Friday, September 2, 2011

Fieldwork Friday: At home and away

It's taken a few days, but I'm finally feeling more or less back in the swing of things. Even so, my neck and shoulders complained mightily this morning at the thought of a backpack and hike for this installment of Fieldwork Friday.

In my (ahem) advancing years I am learning to pay attention to what my neck and shoulders have to say, so I opted to spend some time in the closest field I have: My yard.

There's not much to look at there just now... I don't seem to have found the right plants to provide blooms through the end of summer. While we were on the road the deer had their way with things, too, so it's all a bit scraggly. Still, the beloved bee plants have some color and they continue to share their oh-so-lovely scent whenever I bump up against them.

I also found my way to scanning a couple of things from LAST Friday in Yellowstone National Park. Both of these drawings are from the West Thumb geyser basin. I loved West Thumb in part because it was a smaller, less-visited area and it had just about everything you could want for thermal features: hot pools, mud pots, and geysers.

This is a corner of the Abyss Pool. The amazing and unlikely colors indicate different species of heat-loving micro-organisms (thermophiles) living at various depths and temperatures. One of my most pervasive memories from this trip will be sitting on the boardwalk next to this pool. Mid-day, glaring sun, no shade, smell of sulphur.... and me sitting practically on top of a huge expanse of steaming water.

But the funniest story comes with this sketch:

It's still early morning at West Thumb and I am perched on a bench, asking myself what sort of insanity compels one to draw boardwalks along lakeshores. As I work, a man in cowboy boots comes clomping towards me. He stops to see what I am doing.

"Is this for some kind of class?" he asks. (The implication being that no one could possibly do what I'm doing unless they were obliged to meet a class requirement.)

"No," I reply. "Just drawing for the sake of doing so."

He asks a few more questions ("What will you do with that drawing? Will you make a painting?") and then suddenly he says, "It's nice, but you never saw that here."

It takes me a moment to realize he's facing the opposite direction I am. "Sure I did," I say, and point behind him. He turns around and looks back the way he came.

"Wow," he says with a mystified tone. "You see stuff."


  1. You have to learn how to look.
    We all pass so much visual info.
    I'm glad he thought to ask you questions...already an unusual thing.

    He went away with a different view.

    Isn't that what it's about?

  2. Absolutely wonderful compliment ("You see stuff.")
    Phyl Jones

  3. You're right, Andrew. I did feel as though his "wow" was a bit of a lightbulb for him... like two pieces of a puzzle fit together to gave a sense of the bigger picture.

    A few minutes later I had a nice French-speaking family come by. Much embarrassed giggling by the adolescent son when I tried to ask if I should add him to the drawing.

    Drawing in public places invites public comment...sometimes exasperating, sometimes downright annoying, but sometimes delightful and thought-provoking. It's certainly never dull!

  4. Oh yeah! You do see stuff. And maybe, just maybe, Mr. Cowboy Boots will look around him a bit more after encountering mystifying but interesting you...

  5. "You see stuff"...that IS a wonderful compliment. And how marvelous that he had the honesty and guts to 'fess up, you know? instead of being all macho-like and joking instead.

    Glad you enjoyed Yellowstone--we went 2 years ago after not having been there for about 18 years, and it was as wonderful as we'd remembered it.

  6. chuckle ,chuckle I can just see the whole image in my mind and sit here softly smiling at the male "lights on moment". Well he was facing the opposite direction!