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