Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Thaw - Taking the Close View

Ever since winter arrived on the 22nd, the season has felt more like spring. We saw a high of near 40˚F (4˚C) on Christmas Day. Thanks to this unseasonable warmth, the snow is melting fast. Since I really love to paint snow, I decided to take my ThumBox out on its second adventure. (If you missed it, click here for its first adventure.)

This time, I drove down to the Herring Cove Provincial Park. Herring Cove is a broad expanse of sandy beach on the east side of Campobello Island. It's a popular spot in the summer with campers and picnickers. The beach is what they call a 'barrier beach,' and just behind it is Lake Glensevern, where Franklin D. Roosevelt used to go swimming. A small trail follows the lake edge and leads you to an area where beavers have been very busy. Just past this swampy area you'll find a beaver dam blocking one of the many streamlets that empty into the lake.

This dammed-up streamlet was my destination. I hiked about 10 minutes or so to get to it, negotiating the occasional icy boardwalk and the more frequent heaps of slush. These calf-deep piles had been snow drifts before the thaw, but now beneath every one lay a hidden trap filled with water. I learned quickly to not step into these 'slush drifts'!

The streamlet was high with water but still had plenty of snow banked up around it. What drew my eye immediately was the golden glow from the bottom -- thanks to the overcast light, the colour was very rich. (I've often noted how autumn foliage is at its best on overcast or drizzly days. Apparently, this holds true for streamlet bottoms, too.) I also saw another rich colour. On the far bank, melting snow revealed a carpet of bright green moss.

Although I might have painted the beach with its broad views of the Bay of Fundy, I went for the smaller view. I could have held my little snow-and-water scene in the palm of my hand. The close intimacy encouraged a supreme stillness in the world, something I don't think I would have experienced if I'd gone for the grand view. Other than the quiet trickle of water and the soft, barely audible settling of ice along the stream's edge, there was nothing.

"Christmas Thaw"
5x7, oil, en plein air

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