Fantastic Frozen Waterfalls!

Hiking the frozen Smokies!

By Rachelle Siegrist

Smokies in winter

Uncle . . . Uncle!” I cried in hopes that my verbal surrender would somehow cause the relentless ice cap that had descended upon us, to lessen its grip. Alas it did not help, but it never hurts to try I thought. At this point I would try almost anything to bring a bit of warmth back into our part of the world! I know many of you are much colder than we are and for that I am truly sorry, and so I try to remain positive. So while wrestling with a dozen layers of clothes, which I must somehow manage to get on to keep warm, I realize I’ve burned as many calories as one would in a 10-minute intensive aerobic workout! “Now there’s a benefit” I thought to myself.

frozen waterfall in smokies

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade I say, and we did just that this past week, taking advantage of some amazing effects of the current frigid weather.  Friend Kit joined us and we hiked to a nearby waterfall, which of course was frozen!  Wearing enough clothes to fill an entire clothes rack, we started our icy adventure, and I found that as soon as we started ascending the mountainside, all was warm and toasty except for my fingers, which I kept glancing at inside my mittens, just to be sure they were still there and attached.

rachelle siegrist with frozen smokies waterfall

WOW!” I exclaimed seeing the frozen falls for the first time!  They were truly stunning and unlike anything I’ve ever seen in person!  Carefully we crept over scattered large rocks, until we had reached the bottom of the falls.  There the usual dark pool of water, was frozen over entirely, having turned a milky white instead!  Only a couple of small openings remained where the water gurgled over cascades, trapping bubbles under the ice, that spun in circles as the water flowed underneath.  I sat there on a large rock watching it, becoming entranced by the abstract movements of the trapped bubbles and accompanying sounds.

smokies wintertime

The waterfall was gloriously mounded over with great globs of ice and icicles, that hung like long crystal tendrils, some three-foot or more in length!  Water still flowed behind the ice curtain, and the muffled sound of the falling water deep inside, made it sound like a waterfall off at a distance.  A couple of small cave-like holes in the encasement of ice allowed peaks inside the icy sculpture.

icicles in smokies

Every blade of grass and leaf scattered about the bank was completely encased in ice and frozen in place!  It was truly a magical winter wonderland and I felt very blessed to have the opportunity to see it!

winter in the smokies

Standing on frozen ground while admiring the scene, I remembered that just a week and a half ago, I was standing on the beach in Florida about the same time of day.  There I stood barefoot, wearing only shorts and a tank top, relaxingly gazing out at the horizon where water meets sky, each receding wave gently tugging at my ankles.  There the warmth of the sun could be felt all over.  Two encounters with water, but drastically different indeed!

rachelle siegrist hiking the smokies

Returning back to the vehicle, we enjoyed hot chocolate and fresh baked blueberry scones, while thawing out and recounting what we had seen.  Now back in the studio, I still have to check and make sure my fingers are still there, and am donning enough clothes to once again fill a clothes rack.  It is then while painting at my easel, I imagine running toward the beach, leaving a trail of discarded winter clothes behind me.  Arriving at the water’s edge wearing my swimsuit, I am faced with a big decision, do I dive into the warm water and blissfully float about or fall back into the warm sand, letting the sun thaw my frozen flesh.  Perhaps I’ll enjoy both by going only halfway, or perhaps returning back to reality, I’ll add another layer of clothing and keep on painting.

smokies winter photo

~ Fresh off the Easels ~

This week brought more easel time, and I finished my current dog commission.  Wes is also working on a commission, which is a surprise, so I’ll be sharing them with you as soon as the recipients have excitedly received them.  I’m currently painting a pelican which I photographed at Sailfish Marina recently, while Wes finished a western landscape painting with several wee bison in it.

Wes’ “Crossing The Land Time Forgot”

commission a dog painting by rachelle siegrist

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Until next time . . .





In My Little Boat!

Experiencing the Repose of Nature!

by Rachelle Siegrist

lake in the mountains

There are moments when all anxiety and stated toil are becalmed in the infinite leisure and repose of nature.”  Thoreau’s words could not be more true! After an exciting, but somewhat hectic fall season, Wes and I experienced the calm he talked of, while immersing ourselves in nature this past Friday!  We decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and headed over to a nearby lake with our kayaks in tow.

rachelle siegrist kayaking

With expansive clear azure skies above, we climbed into our kayaks and as soon as my paddle dipped into the crystal clear icy water below, I breathed a sigh, and instantly melted!  There’s something truly wonderful about being on the water, watching the sunlight dance on the surface, creating a hypnotic effect of what appears to be thousands of shimmering diamonds.  The sound of the wind blowing across the lake’s surface and through trees on surrounding hillsides, as well as birdsong filled the air!

canada geese in fall

I was indeed in my happy place again, and couldn’t resist singing the line out of an old song . . . “Not a care have I, in my little boat.”  Slowly making our way through thick grasses and crispy, dried weeds, we quietly sat while watching a flock of geese preen and bathe. Several ducks and coots joined the flock, all enjoying the glorious late fall weather!

coot photo

Warblers nearby checked and sang occasionally, as well as wrens, titmice, juncos and goldfinches, as we slowly paddled along.  Finding the perfect lunch spot, we tucked our kayaks into a thicket of grasses, and commenced eating, while watching and listening to all that nature had to offer.  The peace and quiet was priceless, as the only sounds to be heard were that of birdsong, wind in the trees and the water lapping against our kayaks as it gently rocked us back and forth.


Jokingly, I felt my pulse to make sure my blood pressure had not dropped too much in my state of complete bliss, while surveying our personal outdoor restaurant, deciding there was none finer anywhere!  Paddling along later, I began noticing how each time I slipped over the water plants lying on the water’s surface, the trapped air formed bubbles, which would slowly rise to the top of the water and burst, creating living, fluid, abstract works of art filled with luminescent colors!

water droplets photo

I couldn’t get enough of this delightful show of nature, mesmerized by the brilliant ever changing bubbles!  Then Wes pointed out where a Beaver had been gnawing on a young sapling recently!  “How very exciting!”  I said, glad to know he was still there!  Later I found the perfect place to practice my “kayaking Limbo”, proving to be even more fun than doing it on roller skates!

kayaking woth rachelle siegrist

Soon it was time to head back across the  lake, and by that time the wind had shifted against us and picked up.  The water became very choppy with occasional whitecaps forming, and although it created challenging paddling, it made for a fun ride!  The flexibility of the kayak made it to where I could feel the movement of each and every wave against the bottom of my legs, making it feel as if I was just sitting atop the water!  I didn’t realize how much I had let the waves caress and rock my kayak until returning and finding my dry storage with a fair amount of water in it!

mountain lakes

Soon we had returned to the boat ramp, loaded the kayaks and were heading back, but after such a blissful day, I couldn’t help but wear a smile on my face the entire way home! We’re looking forward to a visit from Wes’ parents this week!

The 84th Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers Society of Washington, D.C. International Exhibition of Fine Art in Miniature opens today, November 19th and runs through January 6, 2018,  The miniature exhibition is held at the beautiful Mansion At Strathmore in North Bethesda, MD.  If you’re in the area, this is a wonderful opportunity to see six of our miniature paintings in person!Wes and Rachelle Siegrists 2017 MPSGS Paintings


yellow lab painting, yellow Labrador Retriever painting, dog commission by rachelle siegrist

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

Enjoying Time With My Parents!

Enjoying time with my parents!

by Rachelle Siegrist

My parents arrived at our home here in the Smokies late last Wednesday. They’ve been thoroughly enjoying the cool mornings, while sitting and relaxing on the back porch, happily leaving behind the heat and humidity of south Florida for a few days! We spent a couple of hours at the river one afternoon, while friend Sharon and I took what may very well be our last tubing trip down! The icy cold water seemed even colder this time, especially when it totally soaked us going down the largest set of rapids!  Of course Mom and Dad got lots of laughs out of watching us, and it cracked everyone around up, when I exclaimed that Sharon’s legs looked like a naked chicken with her mountain-sized goose bumps!

rachelle siegrist in the smokies
Mom, Dad and me atop Look Rock Tower

Yesterday afternoon we took a leisurely drive up along the Foothills Parkway, while enjoying what little bit of fall color there is so far.  It appears that the warmer temps last week have obviously halted the color changing process, with most trees still being green and looking like summer!  Nonetheless, it was still a beautiful day and a perfect time to walk up to the Look Rock Tower, where we were treated to a 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains.

rachelle and wes siegrist
Mom, me and Wes by one of my happy places!

From there we drove along a narrow winding road, passing beautiful pastureland and homes nestled in hollers and tucked between mountains.  We ended up at the lake, where we watched sunlight dance on the rippled surface, looking like hundreds of diamonds.  Numerous sports cars and motorcycles either heading to, or returning from, an exhilarating drive along the Dragon, also entertained us as they passed by, with the most interesting being a motorcyclists wearing a big, furry sharks head, causing us to take a second look indeed!  This coming week has a full agenda, as we’re planning to enjoy seeing the sights and make new memories with my parents!

~ Fresh off the Easels ~

I recently finished this miniature portrait painting of my parents, to celebrate and honor their recent 50th wedding Anniversary!  As you can well imagine, they were both pleasantly surprised and very delighted!

Larry and Sally Davis 50th
“Mom and Dad”
commission miniature portrait painting
Shown with hands for scale

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle