Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dealing with Winter-melt

Snow melt along Lake Superior's northwestern shore must have been thickening today's low clouds that never gave way to sun, but heavy overcast is okay--it instills, I think, a special intimacy with everything drowsing under the cloud cover. Temps. were 37 degrees F outside of Two Harbors and 39 in town along the backdrop of Lighthouse Point. No ducks or other fowl than gulls appeared on the lake. Conditions made for the most marginal weather for outdoor watercolor, but I had come scouting a dark ledge of local basalt in the finishing process of a watercolor commissioned by my friend and co-worker Scott W., and crouching rather than sitting on the snow lest I get soggy jeans I daubed in the colors of the cliff and watched the paint not dry. My parka was open, but the chilled outer edges of my hands knew the day was not much warmer than freezing, so I could say: it IS winter, and Decembers decades ago DID include some days of thaw, and so I can better accept this winter day. I took the painting to the car to dry while the daylight dimmed and the 101st St. Olaf Christmas Festival came in on the stereo. The car is an old, first-generation Toyota Prius which, once run a short distance and warmed up, will serve as an art studio, containing sun warmth or engine heat inside without needing to idle by internal combustion, only electric power; this consoles me as a gift I've been given that I've been able to keep. At least some of us are fortunate enough to have the advantages of a hybrid car.

The St. Olaf Choir buoyed me further with the sound of the old and the new, bringing back the vistas of my central Indiana beginnings and bonding them with visions of the Upper Midwest and the boreal region, which are home now and the home of my art. The Christmas compositions said it is possible to bring old masterpieces into a new time, and the darkening day, with heat helpful to my robustness in the car despite the melting outside, said it is possible to accept some taming of winter, and adapt with a plant and animal community that is having to adapt to a more generic temperature regime that may, who knows, ultimately become common to all of central North America.


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