One of the things I like best about blogging is meeting other bloggers. It is amazing how well you can get to know a person by reading his or her posts. Each of us has a unique take on life.
One of such people is Steve Cotton. He is from Oregon, and now lives on Mexico’s west coast in Barra de Navidad, a small fishing village that’s popular with snowbirds in the wintertime. I imagine the place is a bit like Chelem, a town on Yucatan’s Gulf of Mexico.
Steve entertains me almost daily with stories about his present home and about his former one. He writes about his shopping expeditions to bigger cities, the restaurants he stumbles upon, and the people he meets from all walks of life. I feel like I know his family who visit him frequently. He is a serious Spanish language student, and a man who has taken up walking for health, with a vengeance. He wrote about Mr. Jiggs, his golden lab, and after the faithful dog’s demise, another golden lab came into his life. That pup kept Steve hopping from one doggie-created disaster to another. When the seemingly unstoppable Barco died, way before his time, I cried.
Yes, I love dogs – and I share another of Mr. Cotton’s passions – travel. When I learned he’d be taking a cruise in Australia, I resumed a search I’d let slide for way too long.
My grandfather, Joseph van Waterschoot van der Gracht was a geologist and marine artist on the Mawson expedition that sailed from Tazmania to Antarctica. (Granddad was actually on the second sailing of the SS Aurora in 1912). While in Antarctica, he painted and photographed scenes of camp life, the fauna of Antarctica, seascapes and landscapes.
I knew about a collection of his Antarctica paintings. I knew it was in Australia, and thanks to Steve, I decided to renew the hunt. My internet sleuthing put me in touch with Mark Pharoah, Manager of the Mawson Centre at the South Australian Museum in Adelaide. When Steve posted his cruise itinerary – and I saw that Adelaide would be one of the ports of call – I had to write and tell him my family story.
For me, time in a foreign city is enhanced if I have even a tenuous connection to the place. I figured Steve would feel likewise. I never imagined that during his six hours in Adelaide, a city of more than a million, he would make it a point to visit my grandfather’s legacy. And yesterday in Australia (today for us on the other side of the dateline) Steve Cotton wrote about the experience. You can read his account at this link:
From Steve’s description, the viewing was not at all what he expected.
In the post, you’ll read that he photographed the paintings but did not receive permission to reproduce them for his blog followers. I do however own a painting that I’ve placed at the top of this post. It depicts a stormy sea off Cape Horn early in the 20th century. Granddad was shipwrecked there, and in about 1930, he painted the oil from memory.
Thank you Steve for what you did. I know my grandfather would feel honored to know you went to such lengths to track down his paintings. He would call you – a member of an inquisitive band of intrepid likeminded men and women – an explorer.