So, several days into this art workshop , and I definitely know I love this! We've been painting in the studio each morning, then after lunch we take our brushes and head into the back country...hiking, climbing, boating or driving as far away from the tourist areas as we can get. I'm seeing glacier-fed lakes that are so icy-cold that I'd survive no more than a minute in the water, and then hypothermia...and the game's over. At least, that's what the backpacker among us cheerfully tells me.
I've been surrounded by the most beautiful range of snow-topped mountains...and been to places that few people ever go. I've been on a boat trip across Maligne Lake, past mountains with glaciers clinging to their slopes...to Spirit Island. This diminutive and perfect island has been our instructor's favorite painting site for years...but changes in the lease agreement with our government department that controls and protects our national parks no longer allows us to stop there and paint. I have to settle for a 10 minute walk along railed paths, and a hundred photos, taken quickly because of the line-up waiting to shoot their photos.
I've spent an afternoon, wrapped in the warmest fleece jacket and wool sweater that I own, sitting in a make-shift lounge chair created by a depression in the rocks along the Snaring River. With my paints, water bottle, brushes, and assorted snacks spread around me like a picnic on the rocks, I've sketched, then painted...not a perfect one, but I know that I'll forever look at this small painting, and remember the cold wind, the autumn colors and the feel of the boulders warm from the sun.
Evenings I've spent after class, with my granddaughter. She's working here in this jewel of a mountain community...the view outside of her front door might come from any calendar in the gift shops along the main street. Mostly we eat at Earl's...Kennebuc fries, Thai green curry on jasmine rice, Forno chicken and roasted new potatoes, fresh asparagus and the ever-present crisp, chilled glass of wine. Funny, sitting here sharing a meal with this amazing young woman, my first grandchild. She's as tiny and delicate as an ivory Belleek vase, yet there is a strength and resilience in her that always makes me look twice. My mother-in-law used to marvel at my granddaughter's mother...my daughter...and call her, ever-so-lovingly, an "independent little stick". I think this apple falls not far from the mother-tree.
We've gone horse-back riding, shopped for a cluster of new wines for our shelves at a 2 story wine cellar...wandered for hours along the shops and stores, sometimes choosing a cheese for a snack or spicy hand lotion for a treat. One evening, we colored each other's hair. On her days off, she has graced me with her presence at my cottage and stayed over...jammie parties with my granddaughter!
The workshop is nearly over, and we've been gifted with the news that the lodge manager is allowing us to stay on after their closing day...with no charge! The housekeeping staff stock our cottages with heaps of fresh linen and an over-abundance of freshly cut firewood for our fireplaces. It feels like camping...only with the luxury of a fireplace, a warm place to sleep and running water!
Next year, I'll be like the 20 or so regular participants who come here to paint every year...I'll book 2 weeks off work, pack my car with all the necessary and not-so-necessary things and return for another time.
I'll head home tomorrow...rested, relaxed and rejuvenated. I've had 15 days with no alarm clock, no phone and no daytimer. It has been such a treat for me...I am ready to go home.
My painting companion at Horseshoe Lake...
Maligne Lake tranquility
Spirit Island...my first look at it