Cedar Pines, a Saga

I’m at Camp, the old homestead up Pine Creek in PA.

Jer has left me — temporarily. He’s on his way to Portland; I will follow in a few weeks, after spending some more time with the land and air and water and mountains. Then I’ll stay with my sister in Lititz, PA for a bit, after which we’ll go to Philly, where I’ll stay with a friend and investigate the Barnes (art) Collection at the new museum.

This is the scene that has been greeting me every morning. I’m trying desperately to figure out how to capture its foggy essence in paint — a different kettle of fog than capturing it with the camera.

It’s an interesting time in my life (and I hope it is for Jer, too). We have been married for 49 years, and, as my daughter jokingly said, when she heard that Jer had left for Portland, “I didn’t know you two could be separated.”  Even though this is a short separation, it’s a special time for me, mostly alone (although all kinds of people are keeping a quiet eye out). I’m communing with ghosts of people who lived and loved here, as well as continuing to immerse myself in the landscape, which I have always felt was magical.

This is also a test to see how really boring I am to myself. My boredom, though, seems to be stopped by the landscape, which I muse over while drinking my first cup of coffee, marvel at when the mist climbs the hills, observe with great intensity in mid-day when I’m in front of my canvas, and walk through in the evening light.

I’ve settled into a routine (as much as one can in four days), and every morning, after coffee, I go for a walk. The fog is sometimes still clinging to the hillsides when I put on my boots. Mostly the sun comes out later. It’s cool;  the weather and trees are turning toward autumn.

I took this photo on the same walk in which I identified a shagbark hickory tree by its bark:

One of my morning walk projects is to fix in my brain some of the more common — or more interesting — local trees. Thus far, I’ve identified the shagbark hickory, the Norway spruce (it droops dramatically — drama queen among the evergreens), the quaking aspen (although I’ve put a question mark beside that one because its leaves look like about a dozen other unrelated trees in my book) and the eastern hemlock, the Pennsylvania tree and one that I should have known long ago. I have already fallen completely in love with white pines. And the wedding tree is a basswood, which I need to find elsewhere in the woods.

Here’s one of the white pines from the back porch, photo taken in the evening light.

There’s sufficient work in identifying trees to keep me busy for some time. Just tonight (I also take a shorter walk in the evening) I picked up a very long cone from some kind of pine — I’m guessing, from the state of my fingers, that it’s a pitch pine.

So for the next few weeks, I’ll be talking to myself (I whistle a lot and sometimes make up long associative songs that I sing very loudly). I have discovered where the deer hang out in the evenings — saw ten or so on my latest walk — and I make sufficient noise that I think I won’t startle any bears or bobcats. I’ve seen a red fox and many cows. And lots of trees — enough to keep me busy for a couple of days.  –June

This entry was posted in Portland and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Cedar Pines, a Saga

  1. Pingback: Paintings from Pine Creek, Second Issue « June O. Underwood

  2. Ray Horton says:

    Looks like beautiful country, June. Regarding fog: I have struggled with this too. One method that sort of worked for me (and might work better under your skilled hand) was to aly full color on, then glaze over that for the transparency the suggests atmosphere. I sometimes have used a thin wash of gray/white applied with my fingers and manipulated with a rag. I’m working in oil, of course, so I don’t know what would happen with acrylic, if that is what you are currently using. Buona fortuna!

    Ray

    Like

    • june says:

      Thanks, Ray. I too am working in oil, so your solution sounds good. Did you allow the underlayer to dry before putting on the thin wash? Actually that’s a dumb question: if you don’t allow it to dry, you don’t get a glaze, you get mud — or green mud in this case:-) Thanks for checking in. Hope your and yours are having a good fall. Jer’s on his way home — should be there in a few days.

      Like

    • june says:

      Re: proofreading — don’t bother for me, please. If you write too perfectly, then I’ll have to proof also. I’m saving my perfection for my painting (add a –snort– here); Otherwise god will think I’m emulating her a bit too closely:-)

      Like

      • Kristin McNamara Freeman says:

        June – your proofreading comment makes me smile and laugh aloud this morning…one of those pieces of who you are that is such pure delight. What a treasured journey with you this summer into fall it has been and continues to be….keep me with a happy heart, k?

        Like

  3. marilyn says:

    Dear June,
    Reading about your friendship with pine trees reminds me of my father’s recipe for a mustard plaster. Hand-pecked on an old typewriter and very tattered at the edges, it calls for a good portion of pine pitch…. or is it pitch pine? Either way, I can’t imagine making it, but I do remember the smell. And the smell of the pines outside my bedroom window. I’d walk into my room and be enveloped in a tree world. It was only as I grew older that I became aware of that scent and what it conveyed to me. The trees are long gone now; I suppose the new owners thought them a danger to the house, but they remain in my memory. Your journey is such a gift to the rest of us; I eagerly await the next walk you take; the next morning’s fog. I think I must travel to Portland in a few months to see more of Pennsylvania through your eyes.

    Like

    • june says:

      Marilyn, I’m sitting beside the cone and branch I picked up last night. I think it’s a balsam fir and it has exactly the odor you describe. There is a “pitch pine” but generically, one gets pine pitch over oneself when picking up pine cones of this sort. Do come to Portland and we’ll have a jolly time with our tales.

      Like

  4. Jane says:

    Hi June. Lovely post. I suppose Jer will get in touch with me when it’s time to end my sweet biking expeditions to your house, to water the garden? All’s well on the home front.

    Jane

    Like

    • june says:

      Jane, I sent Jer your email address. He’s in Wyoming, probably at this very moment. So he’s traveling fleet of wheel. Glad to hear all’s well on the home front. I want to hear all about your new digs and how the art crit went. But that will have to wait for a few weeks.

      Like

  5. Olga says:

    Like the others I am really enjoying this journey you are sharing with us. Trees are special companions, and I think that alone with them we become part of nature, rather than humans looking at nature. Store it all up to keep you a-buzzing. I cannot imagine that you would ever get bored – from what I have read, you are just too interested in everything.

    Like

    • june says:

      Thanks, Olga. I am only bored with myself; as soon as I look around, I find something interesting to concentrate on. It makes me a bit scattered in my thoughts (and sometimes my conversations). But it certainly beats staring at my navel and brooding over my misbegotten years.

      And you are absolutely right about trees. I think I’ve found a balsam fir and I know I’ve found sycamores, what we call in Portland “London plane” trees. The real London plane tree might be a different variety, but the ones here look very like the Portland versions. My book says there are 10 varieties, but only 3 in the US and a fourth in Canada. Endless fascinating details, if one is fascinated by them. The plane trees in Portland are in a big meadowy area in Laurelhurst Park and they look humanoid, old humans, somewhat wise and a bit aloof. Here, for the most part, they are young, forming allees (don’t have the accent, sorry) along the rail-trail.

      Like

  6. janetl says:

    Lovely post!

    Umm, Lititz is next door to Achenbach’s Pastries. Get the round coffee cake with white frosting.
    http://www.achenbachs.com/tour-bakery

    Like

    • janetl says:

      My parents moved from Lancaster to North Carolina shortly after we got married, so Ron only visited Lancaster twice, in 1980. I asked him if he remembered that coffee cake. He said yes. I figured that he was just humoring him, so I challenged him to describe it — and he could!

      Like

    • june says:

      Got it! Interesting how that area brings out food recommendations from people. The round coffee cake with white frosting — Auchenbach. I’m trying to memorize it, just in case I forget my notebook at the crucial moment.

      Like

  7. Kathy says:

    Norway Spruce – Drama Queen a fitting description and my favorite among the pines. I envy you your time in a most special place, a little heaven on earth. So I’m wondering? does the phrase ‘the older I get the smarter my parents get’ ring true? Are you seeing the brilliance of their decision to ‘retire’ there. Truly miss camp an all that it offered.

    Like

    • june says:

      Glad you liked “drama queen”, Kathy. They really do look like great sulking beauties. I can hear the nostalgia in your voice — not to mention all the FB messages you’ve been sending:-)

      Like

  8. Enjoy your solitude…it’s an important part of the creative process and life in general. And then enjoy even more that union of 49 years when you get back to it.

    Like

  9. Diane says:

    I have never so completely enjoyed a journey I wasn’t actually on…actually, I’m enjoying your journey into past and present much more than many of my own! Thank you for a wonderful carriage of stories, pictures and friendship
    .

    Like

  10. Kristin McNamara Freeman says:

    June,
    It is my delight to be reading of your time in this most lovely, rural, and friendly landscape. With family history and your own memories collected and saved, now to do your investigating and learning about your botanical “roommates” and walking and breathing deeply and seeing so much. The painting you begin and work on here will reflect a treasure that you are so generously sharing with those of us who take in your words, ruminate on your thoughts and appreciate being tucked in your pocket.
    This bit of travel is a gem in my collection of words and pictures… thank you for letting me tag along.
    Kristin

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s