Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A walk between weather


We're actually having a winter this year! As anyone who tried to get to, through, or around Colorado last week knows, we had a VERY white Christmas. There's another storm working its way here for tonight, so I decided it was finally time to take the walk that has been neglected for several days.

I've a regular route, from home to Sands Lake, up the river, past the fish hatchery, around Frantz Lake, up the mesa and back home. It's about 3.5-4 miles, depending on how many detours I take or how quickly the weather drives me home.

Every walk is different, despite the fact that I travel this same path several times a week, all year long. My t
railmates change with season and time of day... early summer mornings it's often just me and the birds. Today it was me, birds, slush, ice fishermen, families, mule deer, fat squirrels, a road grader still scraping snow from the last storm, and the ominous clouds that signal the next round of white stuff.

Dippers chattered and kingfishers rattled and chickadees chicka-dee-dee-deed, but the stars of the winter are, for me, the ducks. Sands Lake stays open all winter, and starting in late November the surface fills with the waterfowl glitterati: common and Barrow's goldeneye, bufflehead, wigeon, teal, gadwall, scaup, redheads and ringnecks and mergansers. Already the males are flirting with the females and jousting with each other, their buzzing and trilling and feathered sweet nothings reach my ears even before the lake is in sight.

Last winter Sands Lake stood empty. It's the settling pond for the hatchery upriver, and every ten years it must be drained and dredged. It was a lonely, lonely season and I found it difficult to get out and walk past the open wound that was once duck party central. But it's true, that old phrase about absence and hearts and fondness. A full lake, a full quorum of waterfowl, and a full heart add up to a great start for a new year.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

And so it begins!

"Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn whatever state I am in, therein to be content." - Helen Keller

Winter solstice! It's my favorite day of the year, and not just because we're getting a few more moments of light each day (although that is an important factor). Some years ago another artist friend and I began to put our goals in writing, and we chose the winter solstice as our day to get together and share our plans.

At first it was a casual excuse to get together for coffee and dream up big ideas, but over time it has become an important ritual. In the often crazed pre-holiday weeks of December, I enjoy taking a few quiet moments to look over the previous year's goals, to celebrate what I did accomplish, and to review what I didn't. Life is unpredictable and plans change, of course, but it feels good to begin the new season with ideas pinned to the wall.

So my list is made, and already it's evolving! Just yesterday I added a new exhibition to my spring schedule, at cultureclash gallery in Salida, and a new illustration client. I can't wait to get started.

There's new work drying on the rack, too: little linocuts of coastal pines from my Artist-in-Residence tenure at Acadia National Park last year. Despite our arid climate, the last color is taking an inordinate amount of time to dry. Maybe it's the foot of snow we received this week, just in time for the arrival of winter. I think tomorrow it's a return to the brush... there's an image of shadows on snow flitting around the corners of my vision. Time to pin it to the wall, too.