Wrong vs. Right

November 12, 2016

Nearing sunrise on my street

Nearing sunrise on my street

“We are all prone to think there is something wrong with the mental processes of the man who disagrees with us.”
— Jack London, “The Cruise of the Snark,” from Jack London: The Paths Men Take

I have to admit, I am often guilty of this!

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Sunrise through trees

Sunrise through trees

I wish I could tell you that I have been absent from this website because I have been engrossed in a great project or off traveling to some exotic destination.  But no.  I have no excuses.  I seem to have sunk into a kind of lethargy.  The days pass and I have no sketches, paintings, writings,  nor photographs to show for this passing time.

My friend Bonnie sent me this poem, which is an affirming way to consider my down time:

SWEET DARKNESS
by David Whyte

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.
When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.
It’s time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.
There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.
The dark will be your home
tonight.
The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.
You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.

 

Sunrise at Sunrise, Mount Rainier National Park

Sunrise at Sunrise, Mount Rainier National Park

We continued our exploration of national parks with a road trip to Mount Rainier.  We had to hit the road at 4:30 a.m. in order to arrive at Sunrise for the sunrise at 6:50 a.m.  Our timing was perfect, and we pulled into the Sunrise viewpoint with two minutes to spare!

Sunrise at Sunrise

Sunrise at Sunrise

View of Mount Adams in the distance

View of Mount Adams in the distance

We breakfasted with a picnic in the brisk, clear air — hard-boiled eggs, small tomatoes, pre-cooked bacon, cheese slices, rice crackers, mango juice.  Snow-capped Mount Rainier loomed over our picnic table.  Then we drove to the Naches Peak Loop Trailhead where we stepped out for an early morning hike.

“I could walk forever with beauty.  Our steps are not measured in miles but in the amount of time we are pulled forward by awe.”
— Terry Tempest Williams, The Hour of Land

Here are some photos from the trail:

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Reflection of Mount Rainier in Tipsoo Lake

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Dewey Lake in the distance

Dewey Lake in the distance

And finally, we ended our visit to Mount Rainier with a gondola ride up Crystal Mountain where we had lunch at the Summit Restaurant.  We sat on the outside patio in the blazing sun so that we could enjoy the view.

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Summit of Crystal Mountain

Summit of Crystal Mountain

Gray jays

Gray jays

Mount Rainier from the Summit Restaurant at Crystal Mountain

Mount Rainier from the Summit Restaurant at Crystal Mountain

Our visit to Mount Rainier National Park was about as perfect as we could have wished.

 

 

Prairie Sunrise

September 3, 2016

“The prairie landscape embraces the whole of the sky.”
— Paul Gruchow, Journal of a Prairie Year

Sunrise over corn field

Sunrise over corn field

“The sun rose.  It popped up abruptly as it always does along distant horizons on the prairie or at sea.”
— Paul Gruchow, The Necessity of Empty Places

Here are some photos of a Minnesota summer sunrise at the old family farm:

Dawning day

Dawning day

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Sunrise over corn field

Sunrise over corn field

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“With every dawn, every place on earth is a new place.”
— Paul Gruchow, Journey of a Prairie Year

View of the dawning day from the dock on Big Turtle Lake

View of the dawning day from the dock on Big Turtle Lake

“Red and pink light began to stream from a place below the horizon in the east like the notes of a silent fanfare.  For a long time the sun lingered just below the horizon, like a performer behind a curtain. . . . Suddenly the sun burst into view and the whole world was radiant. . . It began to climb, taking command of the day.”
— Paul Gruchow, The Necessity of Empty Places

On this trip to Minnesota, more than ever before, I was constantly amazed by the drama in the skies.  The clouds were ever-changing and in perceptible motion across the spacious skies.  Look how this sunrise unfolds:

Boat dock on Big Turtle Lake in northern Minnesota

Boat dock on Big Turtle Lake in northern Minnesota

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Looking west at sunrise

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Looking east

Looking east at dawn

Same view, later in the day

Same view, later in the day

Same view, nearing sunset

Same view, nearing sunset

 

 

 

On the shores of Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park

On the shores of Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park

Early morning moments at Nature Bridge

Early morning moments at Nature Bridge

During my childhood and youth, I never went to summer camp.  I could imagine what it was like though, from reading books.  My week at Nature Bridge finally gave me — in my sixth decade — a personal, first-hand taste of summer camp!  In fact, several youth groups shared the campus with us.  Unlike them, my time was not taken with group outings and pre-planned activities.  My time was pretty much my own.

Sunrise from the dock at Nature Bridge, Lake Crescent

Sunrise from the dock at Nature Bridge, Lake Crescent

I am an early riser, and I truly enjoyed my quiet moments on the dock watching the sun rise.  Little waves lapped and the dock creaked.  Swallows dove and swooped over the water.  I sat with my cup of coffee and marveled at the abstract, undulating colors and reflections on the lake’s surface.

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Wouldn’t these watery images make a great abstract painting?

My attempt at painting the ripples in the lake

My attempt at painting the ripples in the lake

The sky had lightened considerably by the time the sun finally peeked over the surrounding mountains.  As it rose, it highlighted the tips of the trees and rock outcroppings on the opposite shore.

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Tree tops sun lit like candle flames

Shsoreline, Lake Crescent

Shoreline, Lake Crescent

Watercolor sketch of view from the dock

Watercolor sketch of view from the dock

Watercolor and ink sketch of shoreline, Lake Crescent

Watercolor and ink sketch of shoreline, Lake Crescent

Baby swallows alighted on the dock rails.  A rabbit sat still in high alert.  A deer and her twin fawns nibbled the grass by the cottages.  The day was coming alive.  And then it was time for breakfast.

Baby barn swallow on the dock railing

Baby barn swallow on the dock railing

Barn swallow

Barn swallow

Rabbit outside the dining hall

Rabbit outside the dining hall

Fawn

Fawn

Watercolor sketch of fawn

Watercolor sketch of fawn

By the second day I found this perfect spot to do my painting.

By the second day, I found this perfect spot for painting in an empty classroom above the dining hall.  I am a bit chagrined to admit that I prefer painting from my photographs rather than in the field.  For one thing, it is always awkward to cart painting supplies in the outdoors.  And I find painting outside overwhelming.  My eyes see too much — in my direct vision, and in my peripheral vision.  I am constantly distracted.  And everything keeps moving!  When I photograph, I frame the view and limit all these competing elements.  So when I paint from one of my photographs, I can narrow my focus to just what is is the frame.

Using my photos as a starting point, I attempted to paint my impressions of the lush forests in the area.

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My first watercolor sketch of tree trunks

My first watercolor sketch of tree trunks

I started my next watercolor painting of tree trunks by coloring in the negative space between the trees.

I started my next watercolor painting of tree trunks by coloring in the negative space between the trees.

Watercolor painting of forest

Watercolor painting of forest

 

 

Dawning day along U.S. Hwy. 97 in Oregon

Dawning day along U.S. Hwy. 97 in Oregon

“. . . a gauze dance,
lighter, lighter,
yellow, blue at the tops of trees,
more God, more God everywhere,
lighter, lighter,
more world everywhere . . .”
— Anne Sexton, from “The Fury of Sunrises”

Wind turbines in the dawn light

Wind turbines in the dawn light

Would anyone sleep late if they knew that there was a rapture-inducing light show celebrating all Creation outside their doors and windows?  How many times have I missed these spectacular natural performances simply through inattention and lack of care (and tiredness)?

My husband and I drove the night through on our road trip to the Painted Hills in Oregon.  So, cocooned in our car, we were enveloped by the dawn.  The skies began to brighten incredibly early, around 4 a.m.  (The summer solstice in Seattle is today, June 20th, at 3:34 p.m. — how appropriate that today’s blog post celebrates the sun.)  And we were presented with a “gauzy dance” as the earth awakened.  We kept stopping along the road so that I could photograph the cloud choreography.  Our destination may have been the Painted Hills, but we started the day immersed in the spectacle of painted skies all around us.

I didn’t think the day could get much better than this.

Power lines across the high plateau

Power lines across the high plateau

Approaching sunrise

Approaching sunrise

Softening light as the day awakes

Softening light as the day awakes

Captivated by the eastern skies, I suddenly remembered to look west, and this was the reward.

Sunrise with telephone poles

Sunrise with telephone poles