Friday, 13 July 2012


July 11, 2012: Can’t sleep. Up at 4:30 am this morning. Made myself a cup of coffee and went outside to enjoy the twilight. Not a cloud in the sky. It’s cool despite a promised day-time high of 30C. Off in the eastern sky Mars and Saturn are shining brightly. High overhead a glint of light reveals the International Space Station orbiting our lonely blue planet. As the sun begins it’s climb over the horizon the world seems to suddenly awaken. A solitary Robin claiming its territory with song Is joined by other Robins. I make a note to myself that the Robins are singing later in the morning. “It won’t be long now”, I think to myself, "before they’ll be heading south”. Summer seems to be slip-sliding away. The Robins are joined in song  by Chipping and Song Sparrows. A Cardinal, and cooing Mourning Doves add to the symphony of song . Seagulls circle high up in the twilight. A Common Loon calls as it passes by on its way to some distant lake. A car races noisily down the street. Someone is off to work, or perhaps some emergency considering the time of day. The lights in the neighbor’s house across the street are turned on. The world is waking up. It’s time to start my day.

I mentioned that perhaps the most wonderful thing about my years spent making art was travelling here and there making sketches and exploring nature. Back in 1999 between exhibitions we went for a drive.

September 11, 1999: At approximately 6:30 am we finished packing the van, checked and rechecked the front door to make certain that it was locked, then headed north on Hwy 400. We were on the road again with our destination being Waterton Lake National Park, Alberta, with stop overs in Cypress Hills and Grasslands Provincial Parks located in Saskatchewan. My notes read:-

A long first day. About 7 hours to Saulte St Marie. Rain dogged us all the way to Sudbury. It had been years since we drove through Superior Provincial Park. Many changes along the approach – more motels. We stopped at Montreal Harbor to sketch at the lower power dam. Incredible scenery here. We must stop here on the way home to paint. Arrived at Wawa around 5:00 pm. Changes here, as well. Several new motels along the approach. When we last visited about 10 years ago there were only two motels outside of Wawa. Now, there’s a half dozen. Stayed the night. Left the following morning at around 6:30 am for Dryden. It began to rain almost immediately. Sandy drove in terror from Marathon to Nipigon. I slept afraid to stay awake. It’s a wonder that we had brakes left. Between the rain, heavy at times, and trucks travelling too fast, together with steep hills, it was a bit of a nightmare. Arrived in Dryden at around 5:00 pm. Another long day.

It takes almost three days to travel from central Ontario to the Manitoba border. It takes another couple of days to get to Cypress Hills Provincial Park and another long day to reach Waterton Lake National Park. It’s only by driving that you come to really appreciate that Canada is a very large country.

We arrived at Waterton on September 18th where we spent several days. Hiking in the mountains was an incredible experience partly because of all of the rumors about grizzly and black bears, not to mention the stories about cougars. On hiking trails it was important to remain alert and to talk loud to let the bears, if there were any on the trail ahead, to know of your coming. Bad news, apparently, to surprise a bear. Cougars, well that was another thing. There were reports of them coming into town in the night and making off with dogs and cats. Of course, we never saw a grizzly, or cougar, but we did see a number of black bears, albeit at a distance. 

We, or I should say I, did have an experience with a wild creature. It occurred while we were hiking on a trail in the foothills. There was a terrific wind, almost gale force, blowing down off the mountains. The trail meandered through long grasses through groves of Aspen trees. We’d hiked for a distance and were tiring, so I decided that before heading back I’d hike on ahead to see if there were sketching possibilities thinking that perhaps we could return the following day. As it was, after hiking on ahead for 15 minutes, or so, with little change in the landscape, and the best sketching possibilities seeming back where I’d come, I decided to turn around and go back. I turned, and as I did, out of the corner of my eye, I caught some movement in the tall grass only a matter of some 10 - 15 meters away. My first thoughts were that It was a bear causing me to come to a halt full stride. My heart raced, and for an instance I truly believed that I was in real trouble. Then, up came a head out of the grasses. It was a large, lone, wolf.  Seemingly as much surprised as I was, it looked directly at me. We locked eyes for what seemed minutes, but was really only a few seconds. I felt the hair rise on the back of my neck. Then, no doubt satisfied that I was no threat, turned on its heels and disappeared into the long grasses. More than a little bit rattled I hurried back to Sandy and we retreated down the trail to a clearing with a view where I made a sketch while Sandy kept watch for………..

Waterton Lake  Watercolour Sketch 1999

Waterton Lake  Watercolour Sketch 1999

Mountain Landscape - Waterton Lake  National Park   Watercolour Sketch 1999

Mountain Landscape -Waterton Lake  National Park   Watercolour Sketch 1999

Quick Pencil Sketch  Red Rock Canyon 1999

Field Watercolour Sketch  Cypress Hills Saskatchewan 1999

Field Watercolour Sketch  Cypress Hills Saskatchewan 1999

Field Watercolour Sketch  Cypress Hills Saskatchewan 1999

Montreal River, Superior Provincial Park, Ontario  Watercolour Sketch 1999

Montreal River, Superior Provincial Park, Ontario   Watercolour Painting

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