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  • Susan Welsh

Country drives in Country Squires


Back in the 70's when my late brothers Matthew and David resided in Pleasant Manor we would take long country drives on Sundays along River Road, where waterfalls were frozen in icy winter time and wild rhododendron bloomed raucously along the rock wall in springtime.

Sarah Jessica Parker's 1976 Ford Country Squire

Rolling through the narrow passage between the Delaware River and the tall outcropping of ancient black rock in our Ford Country Squire it was easy to understand how this valley inspired so much art.

I'm forever drawn to the work of artists whose canvas reflects the light, beauty and solitude of this majestic piece of the Delaware River Valley--my loneliness instantly quenched by a rendering of the landscape that defines those Sundays and the only time we were all together as a family. So, in the greater sense, these paintings speak to my childhood loneliness, longing for family connection, and the lovely river that always greeted me with serenity, peace, and comfort. I literally ran to the river the day I learned of my brother's death-- sprinting to find my way to the riverbank where my eyes sought refuge in the majestic Beech trees and the sunlit ripples of the current moving serenely towards its many marshes flowing to the Delaware Bay.

In 1920 painter Fern Coppedge bought a home in Lumberville, one of the earliest houses in the village. This house is where the Broadway production of Boy Meets Girl was written while authors Samuel and Bella Spewack were renting the property. The show featured Ronald Reagan and James Cagney and Edward Redfield painted it in the early 40's. You may know The Spewacks from another one of their plays, the Tony Award-winning Kiss Me, Kate.

Coppedge captured the essence of winter along that quaint and winding passageway that runs in tandem with the river. Known for painting outdoors in her bearskin coat, she captured the purples and violets in snow that she saw as a child and translated them into a visual love letter to the river valley in winter. It's those particular colors, deep and cool and vibrant with light that tap into the heart of such a winter's day in the Delaware River Valley.

There's an otherworldly, timeless quality to those tiny towns along the river. A sense of living in unity with the flow of the river, the trickling of the frozen waterfalls thawing in springtime, the lazy, hazy heat of summer along the towpath, light dazzling the landscape along the river. The Bucks County artists are drawn to these qualities, and the best of them convey it onto their canvases and straight to my soul.


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