Wednesday, May 28, 2008


After days of rain, I am escaping to paint in the Columbia River Gorge. The forecast is for "mostly cloudy, 6 mph winds." I arrive at the high, open plateau in full sunlight and a brisk wind. More wind than I feel like battling with my easel. So I set up in the shelter of the van's open doorway, and paint there. Uncomfortable, but wind-free.

Pretty quickly, the shadows on the cliffs across the river have disappeared. I clean up my paints and take a short walk out on the plateau. Wildflowers are everywhere; balsamroot, bachelor's buttons, yarrow. They scatter across the meadow in clumps. The path winds around, gently downward, offering a variety of views of a shadowed gulch and the Columbia River. I take a small side trail, to find a small outcropping filled with swallows. they dart in and out of nests nearly at eye level, swooping after invisible bugs above my head. I raise the camera, but quickly give up, as their snap changes in direction make it impossible to predict where the swallows will be when the shutter opens.

My knee complains, so I head back to the car and drive along the highway toward Mosier. the view at a pull-out snags my attentio. Out come the paints, again in the shelter of the van, for this view of inclined cliffs in the Columbia Gorge.