These are dust devils in eastern Washington. They rise up from the dusty Palouse and wheat fields especially after the wheat has just been harvested.
I love them because they are proof that, even though, on the surface, the land has been thoroughly tamed by humans, there are some things we can’t control.
Each time I see them they inspire awe. Also, the recognition of dust bunnies … I mean Devils … as something that can’t be controlled is a great metaphor for the way I keep my house.
The highway to the volcano Hekkla, once known as the gateway to hell, was closed when we were in Iceland in the fall, as an increase in seismic activity had the geologists concerned that the eruption which had been overdue should be upgraded to status imminent.
We didn’t get to see any eruptions, but we did get a look at Hekkla’s sister, Eyjafjallajökull, which had been slightly hellish just a few years ago. From where we stood, however, the road to hell was gorgeous.
I found myself painting this a few times in my watercolor journal and again when I got home, and the results were always similar. The paintings were never faithful copied of my photographs but, rather interpretations of the vivid beauty and vastness of land that had been ravaged but then recovered.
I kept coming back to that theme of land and people recovering and digging out from the ashes, stronger than before. I go back to it even now, months later, and it helps me to temper my fears.
So my 16 and 10-year-old would be ashamed to admit it, but their pudgy middle-age mom dances when she paints landscapes. The more abstract the pic and wild the beat of the music, the more energetic and embarrassing –for the kids anyway — the dancing. My dancing is so bad that the only time I can really get away with it is in the middle of the night, which is how this painting happened.
WItching hour has become the painting hour for me. When there’s a full moon, it’s bark at the moon time for the dog. That’s how I ended up outside in the yard, keeping the dog on a leash and getting off of mine.
It’s a crystal clear night, and there are a large patches of muddy grass. There’s still a bit of snow, however. I waited for the dog to do her business without waking up the neighborhood, and was forced to take the time to really look at A moonlit winters night for the first time in a long time.
Seeing the variations in color different reflections made me realize how much depth there is to the night, and I started thinking of late night drives through the rolling countryside in Vermont and Washington county in New York State. The dog caught the scent of something, and I let her sniff at the end of the leash for a few minutes why drink in scenery.
And that’s how I ended up dancing in studio under the moonlight at 1 AM this morning. I highly recommend it.
It’s just barely past witching hour, and I’ve been chasing on paper one of those Lake Michigan days when it’s too rough to swim past your knees and too wild to stay cooped up inside away from the beach.
This is my favorite so far, but I’m still not sure if it’s a frog or a prince. But there’s a few hours before the sun come up, so I still have time to kiss a few more toads. And the hunt is a satisfying as the catch.
The warm winter here means the little snow we get doesn’t stay on the branches long and the thin layer on the ground evaporates into fog as quickly as it melts. On cloudy days it makes a different kind of winter wondering land.