Thursday, October 1, 2009


It’s a beautiful early fall day, and Rick and I decide to take in the plein air art show in Hood River, and go for a hike at Rowena Plateau. And maybe hang out somewhere where I can paint and he can read in the sun.

The art show is fascinating. Many of my favorite artists have produced wonderful paintings, some of interesting places I haven’t been, some of undefinable and universal spots.

At Rowena Plateau, Rick and I step out of the van and are blasted by the wind. Then I remembered how windy it was there when I painted the meadow in the spring. It was too windy to paint outside, even too windy to paint with the van door open. (I guess that was a whole year ago.) Anyway, there is no question of painting on the plateau. We decide to hike up the hill a ways, until it gets steep, then turn around and hike down, keeping our hike to the flattish areas. Of course, this plan doesn’t work. The farther up we go, the more we can see into interesting canyons. Mt. Adams peeks above the gorge rim, and we can see new bits of the river. The trail winds through meadows, through patches of scrubby oak and poison oak, back and forth across the inclined escarpment.

A pair of birds circle overhead. (We had a discussion about them at the car. I thought they were swallows, and Rick held out for turkey vultures. Now I can see that they are very small raptors, light underside, and much too small for turkey vultures....also too large for swallows.)

Up and up we go. I send Rick out ahead of me, preferring to poke along, and let him catch me on the way down. I turn a corner, see the summit still a ways off, and turn around, hoping to get back to the car with my knees intact. Rick catches me just as I am reaching the car. Perfect timing.

We drive down the hill out of the worst of the wind, and settle in a park along the Columbia. Here I paint the colors of grass and cliff, a hint of the sky and water, and some islands in the river. A large group of ducks are sheltering in the lea of an island. They take off suddenly, beating their wings against the water.

As I paint, I have spectators: two children who ask many questions. They profess to love the painting, even before I have put the first colors on canvas. This hopeful admiration is a bit puzzling. After the painting begins to emerge, the little girl says, “That’s what I want to do, Mommy.” I tell her she should start right away.

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