“Lighting in a Bottle”
© 2023, Watercolour, 21” by 12”
This painting is based on a memorable experience I had on Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick in Nov of 2022. The excitement started on the ferry when I had a close call and almost lost my phone overboard, which would have been a disaster since I had one of those phone case/wallet combinations that held all of my credit cards, ID, and cash.
This is, what we call in the business, foreshadowing.
I had planned to spend the day exploring the island and looking for places to photograph my trusty bottle (the same one I use for all of my “boat in a bottle” paintings) which is what eventually brought me to Long Eddy Point Beach, a broad, kilometers-long stretch of smooth cobblestones on the northern tip of the island with just enough time to photograph the sunset behind my bottle before I had to run to catch the last ferry.
I’d heard that the tide in the Bay of Fundy came in quickly, but this was my first experience with it up close and personal. Within about three minutes, the waves that had been crashing into the rocks about twenty yards away from me were soon knocking my bottle about, putting it in danger. So, slipping my phone into the breast pocket of my jacket, I bent over to retrieve the bottle. Then, stepping back from the rapidly approaching water, I saw another photo op and reached for my phone.
To my horror, it wasn’t where it was supposed to be.
Even as the water inched higher with every crashing wave, I frantically searched for my phone, eventually coming to the realization that, when I’d tried to pocket it earlier, I’d missed, and the fragile device was now somewhere in the swirling water that was already about six inches deep and, well, deepening.
As I checked and rechecked my pockets, I invented a number of new curse words because, as I’d already mentioned in that nifty piece of foreshadowing earlier, my smartphone had one of those stupid wallet combinations that also housed all of my credit cards, ID, and cash. Everything I would need to, y’know, drive the twelve-hundred kilometers home to Ontario.
Over the next five minutes or so, I went from gingerly hopping around on the slippery rocks and bending over to search for the phone, to getting right down and crawling around in the water while desperately grabbing at every rock that felt like a cell phone. It was an act that was made all the more difficult by the fact that every new wave that came in knocked me over, the frigid water shocking the breath out of me in the process.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that the situation was both hopeless and dangerous. I didn’t know exactly where to look for the phone in water that was now well over a foot deep and, even if I did, the crashing waves made it impossible to conduct a proper search. I was going to have to admit that the phone was lost and had likely already been swept out by the undertow.
I got to the ferry in time, grateful that I’d bought my ticket earlier, but, as I waited in line, something told me not to give up so easily. The tide would go out eventually, right? Why not stick around and mount a search? Oh sure, the phone itself would be toast and my credit cards scattered all over the beach but maybe, if I was very lucky, I might find a few that would help me get home.
So, fast forward to the wee hours of the morning (when the tide had gone out) and I was back on the beach with my headlamp, crawling over the slick stones, determined to beat the odds, visualizing me finding my phone; declaring my intent out loud with each forward shuffle. I had already been on that cold, dimly-lit beach for the better part of three hours, and had threatened to give up at least a dozen times, mostly because the search area was immense and the nooks and crannies in which my stuff could be hiding, innumerable.
But still I persisted, if, for no other reason, than I didn’t want to let my family down.
Thanks to the earlier generosity of the staff of a local restaurant called The Seaquel, I’d been able to make a direct phone call home, and my loved ones had offered to help, but there was no way I wanted to inconvenience them any more than necessary. They’d discussed various ways to send me money, and I told them to wait until I’d had a chance to look for my phone. Then, they’d laughed politely, thinking that the odds were stacked too highly against me.
Far be it for me to brag, but I was about to prove them all wrong.
At first, I wasn’t sure if I was imagining what I thought I saw in that dark crevice between two large cobbles. I had, of course, been visualizing this very thing for several hours, but this one was different. Not only was the object perfectly flat, it appeared to have a little hole where a charging cable plugged in. It was dark though, because my headlamp battery had begun to fade, so I reached slowly into the crevice, not wanting to be disappointed again, discovering as my fingers closed around it, that I wasn’t going to be.
I had found my phone!!
Plucking it up out of the crevice while calling out in jubilation, I could see that it was still in its case with the front flap held in place by the magnetic clasp. I opened the flap and I was greeted by something completely unexpected: the glowing face of my phone, showing me the time as well as a number of icons indicating that I’d missed a smattering of text messages and phone calls.
My phone was still alive!
Protected from the pounding surf by the crevice into which it had fallen, there wasn’t a scratch on it and, what’s more, my cards were still all accounted for!
I had beaten the odds.
Afterwards, I was finally able to get a few hours of sleep, but I made sure to get up early enough to stop by The Seaquel for a huge breakfast, one that I paid for with a huge tip. The staff was different than the night before, but I was able to thank Selena, the owner, for the kindness that her employees had shown me by gifting her a framed print of my painting Nova Scotia Blue.
So, if you’re ever on Grand Manan Island, stop by The Seaquel and look for my framed print on their wall. Then tell them that you know the guy who beat the long odds on Long Eddy Point Beach and found his lost phone. Maybe if enough people do it, they’ll name a sandwich after the experience.
You never know; weirder things have happened.
The painting is based on one of the last pictures that I captured before I lost my phone, and it shows the waves bearing down on the bottle as well as some of the crevices I searched. That's also the Swallowtail Lighthouse from the north-east shore of the island.
There’s even an Easter Egg too. To the left of the rock directly below the middle of the bottle is the edge of my phone, just the way it looked when I found it that night when I beat the long odds on Long Eddy.
Lighting in a Bottle
Reproductions of my art are available printed either on paper or canvas. Both formats are signed by me, the artist, and are high quality, full-colour prints of a high resolution scan or photograph of the original painting. All prints are inspected to ensure that the colours match the source and created using inks that are guaranteed to resist both fading and UV light.
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Now, if you've ordered a print that is not a standard sized when matted, then I highly recommend that you go back and order it in a frame. As described in the sister section Frames, I do all my own framing using reclaimed wood and am affordable.
If you want to avoid matting and framing altogether, then I suggest that you order the canvas option. I stretch the canvases myself using reclaimed wood and, with a profile that is an inch and a half thick, the art will make a strong statement on your wall.