Art Book Singing and Unveiling Celebration of “Where is Sam?” in Sarasota

“Where is Sam?”

Sarasota’s Stakenborg-Greenberg Fine Art is pleased to announce the unveiling of “Where is Sam?” This magical children’s book exhibit of original 3-D paper cut pages is sure to please the young and young at heart and will include a lively reading and book signing, a hands-on paper cutting demonstration, and a holiday celebration for all ages Friday, December 22 from 5-8pm at 1545 Main Street. The exhibit and book signing will continue Saturday, Dec. 23, from 10am-2pm.
The engaging story of hide and seek and enchanting paper cut illustrations were a collaboration of two Baby Boomer Grandmothers and friends, Longboat Key/Vermont author, Sandra Stillman Gartner, and Sarasota/Bradenton/Vermont artist, Marguerite Jill Dye.
Sandra Stillman Gartner, journalist, actress, producer, and filmmaker, was inspired to write the delightful story while playing with her grandson, Sam. “Whenever he covered his eyes with his hands, he believed that I couldn’t see him. After we played from morning till night, we collapsed in a heap, sprawled out on the floor.”
Marguerite Jill Dye, artist, author, and columnist said, “The moment I read ‘Where is Sam?’ paper cuts à la Matisse came to mind! With a colorful palette and sharply edged forms my vivid paint samples took on new life. Soon a magical, whimsical paper cut world began to emerge as I cut up new shapes.”
Where is Sam? Where is Sandy? Where is Silas? “Where is…?” is a common refrain in the timeless game of hide and seek. The story follows a boy to his “Gamma’s” house where the two play their favorite game all day. Sam finds new discoveries around every bend, excitement and fun as he makes new friends. You’re sure to enjoy his escapades and delight in the surprise at the end. In the book’s final pages children are encouraged to create their own paper cut art, so paper and scissors will be on hand to help everyone add to their very own book!
When life seems unsettling, it’s comforting to find a book that reminds us of magic and joy. How better connect with delight and love than through a little child and his grandmother’s games and hugs?
​​​​​​​​​​​ For further information, please contact:​​
Marguerite Jill Dye Cell: 941 587-5279 Sandra Stillman Gartner Stakenborg-Greenberg Fine Art, 941 487-8001


Pandora’s Box

69 Mountain Meditation
Pandora’s Box by Marguerite Jill Dye in this week’s issue of “The Mountain Times”
With the onslaught of accusations and testimonies of victims of sexual abuse, America has begun to awaken to oppressive cultural behaviors we’ve accepted far too long. Pandora’s Box has opened up! As a woman and as an American, I feel continuously repulsed by our current leader’s attitude and actions. I think many people don’t realize how utterly humiliating, depressing, and disempowering it is for many of us to have a president whose face we see and whose ugly words we hear every day. WE ARE A NATION ABUSED.
I feel that we’ve lost our way as a nation and a people. Our values and rights have been turned upside down by a government that no longer defends them. We’ve been taken for a ride by a government scam, and a rich and powerful con man. It’s so disheartening, it’s gotten me down. Recently I’ve found it extremely challenging to maintain a positive outlook and some days, it’s been beyond my capability. I’m still in bed at 10am trying to figure out what to do, where to go, and what to write. Perhaps writing is just what I need because getting feelings down on paper can be very therapeutic. But when the whole structure of our nation and the people in power are so reckless and scandalous, it threatens my feelings of personal power over my life and destiny. A counselor suggested I recite “The Serenity Prayer,” and “accept the things I cannot change” to help me get through this period.
Yet, I grew up believing each one of us has the capability to change the world, and that if we set our minds to it, we can accomplish most anything we can imagine. For most of my life, I’ve wanted to wake up each day and know what I could do to help improve the lives of suffering people and manifest a more loving, caring, compassionate world. But in the current climate in America, I feel powerless and depressed. I believe we’re all connected and that each and every one of us has a divine spark, although, at times we may feel separated from that spark, or be unaware or disbelieving in it. It’s that separateness that gets us in trouble, but as we discover our strengths and special gifts, we can strategize and spread transformative energy into our periphery, family, community, country, and world. I firmly believe that each one of us has worth and we are equal under God.
So based on what I believe, why have I been feeling so incredibly discouraged? At times I wonder, is there no justice? What has happened to the common sense that we were once known for and the freedom and human rights that we’ve always stood for? This is a difficult time to maintain spirit and optimism. What we’ve always cared for and cared about has been replaced by an anti-morality, new form of “religion” that’s a wolf in disguise. There’s nothing holy about it.
When I spoke with a conservative friend the other day, she had no idea why I felt so discouraged. She knew nothing about the proposed tax cut plan that will cut taxes for the wealthiest corporations and richest 1% while raising taxes for the poor and middle class, the vast majority of Americans. She hadn’t heard that the elimination of the health insurance mandate would cost many lives and result in 13 million uninsured. She thought it didn’t matter because “the uninsured don’t want medical coverage anyway.” She said “hunting elephants is a help to them,” and when she said, “the president has finally returned family values to America,” I couldn’t believe my ears and nearly blurted out, “well, yes, Trump certainly values nepotism.” I took a deep breath, thinking about the Obama Family’s eight exemplary years, and realized how distant I must be from conservative, “middle-America.”
It’s unimaginable, but not surprising, that our president, a sex abuser himself, stood in defense of Roy Moore, a pedophile judge and candidate for the Senate who stalked and sexually abused teenage girls. This child predator could be elected to serve in the Senate, just long enough to vote for the tax cut that will save the Trump family, alone, one billion dollars. But the good news is that Donald Trump and Roy Moore have paved the way for a national discussion, a rethinking of the despicable behavior and lack of accountability that they share with countless other men. Women are finally breaking our silence on how we’ve been treated all of our lives. With the “Me Too” movement, women who’ve felt too powerless and fearful to speak up, who’ve suffered in silence far too long, are speaking up and supporting one another. This movement has dredged up memories of lifelong events we’d prefer not to remember. Victimization has been condoned and encouraged by a puritanical, hypocritical society that has always put men in charge and excused their actions with a wink, a shrug, and “boys will be boys.”
We must forge a better way to relate to one another and not “Lord it over.” These are remnants of a servile society, feudalism, and slavery, when the powerful land owner had his way with his slaves, indentured servants, and the women and children owned in perpetuity. Many women who’ve worked for men (which most working women have always done!) can attest that, at times, they’ve had to put up with abuse to keep their jobs, to be promoted, to support their children, and literally to survive. Many men have gotten away with their leers, touching, and forcing their will on women and girls. Enough is enough! It seems their actions may catch up with them now, provided the duration and efficacy of this momentum will last.
“Men who aren’t sensitized early in life are natural predators and women their prey,” my anthropologist friend insightfully said. Then we’ve an evolutionary step to take, teaching sensitivity and learning to treat one another with respect. Education begins at home where children first learn how to behave. By age seven the foundation is set for our subconscious belief system. So setting examples of love and respect, and early childhood education to reinforce these lessons, are needed to turn our society around. “‘The hand that rocks the cradle should rule the world,’ if mothers raise their sons to be enlightened” the anthropologist concluded.
When we tell our children and grandchildren that we love them and will protect them, we must say “don’t do as we say or do,” unless we follow a higher road. Just when we were beginning to make progress in teaching against bullying, we elected a bully into the White House. Now that our society is becoming more aware of the abuse and harassment women have (always) endured, perhaps we’ll vote abusers and predators out of office. These scandals have given me hope because America is finally waking up to forms of injustice it’s high time to correct. The time has come to raise the bar on how we treat one another, women and children, boys and men, people who differ in origin, culture, and color, the poor, disenfranchised, and homeless. We all need to learn to treat one another and ourselves with decency and respect and set a good example for the next generations.
Our president has unwittingly led us to the realization that we have secrets that need to be addressed and cultural mores and behaviors that must be challenged and changed as we work together to make America great. Once opened up, Pandora’s Box cannot be forced shut.
Marguerite Jill Dye is an artist and writer who divides her time between the Green Mountains of Vermont and Florida’s Gulf Coast.

“Strong is the new beautiful”

68- “Strong is the new beautiful”–the World Cup, women, and Girls by Marguerite Jill Dye in “The Mountain Times”

At a time when we’re realizing that the glass ceiling has been cracked but definitely not yet shattered, an onslaught of outcries of sexual harassment and abuse in the political, military, athletic, Hollywood, and educational arenas have erupted in the media and through the “#MeToo” movement on social media. It offers those who have been afraid to speak out a united way to attest to the pervasive, long-standing, and on-going mistreatment of women and girls in our own society.

When gold medalist McKayla Maroney broke her silence about her own experience of years of abuse since age 13 by a USA Gymnastics team doctor, she said “This is happening everywhere. . . Wherever there is a position of power, there is the potential for abuse. I had a dream to go to the Olympics, and the things I had to endure to get there, were unnecessary and disgusting.” Organizations must “be held accountable for their inappropriate actions and behavior . . . Our silence has given the wrong people power for too long, and it’s time to take our power back.” (

USA Gymnastics has since taken action by launching an independent review of the chronic mishandling of allegations of abuse which has resulted in new guidelines, requirements, and proceedings. In light of America’s current shift in awareness, it is especially meaningful and encouraging to meet the strong young women arriving in Killington for the World Cup. Their very presence reminds us of the potential of each and every girl and the qualities, conditions, and opportunities needed to reach that potential, and even greatness.

“If you fall pick yourself back up,” Lindsey Vonn said based on her own experience. The 33-year-old from Saint Paul, MN made her World Cup debut at age 16 and Olympic debut at 17. She has been called the most successful American ski racer in history and has won 77 Women’s World Cups and is closing in on the men’s foremost winner, Ingemar Stenmack who’s won 86. Lindsey has experienced the pain of injury, abuse, and defeat, as well as the highs of victory. But her life hasn’t been easy and her Facebook post quotes Emma Watson, “Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do, or cannot achieve. Do not allow it.”

Skiing isn’t Lindsey’s only passion: inspiring girls to follow their dreams is her other purpose in life. The Lindsey Vonn Foundation is “giving the future women of the world the confidence to move mountains” through scholarships, education, and athletics. She is committed to engaging community and the future generation with a positive, constructive atmosphere through girls’ camps, inspiring speaker series and conferences. The foundation was created to empower girls because “the strongest action for a woman is to love herself and shine amongst those who never believed she could.” Lindsey lives by her mottos: “Strong is the new beautiful” and “you are your only limit.”

Another skier on a mission is Kelly Brush whose life completely changed when she hit the lift tower on an icy slope during a race with her Middlebury Ski Team in 2006. While still in rehab from her spinal cord injury which left her in a wheel chair, she decided to start the Kelly Brush Foundation to improve ski racing safety through education, providing safety equipment (such as netting to prevent accidents such as her own), and granting adaptive equipment to disabled athletes. “If this is the good that has come out of my accident then I’ll take it” Kelly said. (

The 90 athletes that will compete in the Audi FIS Women’s Ski World Cup hail from 20 different countries and the event will be broadcast to 2.1 million people in 60 countries world wide. US Ski Team members on the Killington start list are Mikaela Shiffrin, Resi Stiegler, and Megan McJames.

Mikaela Shiffrin, the slalom title winner in Killington last year, is also the youngest racer ever to win an Olympic Gold Medal and the third American to be awarded The Skier of the Year following Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn. Mikaela will join other superstars on the slopes like Lindsey Vonn, Julia Manusco, Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg, and Switzerland’s Lara Gut who will compete on the Superstar Trail in the giant slalom (which now starts 10m. higher up than last year) and the slalom (which begins 70m. higher). Each event will have two runs and the skier with the best combined time wins. Everyone is also looking ahead towards this winter’s Olympics in Pyeonchang, S. Korea.

Last year’s World Cup grand slalom winner in Killington was France’s alpine skier and non commissioned officer, 28 year old Tessa Worley. Her French mother and Austrian father set her on skis before she turned two, then they skied as a family in France and New Zealand year round during her childhood. She’s competed since she was five, and joined her first ski club at the age of seven. Skiing is her passion. She won her first World Cup in Germany at age sweet 16, and in 2007 joined the French Military Ski Team. Her favorite expression is “carpe diem!”

Among the expected 30,000 plus viewers who will don their long Johns and watch from the stands, viewing area, or slope side will be ski enthusiasts, ski racers, and ski club members from near and far who share the love of skiing.

At a time when our world’s so precarious and our moral compass is so askew, it’s uplifting to see young women living life with purpose and courage and fearlessly pursuing their dreams. They’ve discovered their passion and have set their sails for goals and objectives they’d like to achieve, but along the way they’ve reached out to others with a hand up, showing the way. They model hard work, dedication, commitment, and a stellar standard of excellence.
Their strength and focus helps to protect them in a society that doesn’t always protect them, and when they’ve encountered defeat or distress, they’ve reassessed and reset their lives in a way that helps young girls discover their own strengths and live more empowered lives. enables the disabled, and sets new standards of safety and decency.



Sent from my iPhone

Lessons from Silas

67-Mountain Meditation in “The Mountain Times”
by Marguerite Jill Dye

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa

When I feel discouraged, not sure how to cope, or what to say, or what words to write, I’ve found spending time with a child can be the perfect solution to energize. They teach me what matters most in life, how to simplify, and prioritize. Their joie de vivre is quite contagious. It overflows and encourages.

After the latest American tragedy, the unbearable shooting in a Texan church, I shared a few posts on gun control, PTSD, and mental health insurance. I demanded our leaders take a strong stand, then I prayed for the victims, their families, and friends, imagining the unbearable pain they’re feeling. It was so devastating I didn’t know what to write to hopefully uplift and inspire.

But then we were called in to babysit for our two year old grandson in Massachusetts during Mommy and Daddy’s crazy work week. So we traveled south and settled in to play with Silas and care for him. At first I took note of the many ways that Silas entertains and educates two fuddie duddies like Papa and me, struggling to keep up with his energy. Then I saw how when Silas Daniel feels the urge to build and create he doesn’t, for a moment, hesitate to construct tall towers and big bridges. After he builds them, he knocks them down, then reconstructs his buildings again. He doesn’t cry when the tower falls. He’s up and running, building some more. How many times have I given up when failure has knocked my tower down?

Play Dough is perfect for making new shapes–circles and swiggles, squares and stars. Its luscious colors and yummy smell make vibrant designs all the more fun. Unlike grown ups, Silas never thinks, “My canvas is blank. What shall I paint?” He launches in up to his chin to paint what he knows in finger paints.

When Silas wants up, he simply says “up” then someone will surely help him climb up. When he needs more, he just says “more,” then more often than not, more appears once again. He’s learning that “please” is magical, indeed. It helps manifest his most recent wish.

Silas treasures his numerous books and every day he reads many anew. The more he reads them, the more he sees in them. There are never too many books in life! He gets so excited about some of his stories that he shouts the words out loud quite loudly. He learns new words every day then we try to decipher each new word he says.

Silas eats with zeal the foods he craves like cheese wrapped in ham or sliced hard boiled eggs, apples, yogurt, and tangerines, clam chowder, fruit shakes, and peanut butter. But should I cook a special lunch, my delicious dish he might not touch. He knows what he likes and likes what he knows. He grinds the salt and pepper shakers over dinner and vegetable dips. He runs and plays so hard he has nary an ounce of extra weight. It all goes to growing tall like a tree for his Chef Daddy is 6’3″. The little fellow delights in bear hugs–Eskimo kisses and snuggles galore. His kisses are sweeter than chocolate ones and when he blows kisses he cheers us up. He’s funny and sunny on a blustery day. His laugh melts our hearts like the snow in sun’s ray. But you can be sure that when nap time arrives, Gammy and Papa sleep to survive.

The sheer joy and delight that children express reminds us of our connection, divine. Their enthusiasm, “God within,” is still in its purist form in them. I love it most when Silas says “Wow!” in a powerful voice that brightens the day. I love when he calls out his puppy dog’s name, “Shiloh,” his 150lb. Newfoundland. When I look in his eyes and see his sweet smile, I thank God for our greatest blessing of all.

My heart goes to families that lost their loved ones, even young children to violence at home in a nation where leaders fail to uphold safety, a basic human right. How will they save us from extinction when they don’t even believe in climate change? The famous physicist Stephen Hawking said we must save our species by traveling to the next universe before Planet Earth burns up, he predicts, in 100 years. (“Expedition Planet Earth”)

So when vote tallies came in of election results that turned twelve American states around, I finally felt a ray of hope to sustain me in these perilous times. But to save our nation, world, and people we need drastic measures with visionary leaders who are committed to saving our children and our precious Planet Earth.

Marguerite Jill Dye is an artist and writer who divides her time between the Green Mountains of Vermont and Florida’s West Coast.

Terra Non Firma

66-Mountain Meditation published in “The Mountain Times”

Terra Non Firma
by Marguerite Jill Dye

We left Marseille in a powerful Mistral, crossed the Atlantic without event, and landed at Logan in another strong wind, the last hurricane’s tail end that wiped out power across Vermont and Maine. Indeed, it seems the world’s all stirred up. Although I’m always sad to leave Europe, it’s good to be home on familiar ground, to kiss our grandson, hug our son, and drive north through foliage to Killington. Along the way, precious glimpses opened up of lakes and rivers like the Connecticut, through a brilliant, autumn leaf finale.

Once home, the full mountain view appeared. Snow making on Killington I could hear. My joy at sleeping in our own bed, unpacking treasures, and seeing old friends was tampered by jet lag and culture shock, returning home to a land I don’t know. I feel I’ve landed on terra non firma where chaos reigns — it’s the name of the game. Distraction, division, distrust, and collusion; a leader who spews hatred and confusion to distract from his goal, “the deconstruction of the administrative state.” Our new reality is a lynching mentality, — another attack, indictments, and tweets to an audience that is nearly half fake ( My historian husband pointed out that in my last column, the Constitution mentioned by our French friend Jean-Paul, holds our nation to the rule of law. “That’s all well and good,” Duane said, “as long as our leaders and the American people live by the law and honesty is valued. “Ultimately, as with much in life, good government relies on the good faith of those in whom we place our trust. Which is why so much rides on the crew that Trump has put in charge of his D.C. demolition project.” (Time, “The Wrecking Crew, How Trump’s Cabinet is Dismantling Government as we know it”). But in our country many people do their best to skirt the law on this or that. Not paying their fair tax share is like a new national sport. Even our president takes pride in his ability to avoid taxes and controls. He sets a bad example and hires lawyers to keep him safe from paying what he owes, obeying the rules, and following codes. In our society, big business seeks to rake it in, whatever the cost, to make CEOs rich, although many don’t pay a living wage or give their employees benefits. To slight the worker and skimp on pay has become the American norm. It seems the new American dream is to achieve in business, wealth, and gain more and more wealth, endlessly.”

I wonder what happened to JFK’s call, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Inspired by JFK, my husband Duane entered public service to help improve housing for the poor. He also admires Tim Kaine with whom he worked in Richmond at times. Tim’s exemplary life of service stemmed from his Jesuit training. “If more people in office were like Tim Kaine, our nation would be in much better shape,” he said. But we’ve seen how even those with impeccable records whose lives exemplify honesty and American “family values” are chewed up and spit out. What is the cost of American freedom and does it mean every man for himself? Have we returned to the Wild West where guns and audacity rule? What about civility and living in a civil society? Are we really so selfish and crude that if I’ve got mine, tough luck for you? This is not the America I believe in, and I believe I’m not alone. Our homo ancestors came together tens of thousands of years ago to live in community because they were stronger together. Our forefathers created a land and a system to benefit everyone. We’ve ended formal slavery but still need to demonstrate respect for one another and equality in everyday life. Not paying a living wage is another form of modern day slavery.

The contrast between the warm and sunny South of France and bare tree Vermont in cold autumn weather is startling and will take more than adjusting from sandals and tee-shirts to jackets and warm woolen sweaters. I’d somehow hoped to return to civility in a nation in better shape, with saner news than two months ago but the only change is it’s gotten worse. With a bad case of jet lag, it was truly surreal to return at the time of the NYC attack then see on C-Span cyberwarfare’s extent: how Russia managed to create 80 million political posts send to 23 million American voters with Russian accounts that were paid for in Rubles on Facebook, Google, and Twitter. Since 2015, we’ve been under attack with division and collusion to create dissent, anger, distrust against our democracy. When will America and our leaders wake up and reject the players who’ve usurped power with Russian collusion, deconstructing our nation?

It’s time for a change and the party that is sitting on its hands afraid to speak up or waiting to see what’s in it for them need scrutiny. I was surprised to read that in the last 53 years, Democrats have been in the Oval Office for 25 years, while Republicans held it for 28. In their 25 yrs in office Democrats had a total of three executive branch officials indicted with one conviction and one prison sentence. That’s one whole executive branch official convicted of a crime in two and a half decades of Democrat leadership.
In the 28 yrs that Republicans have held office over the last 53 yrs they have had a total of 120 criminal indictments of executive branch officials. 89 criminal convictions and 34 prison sentences handed down. That’s more prison sentences than years in office since 1968 for Republicans. If you want to count articles of impeachment as indictments (they aren’t really but we can count them as an action), both sides get one more. However, Clinton wasn’t found guilty while Nixon resigned and was pardoned by Ford (and a pardon carries with it a legal admission of guilt on the part of the pardoned).
120 indictments for Republicans. 89 convictions, and 34 prison sentences.

Dreams and Recollections from the Côte d’Azur

64 Dispatch from Europe Part VI by Marguerite Jill Dye

Dreams and Recollections from the Côte d’Azur

Ever since my student days at the American College of Monaco, I’ve been in love with the Côte d’Azur. My senses tingle when I return. The air is fragrant with flowers and herbs that waft on wisps of gentle winds, except when the fierce Mistral blows in. Les Alpes Maritimes fall into the sea under a brilliant cobalt sky. Beneath each step of cobbled stone, layers of history await to be found: Paleolithic, Celtic, and Greek, Saracen, Roman, Provençal — castles and towers, châteaux and bridges, aqueducts and hermitages.

Aromas and savors around every bend awaken taste buds. Hunger sets in for daube provençale, a provincial pot roast, mushrooms cooked in a rich cream sauce, soca pie made from chick peas, olive tapenade, and grilled fish on a plank. The tastes of the South both test and delight the palette and brain to identify garlic and tuna, caper, sardine, and pissaladière, a specialty from Nice, an onion pizza with anchovy. The cheese is maturer from goat and cow, and the fruit is sweeter, for “ripeness is all.”

Lest you think I’ve become hedonistic, I’ll report on serious subjects, too. The people with whom I’ve spoken in France have asked me about America’s new stance. They wonder why we’ve abandoned the cause of climate change that’s doing them harm. The lack of rain has caused serious drought for natural wilderness areas and crops. Most of the country’s in danger of fire. Lakes and rivers have shrunk several yards. Snow in the Alps is disappearing. They are also perplexed why Trump keeps tweeting, daring Kim Jong Un of North Korea to launch his missiles over Japan. “Why undo Iran’s nuclear treaty?” they ask, in fear of nuclear war. “We fought on our land an authoritarian leader with dangerous traits and behavior. We want peace. We do not want war!” The people of France are questioning how Americans can be so naive and fail to see what’s happening . . .

A sea gull calls as we board the train that whistles across azur waves. A ship in the distance toots its horn. Children play in surf and sand. The colors astound me. The shimmering sea transforms from turquoise to royal navy. Red and white sails gently float by. Cruise ships drop anchor. Fishing boats glide. Violet and fuchsia Bougainvillea cascade over golden rock walls. Each villa enchants me and calls out my name. “Marguerite! Am I the maison of your dreams?” The pink one with elegant white bas relief, the abode with a tower and balconies, or the terra cotta house overlooking the sea with lemon, orange, fig, and olive trees would all be possible contenders, but alas, their prices are for millionaires. Perhaps writing poems of my favorite homes and painting their portraits will cure my woe: since I was a student in Monaco, I’ve dreamed of a villa perched over the sea. . .

I watch wagging tails of happy pups accompany their masters into boutiques. They trot around on a diamond leash and dine in restaurants like royalty. Lest I forget the patisseries, ooh la la, they’re quite the treat, with almonds, raspberies, chocolate, and cream. They’re buttery, flaky, delicious pastries.
We descend the train in Antibes and walk through the Old Town and market streets to rendez-vous with our friends from Valence over a lunch with wine and dessert.

When Pablo Picasso came south from Paris to Vallauris after World War II, he was offered a studio in the Chateau Grimaldi by the director of the Antibes Museum. For several months he worked night and day, painting on board, canvas, and walls in muted colors with abstract shapes in charcoal and chalky fishing boat paint. He analyzed and reduced nature to cylinders, spheres, and cones. “I don’t paint what I see, I paint what I think,” Picasso explained so others might see. His cubist figures seemed rather strange but he painted volume as flat abstract forms.

During the War, Hitler declared Picasso’s work “degenerate art.” Thousands of paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Klee, Chagall, Beckman, and Nolde were confiscated and stolen by the Nazis. Picasso’s fame had kept him safe but his sense of expression had been under siege. One can imagine the freedom he felt painting furiously in Antibes. He created an enormous body of work, a retrospective and nod to Antibes with fishermen, dancers, boats, and goats,
sea creatures, anemones, and mythology. He painted the owl with a broken wing who perched on his chair and stayed by his side as he painted throughout many a night. For a decade his new love and muse was Françoise Gilot, acclaimed artist/author, who’s still active and working at 95. Art and letters are good for the soul and help keep the body healthy and spry.

Artists and writers have been inspired by the beauty, the light, and the quality of life they’ve found for a lifetime or just a season in the true land of joie de vivre. Renoir bought an olive farm called “Les Colettes” in Cagnes-sur-Mer and painted there. Monet, Dufy, Bonnard, Matisse, Signac, and Cross also came to paint. Writers left the Left Bank of Paris for the sunshine and warmth of the Riviera. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Somerset Maugham, John Dos Passos, Alphonse Daudet. Louisa May Alcott came for a visit and Peter Mayle came to stay. Many writers wrote their best work in the warmth and sun of the South of France.

Friends from Avignon joined us in our time share in Villeneuve Loubet then drove us on the Bas Corniche to Nice and Monaco. We lunched near the Italian border, watching waves in old Menton, then passed a brocante filled with antiques. I picked up a card for real estate. But when we drove uphill to pass through the autoroute toll booth, we were stunned to see French police surveying each car as it passed through. “Perhaps,” I queried, “a robbery?”

“Haven’t you heard how hundreds flee each day from Libya, Somalia, Eritrea, and Syria? If they survive the dangerous boat ride, they land in Italy and come on foot to France, England, or Germany. The police search for immigrants and refugees entering France illegally. They send them back to where they first landed, on occasion to their country of origin, or if they qualify for political asylum, France will house and care for them. Refugees fleeing danger and war, and the climate poor fleeing parched land awaken me from my Côte d’Azur dream.

Marguerite Jill Dye is an artist and writer who divides her time between the Green Mountains of Vermont and Florida’s Gulf Coast.