My brother had a huge 50th birthday bash at Happy Jack Lodge and RV Park over the weekend. Saturday, we played whiffle ball, ate, drank a little, visited a lot, endured the rain, enjoyed the pristine night sky, toasted marshmallows, and generally had an amazing time. It was my father's, my mother's, my son's, and my nephew's birthday, as well. September is a busy month for our family and there were close to 50 of us there ranging in age from 74 to 2 months, plus the dogs.
It was so cool to have all the family together like that. I missed two of my four sons and one grandson, as they're all back east. They were there in my heart, though. The only thing that could've made the party any better would've been for them to have been there. Otherwise, it was perfect.
The "After Party"
Most everybody packed up their RVs and headed home Sunday morning. I talked my husband into letting me stay in our tent one more night, so I could get some painting in. I mean, I was already up there in the wilderness and I really wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. He wasn't too keen on the idea, but my brother and sister would still be there in the park, if I needed anything. So, he packed up all the things I wouldn't need for the night and headed back home.
It rained all day Sunday. A lost painting day, but I did get to spend time with my son and his family. They didn't leave until late in the day. Plus, I got to hang out with my brother and sister. We reconnoitered a painting spot for the morning. That night my tent leaked. I was wet and freezing. I ended up spending the night in my sister's pop-up tent trailer.
Monday came and, luckily, so did the sun. My brother and I headed down to East Clear Creek, so he could fish and I could paint, finally. The forecast called for more rain after about 11 a.m.. The clouds were moving fast and furious. The light changed on my subject, the creek, by the minute. Every now and then, a great gust of wind would blow through the canyon. My brother helped me pile some rocks onto my French easel and when the wind blew, I'd hold onto the easel and the umbrella until it passed. I was in heaven. Me, my paint, my brother, and the elements.
My brother had to leave, eventually. There were no fish and he had to get back to Happy Jack Lodge to hook up his trailer and get he and his wife back home to Winslow. He didn't want to leave me there and offered me his gun. I'm not much of a gun person, even though, I was on the ROTC rifle team in high school and qualified as Expert with the M16 in the Army. I like shooting, especially, skeet shooting. I love that. I just don't like guns. So he said he'd be back with my sister-in-law to check on me and my progress in an hour or so.
It took me a long time to get there, but I really started feeling a groove with my painting. The skies were blue. The threat of rain gone. Life was good. I pulled out the manganese violet. If felt my painting was coming to life. It was then, they started screaming.
The squirrels and birds all erupted into this violent, echo-y, chorus of panic. "What if it's a bear?" I thought. "Or, a mountain lion?" I spun around to check my surroundings, as thoughts of my brother's gun flashed through my head.
I'm sure the gust was gale force. My easel lay on the ground before I could complete a full 360 degree turn. The squirrels and birds weren't screaming because a scary animal was in the neighborhood. They were screaming because the wind knocked them off of wherever they were perched to watch me paint.
Luckily, my picture landed face up. Unluckily, the paint on my palette was full of sand and my sense of security had vanished. I was ready to go home. I couldn't help, but laugh, though, at my easel laying there, so ungracefully, with its umbrella crumpled in the dirt and its leg sticking up in the air, like it had rigor mortis.
I used that easel, specifically, because it was so much heavier than my Guerrilla box, but Mother Nature always has the last say. I wasn't trying to fool her. I just wanted to hang out for a while and paint her, you know? But, I paint slow and it seems she's an antsy sitter.