Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fall Photo Shoot

On my walk around the pond I captured these scenes and many more inspiring ones. Here is the pond in early morning light. It's grown up a lot around the edges, the water has dropped and the fish are gone, but it still is a lovely place at any time of year. At one time it was clean enough to swim in, but not anymore.

Some of the most striking scenes I captured were backlighted, like these maples along the edge of the driveway and pond. But, even when the clouds came over, the trees still seemed to glow, like the maples below. I could see them from the kitchen window and from the family room and enjoyed them all weekend long.

The little town of Atlanta nearby is about as small town as you can get and still be called a town. I remember one year we took the kids to see the Fourth of July parade down the main street. It consisted of a few floats, some 4H kids on horses and the high school marching band. The band had no uniforms, and the parade was so short that they went by, turned around and came by again! In the past thirty years, it hasn't grown much of any, but at least there's a nice grocery store now and a much better fair grounds than our county has!

A Weekend Getaway

We spent a long weekend at our family getaway near Atlanta, Michigan this past weekend, but before we left, I caught site of the scene above from my studio window. Five swans came out of the early morning mist, the sun shining on them like specters of the lake. They spotted me in the window and immediately swam over looking for a handout, which I know better than to provide.

After loading up and saying goodbye to the cats, we headed for Atlanta on another spectacular day of warm sunshine and fall colors. Saturday dawned sunny, warm and still so I took a walk around the pond with my camera and captured as much as I could for memories and paintings to come.

My parents-in-law bought this property in the 50's for hunting, but the family gathered here frequently over the years for holidays and snowmobiling, and eventually the folks retired here. We spent our honeymoon here and used to take long walks in the woods before kids, so it has a very special place in my heart.

When they first bought the property, this is the shack that the folks, my husband and his brother stayed in when they came up to plant and tend the hundreds of tiny pine trees that were planted on the bare hills. A pond was dug and stocked with fish, and not too many years later, a mobile home replaced the shack. It was added to over the years to accommodate the growing family of wives and grandchildren.

The years have since taken their toll on the old shack whose additions have now fallen down or caved in. It has a melancholy look now as if it holds memories of much better days and people whom we can only wonder about. Such abandoned shacks are pretty common around the northern Michigan woods, and one always wonders what stories they could tell about their former inhabitants. Now they are left to the skunks, raccoons and other wild creatures who find bits of shelter in their dilapidated ruins.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Remembering Bo

We are having absolutely spectacular fall weather here in northwest lower Michigan; warm, sunny days and cool nights which have brought out equally spectacular fall colors. We are nowhere near peak color yet, but it's a good color year with the brilliant oranges and reds of the maples contrasted against the dark evergreens and golden yellows of our beech trees and poplars. It's been a bumper year for beechnuts, so the squirrels are again busy bounding about in our yard gathering their harvest for the winter.

Thankfully, we have no apples, so that means no deer to browse on my perennials and shrubs. On the other hand, that also means no apples for us, which means I had to buy some for the first time in three years!

Unfortunately, I'm stuck in the house looking out while continuing to work on gathering financial information for our advisor guy; made all the more urgent by the financial crisis in our world. Ugh! I've been adding up our monthly expenses and wondering how everything got so much more expensive so quickly.

In spite of also nursing a sore throat and headache, I did manage to get outside yesterday to give my car a very overdue interior cleaning. I felt a little sad while doing it because I was washing the last of Bo's muddy paw prints off the back seat and vacuuming up his hairs from the cargo area. We lost him two years ago this month, and yes, it's been that long since the car had a good cleaning!

I still miss Bo. I remember the joy this small Lab mix pooch brought to the family for nearly 16 years after we rescued him on a freezing December night from a household that had banished him to the yard with no shelter from the cold and wind and very little human contact. We were just going to take a look at him that night in response to the ad in the paper, but when my husband saw the conditions he was living in; tied to a tree and shivering; there was no way he was going to let that dog spend another cold and miserable night in that place. Bo eagerly hopped in our car with not even a look back as our kids showered him with attention.

In the first 24 hours we had him, he had to be shoved out the door to go potty because he was so afraid that he couldn't come back in. We got him as a companion for our German Shepherd, and they bonded immediately. Bo thought he was in Heaven and showed us every day how grateful he was. He and Daisy became best friends and spent hours playing in the big dog yard until Daisy became too old and crippled to enjoy the rough housing.

Bo had a habit of tuning you out when his attention was focused on something. If he got loose, he would take off on a dead run out the gate and into the road. Most likely it was this propensity that caused him to end up a stray on the doorstep of the family that took him in, so one of his nicknames became Hobo Joe. More often we called him Bobo. We could never trust him to be on the loose, but around the house he wanted nothing more than to be at your side - or Daisy's.

Bo never did get over his dislike of the cold or isolation, and after Daisy died he became strictly an inside dog.

Well, now I've digressed. The two photos at the top are views from my studio. Our lake is quite narrow and long, and on a still morning like this one, the fall colors are reflected in the water, adding to the brilliance of the scene. I love the view from my studio window, and one of these days I'm going to paint it.

Speaking of the studio, poor Bard is languishing on the easel as I work on these financial figures. It will take two or three days in a row that I can dedicate to painting in order to finish him up, and so far I haven't been able to put them together. I'm determined to finish him by month's end, however.