Abri is the French word for shelter. I like it. So much of my work is about it: homes, doors, windows, rooms, food. The things that surround us daily. I remember my exhilaration as an art student when we got to Chardin in art history. Not that I hadn’t adored medieval art, but when the kitchen became a sanctuary worth painting, I got pretty excited. And no high priest could compete with the French maid wielding a butcher knife over a bountiful tableful of food, in my small-town mind.
This week we completed our own new l’abri in the garden. It’s an arbor right at the back door. It will not only provide a shady spot for al fresco dining, a la Judy Dench’s Chocolat birthday party, but also drop cool morning shadows across the furniture of the garden room, indoors.
Isn’t it amazing that before we’ve even basked in the yin of summer sun, we fantasize over the intimate yan of cool shadows? Shadows are the things that make both great paintings and parties, alike. And according to legend, affirm our existence…
Which brings me to another Shadow. As our l’abri neared completion this week, my dear friend, Cindy’s feline Shadow approached the end of her eighteen year reign. That’s a long time. As our friend Suzanne said earlier this year on loosing her Siamese princess of nineteen years, it was her longest and most successful relationship. And a certain shady house in the woods in Suwannee, Georgia will miss the comforting shadows of a fine, black lady at feeding time as well as bed time for a long, long time. In my mind’s eye, Shadow will always be casting her image across the coffee table as she sits on her throne, reigning quietly in front of the fireplace.