...

Thank you, Jeane! I'm in awe of your work and always feel honored when you stop by and comment. You're such an inspiration.

Melinda said...

Thank you, Kathryn! I just uploaded a larger image that you can click on to see some of the detail.

Agreed! To connect to the land, gather food and experience the moment of harvest along with the other creatures is deeply gratifying.

Next year, I'll have to make more trips. I drink the juice every day. I'm hooked.

Joan Breckwoldt said...

Hi Melinda, what a beautiful painting and a great post to go along with it. You are such a good storyteller, both with your words and your paintings, the combination of the two makes me feel like I'm out there picking fruit, and looking over my shoulder!
Joan

Melinda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melinda said...

You've got it, Joan! While harvesting the fruit of the land bypasses the middle man, it's definitely wise to keep an eye out for the wildlife.

Thanks for stopping by!

Karen said...

There is something weirdly (in a good way, that is) three-dimensional about this piece. When I look at it I can't not see it as though the white part is moving off the page...very interesting...

Prickly pears remind me of being a child driving and camping in the Southwest where I'd always make my parents buy me catus candy to bring back to CT. I get it whenever I'm out there now. I now it's a pretty bastardized version of prickly pears, but it makes me smile... I'm sure yours will taste better, though. :)

Melinda said...

How neat, Karen. I like that you are seeing it in a weird kind of way. That's the desert, yes?

The people who make the cactus candy are still in business. It's good stuff, but a little too sweet for me. They now make an assortment of candy with mesquite bean and margarita juice as well. Doesn't that sound yummy?!

If you want a link, I'll send you one.

Thanks so much for your comment. You've made my day!!

Karen said...

I would love the link! Now you know part of Garrett (husband's) Christmas present. :) Thanks!

Melinda said...

(Smiling here)That sounds great, Karen. Here is a link to Cheri's, the cactus candy maker that you'll prolly remember from your childhood. She now offers
c h o c o l a t e covered cactus candy. Whoa. It is really good too. Hope you don't have to re-finance your home after visiting and purchasing from her!

Anonymous said...

I love this abstract. The composition, the colors, everything. So lively and so much to see in the painting.
Jean

Melinda said...

Thank you so much, Jean. I really appreciate your comment. Made my day.