Thursday, January 17, 2013

"There's A Story Behind This Poppy Field", miniature palette knife oil painting

A couple of years ago, my husband and I traveled to Italy, to the region called Umbria.  It was my first time in Umbria and I noted a difference from other regions of Italy -- this one seemed to be less traveled by American tourists, as opposed to, say, Rome or Tuscany.  As is often the case, I was on a "mission", to gather reference photos for my painting and the subject matter was, you guess it:  red European poppies!!!!! 

We cruised the highways and by-ways of Umbria, up and down the roads we went on our hunt.  It was easy to find numerous red fields, being May, and there were many poppies around in full bloom, not only in the fields, but parking lots, and up in olive groves.  They grow everywhere, very prolific.

Trevi is a small hill town not far from Montefalco, which was basically our home base; we stayed a couple of miles out in the country at a bed and breakfast (La Turrita), one of the best we've stayed at while visting Italy.  We drove the car up the road to Trevi, parked it, walked around the town a bit and ventured to the wall around the town where we could take in the surrounding view.  Lo and behold, looking out a couple of miles we saw a monstrously huge poppy field in full bloom.  Shortly after, we drove out of Trevi, looking for this beautiful field. 

After about 20 minutes of driving around in our little Fiat rental car, we discovered the poppy field.  We pulled into a large patch of flat field and I hopped out with my camera.  My husband said, "go crazy, I'll be right here in the car, checking out the map, take your time with your photography!"  Sounded great to me, so I bent and kneeled, taking shots of the papaveri with more sky, less sky, to the left, to the right, straight on -- many, many shots.  Okay, I was ready to leave -- I hopped back into the car, we backed up, he asked "are we clear?", I said "yes, as far as I can see" -- and then -- we didn't move more than a couple of feet -- I opened the door to double check what was behind us -- there was nothing behind us on the right rear side, nothing AT ALL!!!!  We were firmly on the ground with three wheels, but nothing was behind the fourth -- a patch of tall weeds was hiding a ditch about 3-4 feet deep -- my heart began racing and pounding. 

As my husband carefully climbed out of the driver's seat, I slid over the manual shift, into the driver's seat -- and there we were -- one wheel mid-air -- with no way to extricate ourselves from our precarious situation.  This was a quiet part of Italy, there was little traffic off the two lane road, many people in the region didn't speak English -- what was to be done?   Fortunately a motorcyclist started to speed by us and we were in his view....I leaned out the window and started screaming, hands waving wildly, damsel in distress style, and in English:  "Help! Help! Help!" at the top of my lungs. 

The motorcyclist stopped, pulled onto the patch of grass in the field where we sat and spoke to us -- in Italian. I grabbed the English-to-Italian dictionary, we spoke with him as best we could (which included much gesturing) -- and he conveyed to my husband to go to the house at the top of the hill, see if the residents there had any tools to aid us -- which my husband did.  Unfortunately the elderly couple who resided in there also spoke no English and couldn't understand our predicament.  Luckily, Massimo, our new found Italian motorcyclist friend, called another gentleman on his cell phone for aid and then yet another Italian driver on the road who happened to be driving a two truck stopped to aid us.  With much in the way of patience and know how, they towed us out of our field location, gradually pulling the tire back to terra firma and saving us from much in the way of insurance issues with the rental car agency.  It was a calamity in the making but the goodness of human nature prevailed with total strangers!  How lucky were we! 

Massimo and the other two men wouldn't accept anything in the way of our gratitude other than "grazie, grazie, mille grazie"!  We went back our bed and breakfast and told our story to the owner.  I shook for several hours following the episode.

Ah, what we do for our reference photos!  Now you know the story of the poppy field painting!!!!  Thanks for looking....

"There's A Story Behind This Poppy Field", unframed 5"x7" palette knife oil painting on panel, $70 includes s/h in the continental U.S., click Paypal button below or write me at for more information


 Greetings from Fort Collins, Colorado!

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