I have settled in a small patch of shade to try and capture these mountains. The idea of putting these massive rock walls on a nine by twelve canvas is simply ludicrous. They rise all around me, one mountain after another, so tall and close that I have to tilt my head back to look at the peaks. It would be hard to do them justice on a 30 by 40 canvas. But they are inspiring, and I have to try.
Another small piece of beauty is the butterflies who visit me. There are several, unconcerned that my paints are not really flowers, and I smell like insect repellent (in a vain effort to discourage the multitudinous black flies). There is one mid-sized butterfly that looks like a bit of parchment with ink scratchings on it. I look it up later with Andrew...maybe a Mormon Fritillary.
It turns out that butterflies' wings are brightest when they first burst out of their pupae, and they dim as the butterflies age. Imagine getting one set of hair for your entire lifetime. Whatever gets cut or falls out doesn't grow back, until you are finally bald. No, that's not a good enough analogy, as the wings are functional. Imagine you come equipped with a wheelchair instead of legs. Only it is made of balsa wood, and you can't repair or replace it. I guess we do have single-use body parts like that, just not such fragile ones.
Halfway through my second canvas, a shadow falls across the valley. Marmots whistle among the rocks, single-pitched notes like bells, the amphitheater of mountains funnelling their sound to me. I finish my paintings, having ridiculously simplified the magnificent view.