Sunday, October 24, 2010

Signs and sighs

Ooph. Things have been a bit slow in the update department, here at ol' B-and-B. Contract projects have been stacking up, which is both good news and bad news, and studio adventures have been squeezed to a mere trickle.

Wednesday, however, I was able to get outside with a sketchbook. It turned out to be the last sunny, cloudless, wind-free day for the week. Sigh. Our perfect autumn couldn't last forever, I guess.

I made a few sketches for the 100 Thumbnails project, and then settled down with a fresh sheet of paper to enjoy the cozy autumn light and a longer drawing.

Sands Lake this week, with the Sawatch Range in the background
If you know Salida, or if you've read Brush and Baren for any length of time, you're familiar with Sands Lake. It's more of a pond than a lake, really...  Okay, okay... What it really is is the settling pond for the effluent of an upriver fish hatchery. It's a popular spot for fishermen-and-women-and-kids and a great little birding area. The constant in-one-side-out-the-other flow of water through the pond keeps it open for waterfowl even in the deepest part of winter. In late summer the deliciously tall and dense willow shrub can make a stroll around the lake feel like a jungle safari, and the pond's proximity to the Arkansas River makes it attractive to all sorts of migrants spring and fall.

Yeah, I think it's pretty spiffy, too.

Perfection gets a bit of a trim in the autumn, however, when the managers of this State Wildlife Area slash some of the willow to stubs. My first year here I was horrified to come across the post-chopping scene and grumbled that "just because fishermen need access to the shore doesn't mean they should destroy all the willows." Silly me. I understand now that, left to their own devices, the shrubs would take over the trail and I wouldn't be able to even get around the lake, much less walk to the edge to see ducks. And each year they grow back just fine... thick and green and higher than my head.

I hadn't been down to the lake in a few weeks, and in my absence the willows came down for another year. Sigh. Another sign that autumn is waning.

Willow stubs seem pretty unattractive after the verdant exuberance of summer– until you sit down with one. I mean, come on! Look at that thing!

Hmm. The metaphors available for that simple observation are staggering, but I think I'll leave you to connect your own dots. Further signs that autumn is on the wane are piling up in the yard, and signs of winter are piling up on the peaks. Sigh. Gotta go rake before it's time to go shovel.

3 comments:

Cathi Bouzide said...

I loved our time at that pond/lake. I recall the fresh beaver work, a darling boy ripping all over and excited about being there... back and forth to his dad and fishing, and my hubby across the water looking and sketching. A fond memory.

Cathi Bouzide said...

I loved our time at that pond/lake. I recall the fresh beaver work, a darling boy ripping all over and excited about being there... back and forth to his dad and fishing, and my hubby across the water looking and sketching. A fond memory.

Sonya Johnson said...

Wonderful sketch, Sherrie; I had a similar experience while walking along the Animas river trail last week (with camera, not sketchpad, though), and found myself charmed by a dried sunflower head along the trail. I enjoy that I can find beauty in the ordinary and overlooked as well :).

It seems we are getting a taste of some winter weather here today, though.