Sunday, September 28, 2008


I’m in Hood River to see the Gorge Plein Air exhibit. There are stunning paintings, some by friends and acquaintances of mine, and I am admiring everything so much that I go through the exhibit several times. I particularly notice brush strokes and the way the artists use color. My own eye prefers a lot of variety in color notes, and the simple shape-designed paintings just don’t do it for me. How many color notes? The more the better, I think, until it becomes too blended, or too chaotic.
Once I leave the exhibit, I’m inspired to go paint. But first, some lunch. And there are peach farms, just across the river. I head across the bridge and drive up the White Salmon valley until I find a farm stand with peaches, the last of the year. They are ripe and juicy, yum! And look, I’m just a few miles from Husum Falls.
Back in the day, I used to paddle whitewater kayak. The White Salmon has a cold but fun section that ends up at a waterfall just before a bridge. There was a log jammed in the base of the waterfall, so we thought that anyone who ran it had a death wish, but it was always fun to speculate about it. Some years back, someone or some storm yanked the log, so now the falls has what appears to be a clear channel. So the boaters of today seem to take it as a routine rush. (Never mind that there is some rock down there, or the log wouldn’t have wedged there in the first place, and we hear rumors of boats hitting bottom now and then when they run the falls.)
Today, the waterfall is a perfect place to paint. There is shade under the bridge, and I have a great view with just enough river above the falls to make an interesting design. And I have the added entertainment of watching boaters come through from time to time.
This is really fun, but I’m hit with fits of jealousy. These twenty and thirty-year-old kids don’t even have very good technique. They drift over the falls at odd angles, with sloppy paddle strokes and plunge into the foam, disappearing into the white. They pop up, right-side up or upside down, execute some of the weakest rolls I’ve ever seen, and come out smiling. I could do better than that. Of course, I can’t do better than that--I can’t fit in my boat, but I want to be twenty-five and kayaking again.
Painting will have to do. And today, it does quite nicely. I enjoy coloring in the patterns of rock and water. About the time I pack up to leave, a retired couple comes down with some beer to watch the local entertainment.

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