Playa September 14, 2013

(This residency recollection was interrupted by a 50th wedding anniversary orgy of photographs, which I shall post on Flicker as soon as I get a bit caught up here. My apologies to my faithful fans who have been waiting for the next installment.)

Saturday, September 14:

Yesterday I climbed up the hill across the road. It’s actually a kind of “front range” to Winter Ridge ( a set of small hills in front of the basalt of the Ridge) where I found a good wide view. I might have to paint from it. But it was hot and by the time I got back, I was sweating, dehydrated, and tired. Ah well, what did I expect at 4000 feet above sea level for an aging out-of-shape body.  But it’s always good to have possibilities for further exploration. I told myself that Saturday (today) would be a lazy day,  to make up for the exertion and excitements of yesterday. (So much for promises).

Here’s one photo of Playa-from-the-Hill:


The big excitement of today, however, really was neat. A huge white bird came into the north pond (the one Cabin 10 looks out on). It looked like a swan, but with an enormous beak like a pelican. It was bigger than any pelican I’d ever seen.


And when it raised its wings to lord over some ducks, I saw stark black undersides to them.


PelicanGroomingI sneaked outside to take photos, although it didn’t seem to take any notice of my presence. I saw it eat a couple of fish with its tremendous beak, sliding them into its beak and down its gullet which was long and elegant.

It came right up to the edge of the pond where I was photographing:


When it flew off I saw the black underwings again. Stark black against stark white. And not thin like a heron.


This guy was substantial. So when Rachel came back from her work with the neighbor I asked her about it. She got all excited, found it in a book, and said they had never been seen on these ponds before. It was an American White Pelican, which is very scarce because of pesticides and human invasions. It can have a 10 foot wing span. The flight was stunning.

I think I’m very lucky to be in Cabin 10.

Afterward everything else was a kind of anti-climax. I laid in the shapes for a couple of paintings. I want to try to paint the morning mist that seems to rise in the south playa (there might still be some water down there). I saw it today, but couldn’t bear to take my stuff out at that unhealthy early hour.

Other than that, I finished off a painting or two and worked a couple more to see what would happen. And laid in the shapes for the ones I’d like to get at soon. I’m not exactly an early riser — Rachel volunteered, with a guffaw, to come and get me up. I have been waking up early, but that doesn’t mean I’m ready to roll. And I’m still a bit sore from my hike yesterday (my little walk, actually) so I don’t know if tomorrow is the day I’ll get up at an hour that some people (you know who you are) deem acceptable. I also have an idea about what I can do with the very long view up on the hill but I’ll have to explore that some more.


Rachel gave me three kinds of mosquito repellant so I don’t need to go to Paisley to get any. And my beer is holding out well, as is the food:-) Maybe spaghetti for dinner tonight. Haven’t decided yet. I’m starting to wear down, so it might be tuna fish instead. I had guacamole for lunch, with tomato and lots of onions and lemon juice. It was wonderful. The avocado was just at its best stage — perfection. I’ve been drinking cold ginger tea and liking that a lot. I see that there’s plenty of herbal teas for the taking in the Commons so if I run out I’ll have plenty of substitutes. –June

2 thoughts on “Playa September 14, 2013

  1. I really find your diary fascinating. I like the notion of keeping views for future use – my photographer husband does that too. And I really love your pictures of the bird on that lovely pond – but best of all that last picture! Given the wide horizons, the light, the beautiful landscape anyway … it is the close view of water, and reeds and grasses which appeal most to me. It is most interesting to try to work out what one would paint were one in your glorious position. That would be a feast – but looking at your photos and reading your comments is more than enough of a meal. Thanks.

    • Hi Olga, Thinking about what to paint was really fascinating. I was restricted because I had no car, only shank’s mare to move around with. But even being limited to foot and cart gave me a wealth of possibilities. It is, I find, almost always the case: if you settle into a space and place, something will present itself as worth painting.

      I love close-ups of things, but I don’t find myself painting them. I have no idea why that is, but it’s kind of fun to be the observer of what other’s do in a manner that I love. No envy, just enjoyment (or at least no envy so long as I myself am painting what I enjoy:-) ).

      The tale of the panorama possibility continues, as well you might imagine.

      Thanks for checking in.

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