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Friday Plein Air Painters at Cool Spring Preserve

Invisible insects sing soprano as I saunter past, their sudden silence a moving bubble of quiet surrounded by a sea of sound.

I choose a spot by the stream with lovely benches and even pop-up tables. The sun plays hide and seek with the clouds in the landscape. I hear more than feel the breeze, enveloped as I am in brush and branch.

And that is the star. The feeling I want to convey, of coziness, of protection, of sharing a secret with this little glade.

I pull out paper and start to sketch and find I want to explore the textures in the burled sycamore wading in the stream. And then a flash and a splash and I’m drawn into a giant leaf slowly spinning and circling in an eddy before catching the current and racing down stream. I wish I could think fluently in music, for right now that’s how I would compose….

I settle on the sweeping tangle of marsh and meadow to the far-off farm. But in the midst, a leaf  lands dramatically next to my paints. Watercolors.  Not a familiar medium for me, but fascinating and most important, portable.  “Paint me, paint me!” the leaf demands. I laugh and continue my wash, so different from the stream-side glade I initially intended to explore… but that’s the way it goes.  Listen to the landscape….

 

I bid my spot farewell, even as the infinitely intricate (intricately infinite?) negative spaces in the leaves try to lure me in…

I don’t realize how chilly I get sitting on the cold bench until I start back. The last time I wandered this trail, hoarfrost twinkled from every blade and secret hollow.  Let me see if I can find a picture….February feels like a lifetime ago.

The painters head off home, but I’ve packed my running gear and look forward to logging a couple of miles. The trails are springy and welcoming underfoot. A brief bright blob bounding into the woods shows why it’s called Whitetail Trail. When I pass my spot by the stream, my bossy leaf has blown on…

A hidden vista off a side trail. A palette of leaves and lichen.  A trail through a tunnel to wonderland.  The soaring buzzards are too far off to see unless you blow up the photo…but scant minutes later I startle when they swoop down just above me. That’s why they’re called buzz-ards, I laugh to myself.

I’m fascinated at the contrast of texture that rolls by.  Spike and tendril.  Vapor and solid. Fluid and unyielding.

 

Puff and sweat.  Pause to shoot. The trail turns towards home, past a bucolic pasture scene. As I raise my phone,  the statuesque bull lazily flops his head all the way to the ground, now just a distant blurry blob.  I think about calling to him for a more majestic pose but realize the wisdom of letting sleeping bulls lie. Enjoy the sunshine, buddy….

 

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