Well, a little snow flies outside my window. It is a good time of year to stay in, light a fire and muse about the experiences of the warmer days gone by. Before setting up this blog, I did a series of travels posts on my website. I’d like to share those posts here as it was those trips and the thoughts and images from them that will feed the Winter’s artistic journey….
I visited a number of beautiful places this past season including, Huntsville, Georgian Bay, North Bay, Lake Superior, Algonquin Park, as well as, right here in Muskoka. The following are just a glimpse into the later days of those travels. More can be seen in the ‘Musings’ section of my website.
October 1, 2007
There are no words to describe the extraordinary sight of Algonquin Park in the peak of Fall. The ride up was hot, but spectacular! In the ensuing alternation between rain and sun, clouds dominated much of the trip, so the photos don’t even begin to capture the stunning colours I saw on what I would say was my favourite trip of the season.
Despite the challenges of wielding a 35 foot RV through small spaces and having no ‘look out’, I think I managed quite well. The site was huge and seemed to me to be the epicentre of trails to some incredible views. The first evening, I pulled out my bike and rode a bit of the 10+ km trail to Rock Lake. I didn’t get as far into the trails as I might have liked, and the sun was rarely in its full glory throughout the trip. Most days were either overcast or hazy, and the colours didn’t show quite as brightly as they had on the drive in.
I did manage to see an incredible sunset from my waterfront site and enjoyed some lovely long views of Lake of Two Rivers. This area alone (an old airfield) is full of fodder for the painter as will likely be revealed on this site over the coming months.
In spite of the rain, there were some lovely moments. I discovered the both friendly and aggressive Algonquin chipmunck. You WILL be sharing anything that they like. The blue jays will not be far behind. I had one little chippy eating on my lap. If I didn’t let him – he went straight for the bag of sunflower seeds!
The water was surprisingly warm for the end of September and the trails were busy. I have not had the pleasure of spending the night in Algonquin for 12 years. The last time was with a friend of mine, Nely, at the end of August 1995. Being the quintessential city girls, we were more alarmed by the the motion of lights than the sounds of the bush. We joked later, that it was unlikely that the bears had headlamps! Forgetting the simple necessities of cutlery and a foam mattress – the trip was unforgettable. We took a paddling day trip from the Portage Store at Canoe Lake – and were never so happy to step back onto dry land (I was experienced with canoes – but Nely was not!). When we returned to ‘civilization’ (Bracebridge), we had treats and laughed at our complete misunderstanding of ‘camping’. We certainly appreciated the comfort of the hard beds of the cottage!
In the years since, my obsession with the Canadian Shield, its plants and atmosphere, converted that city girl into a lover of the land. No place has ever captured my heart like Algonquin. Obviously, the work of Tom Thomson became very alive for me after this. I drove five hours to see the Thomson exhibition at the National Gallery in 2002. I couldn’t wait for it to come to Toronto!
It seems to me, that to really understand what it is to be Canadian, you must experience the landscape. It defines us – maybe much less so in the larger cities, but, at the end of the day, our geography and how we experience it transforms us into a people of this land.
It is always the land that had created the cultures of the world. It bends us and morphs us, it helps us to find our strengths and extend our limitations. The greatest library in the world, is before us in each leaf and rock and we must listen very closely as it speaks softly of the secrets that transcend time. To hear it does not mean to understand it – and its understanding is only the destination. The journey there is what creates character. Here, the voice of the mob is silenced and we can write – or paint – with a voice that is nothing but our own.
October 21, 2007
We have seen little of the sun in the last few weeks. This has made it easy to sit in the studio. It’s funny how inertia works. When I was moving around it was hard to stop – when I finally became still, the idea of getting out was far from appealing. But, yesterday, the sun made a brief appearance and the remaining leaves lit up like gold against the dark sky. By the time I got the camera, the show was almost over. I did, however, catch the finale. My obsession with skies in the studio this past week made getting these more of a necessity than a choice – and they will find themselves in paint later this week. I look forward to sharing the work that Algonquin sparked.
It was a funny thing… I got started at 10:30 at night. When the drive strikes to create, to not answer is to not care what might be behind a door. Life has an odd way of touching us. We move along in a great wave and our momentum seems to become more important than listening to ourselves. We are so sure of what we need, what we must do…. Meanwhile, the world flies by. Spirit vibrates at another level. To be ‘inspired’ requires that we slow down and listen. Life is really in the moment – and we can be astounded when we discover that we have already arrived….