Playa: September 11th & 12th

Wednesday,  Sept 11, 2013 (This post also can be found on my southeastmain blog, with a few photos changed).

We left Portland about 8 and, taking our favorite Route 26 around the southern edge of Mt Hood, dropped further south on Rt. 97 through Bend.  At La Pine in southeast Oregon we finally left the trucks and high speed traffic and took Route 3, a relatively short two-lane between  La Pine and Lakeview. We traveled through a ponderosa forest, range and sage land, and  then came through the pass between Silver Lake and Summer lake, where we first caught sight of the Summer Lake playa and the curve of Winter Ridge. Winter Ridge stands like a crescent moon, a half circle whose granite arms embrace the lake bed, rugged and yet protective in its curve.

PlayaOfficeWLThe Commons at Playa include the office.

Playa (the art residency compound) fits into a green oasis inside the Winter Ridge curve and is west of the Summer Lake bed.  Jer helped me unpack my art supplies, 2 weeks worth of food stuffs (think tuna and iceberg lettuce), and then, as I turned down Kathy’s kind offer to allow him to stay overnight (I was to be completely alone and she thought perhaps it would be good to have someone else with me), he went on to Lakeview, where he had photographs to pursue.

As usual I am brain-dead because I became far too absorbed in wide-eyed gazing. The landscape is one of the northern-most, lusher versions of basin and range country that we found attracted us in Nevada.   Summer lake at the moment is almost dry but still impresses one as a primary force of the landscape. Winter Ridge is no small slouch, either, as it fronts Summer Lake, forming that great crescent along its western edge. Across from Playa to the east is  the lake bed,  the Diablo Mountains, and Ten Mile Butte.


The playa of Summer Lake, from one of the Playa Compound paths. Beyond, across the lake, is either Ten Mile Butte or the Diablo Mountains

I am in Cabin 10 at Playa, and right now am totally alone. Later tonight, the on-site manager, Rachel, will be coming home, but at the moment, except for the cars that occasionally go by, this is solitude.

Well, I did see a bunch of animal scat, some of it not so small. So I suspect I am not totally alone. And I heard what I think was a coyote (I’ve never heard a clearly identified one ) as I was walking around the pond between the Lake and the Playa compound.

The North Pond and Reflections

The pond at Playa. The reflections in this desert spot were simply amazing. This is looking north, toward Winter Ridge.

The quarters are elegant, simple, but have all the essential conveniences. Cabin 10 has an upstairs bedroom as well as a downstairs one and a small attached studio. Both bedrooms have balconies that look out over the lake, picking up the northern end of Winter Ridge, the Diablo mountains, and Ten Mile Butte across the dry lake bed.

It’s totally gorgeous, of course, but I must quit before I collapse. I did find my way to the computer (an Apple!) in the Commons and, after a few swearing sessions at Apple’s opacity, sent Jer a message from g-mail. So I am not being totally off the grid. But given the nature of the computer and my own delight in the isolation, I doubt that I’ll be making much of it.

Thursday, Sept 12, 2013

I was awakened in the dead of night by a raucous battle between a coyote or coyotes and a flock of geese. Such a honking and howling and barking in an otherwise silent night. The squabble was only stopped when the geese took off in one of their whooshes of wind and wings. This occurred three or four times during the early morning hours.

When I was wakened by the noise, the sky was bright with stars. When I woke next time, it had clouded over. And sunrise this morning was a scarf of clouds over the middle of the lake; Winter Ridge was thick with them; the sun was coming up in something like clear skies to the east.


So I got up and watched the sun on the clouds and the escarpment of Winter Ridge. I decided to go for a bit of a walk (it was about 6:30) but just as I put on my boots, it started to shower. The rain bounced cheerfully on the pond. The shower didn’t last long, the clouds moved off to the southeast, and by 11 the skies were clear. A heron or egret sat on the bridge across the northern end of the pond; different ducks fed here and there. A hawk or other predator flew by looking for breakfast, while swallows fed on the mosquitos. I begin to see my day taking shape.


I know what I need to start my painting processes with.

Later: Started a plein air painting today. Must go back in midday tomorrow to correct colors. The big shapes make the painting easier. Getting the colors right is the challenge.

The staff has been really helpful. Rachel took over today and found me a good cart to handle the gravel and grass I must haul my art stuff over.


The magical cart — worked like a dream through the gravel paths and grass and all my art stuff, including my own cart, fit inside.

I’m having a good time watching the playa and the animals. The bugs, not so much so. The questions are: will tonight’s rendition of drama on the playa be as exciting as last night’s; and will I sleep through it. I hope so. Rachel says a goose may have been dinner for the coyote, although she suspected it was more likely to have been a duck. I think I heard geese honking but then, what do I know?


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