Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A mind like autumn leaves

I don't know how it is where you are, but around here the autumn is a fickle and often short-lived season. So far this year we've been fortunate. We've had a week or two of glorious weather (okay, a little too hot for September, but it will do) and some spectacular color in the high country. But we're all completely aware that one good storm... wind or rain or (not yet, please) snow or some combination of the above and the aspen will be bare overnight.

The Darling Man didn't understand this phenomenon when he first moved here from the Midwest, where spring and fall amble along between summer and winter. My rather manic mid-September insistence that we go out NOW... Now!.. RIGHT NOW to revel in the golden light was a puzzle to him. "What's the rush?" he asked. I heaved an exasperated sigh and said, "Just TRUST me. We have to go out NOW." So we did, and it was spectacular, and three days later it was snowing and blowing and all the leaves were down. The color show was over.

He definitely "gets it" now, which is why we spent last weekend with our faces turned towards the flickering yellow light... rubbing suede-soft leaves between our fingers and inhaling the scent of change. The minute we see that gold skirt sweeping across the knees of the Continental Divide we are outta the house and up into the hills.

It's a horrible time to be trying to get anything done indoors... at least it is for me. So when I realized last night that I didn't have anything pressing (printmaking pun not intended) on the calendar today, I threw my sketchbook in a backpack and put it by the door. First thing this morning I was back up Marshall Pass, and until noon I didn't see another soul. (And only one vehicle... parked... empty.)

For the first 45 minutes or so I just hiked up Gray's Creek, but then I lost the uphill path in a tangle of trees and creek and turned back downhill. I perched on a granite boulder, made 7 or 8 thumbnails and listened to nothing but the splashing creek, the scratching of my pencil, and the breeze in the trees. Perfect sun. Perfect temperature. Bliss. Another stop... a few more sketches. Back in my car, I drove up a road I'd never followed until it turned into a four-wheel-drive track. I made a few more sketches... and then reluctantly turned towards home.

The weather forecast calls ominously for rain on Wednesday night, so guess who won't be able to stay indoors tomorrow, either? Unfortunately I have a phone conference smack in the middle of the day... but I think I'll still manage a quick excursion in the morning. (Oh, the joy of living in the heart of the Rockies... spectacular views are always close at hand!)

I have news about exhibitions and workshops and projects to share with you, but for the next few days you can just expect it to pile up in the corner. I have to go out now. Right now. And if you know what's good for you, you'll go out now, too. Wherever you are.


  1. "...go out now, wherever you are..."
    Yes, Sherrie, sound advice. I'll just find a dry shirt, an umbrella... oh,yes! a waterproof pen!

    I know I've said it before, but...I miss the sharp definition of seasonal change here in the tropics.

  2. I don't know if you can get them on your side of the universe, D, but here we actually have something called a "Write in the Rain" notebook. It only works with pencil, I think. ;-)

    I have a friend who draws underwater when she's diving. I'm not taking excuses from anyone on this one. (giggle)

  3. Fall is fickle here in the Northwest too...glorious when it's around, but once it is swallowed by the rainy season, that's it! Usually September is beautiful, sunny, and warm, but after the worst summer since 1980 (it's official--only 55 days this year have been above 70 degrees!), I'm not expecting much of autumn. Still, I've always got my two birch trees outside that turn aspen-gold :)

  4. Nope, NOT going out, I refuse to, not 'til it gets below 90!
    Well, okay, I admit to doing a lovely evening walk late last night. It was still hot though.

  5. Okay, okay... I confess to being a wimp in the face of weather extremes, myself. But I find that even if I've been uncomfortable I'm still always glad to have gone out. Even if it's just because I'm then happy to be in.

  6. Are you absolutely certain the parked vehicle didn't have a soul?