We started the week off with friends Fred and Barb taking us out for an early celebration of my birthday. Friends Bill and Darlene also joined us, and after enjoying a yummy pizza for supper, our tastebuds were tantalized with a delicious chocolate feast at the Melting Pot! We quickly consumed two pots of dark chocolate, into which we dipped assorted treats. It really didn’t matter what we were dipping anyway, as it was all about the chocolate to me! With an unsettled weather forecast for my birthday later that week, we decided at the last minute to go on a short hike, after weather conditions changed in our favor.
We chose to walk along a trail located not too far from where we live, which follows alongside a stream most of the way. We walked far enough this time, to revisit the remnants of an old vehicle abandoned in the woods, reminding all who see it of a bygone era, of simpler times and ways. We laughingly joked that this was the car Wes had graciously got me for my birthday, and I decided once it was fixed up a little and painted cotton candy pink, perhaps it would be quite cute! There are several large boulders along the trail, and many I couldn’t resist exploring.
We walked back into a cozy, little secluded spot, where we relaxingly sat and watched a couple of small waterfalls dancing over large rocks, filling the air with a welcomed mist and the delightful sounds of roaring water. Several Bay Rhododendrons were starting to bloom, showcasing clumps of delicate white and soft pink flowers against their bright green foliage. This one in particular was especially beautiful, with the white water of the cascade flowing behind.
While I have spent much of my time this past week at the easel, and Wes has been busily working with his SAA job, we did manage to paint our basement walls and floors, and are both quite happy to have that job now marked off the to do list!
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~ Recently off the Easels ~
I just finished painting my latest pet portrait miniature of a precious girl named Lucy. Before photographing her, I had brushed her extensively while fixing her fur, and I do believe she was feeling quite beautiful, while posing and sporting her new coiffure for me afterwards! Currently on my easel is a miniature painting of two turkeys which I’ll be sharing with you next week. Wes is working on a Spotted Sandpiper which we photographed on one of our recent kayaking trips.
“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.
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.
“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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
~ 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’ parents were visiting us here in the Smokies this past week, so we took advantage of the beautiful weather and headed outdoors! Friends, Tom and Sharon, joined us this past Monday for a day of adventure, which started with a hike to one of the lovely balds in our area. Brilliant blue skies accompanied us overhead, as we started our hike upwards and onwards. At 5,560 ft in elevation, the trees were still mostly bare, sporting only a few baby leaves in spots. After walking along a tree lined path, you round the corner and Voila’ . . . the woods opens up revealing the first glimpse of the grassy bald.
Walking farther along we reached the crest of the lower bald, covered with yellow Buttercup blossoms, where Wes’ parents decided to stay while the rest of us hiked to the very top.
Up and up we went until we came to the very top. It was truly magnificent, and no matter how many times I visit there, I never tire of this splendid view, while feeling on top of the world!
Upon reaching the top of the bald, I said “I have always wanted to do this up here.” So after fixing my jacket to look like a skirt, I started spinning around slowly, arms outstretched to the side, while belting out “The hills are alive . . . with the sound of music!” Then somehow I managed to convince Tom and Sharon to spin along with me while I sang, and so we spun . . . round and round . . . until we were totally dizzy to the point of nearly falling down and overcome with laughter! We thought it a most brilliant performance and considered Wes lucky to have seen it!
A slideshow of our amazing performance for your viewing enjoyment . . . Ha Ha!
We could see Wes’ parents on the lower bald, appearing as two wee white dots on a canvas of blue and green! We felt on top of the world up there while enjoying the splendid 360 degree view, feeling as if we were earth’s only inhabitants!
Descending the bald, we found Wes parents sitting on a rock, just relaxing and enjoying the grand view!
We enjoyed a relaxing stroll as we descended the bald, serenaded by numerous birds, such as the Chestnut-sided Warbler, singing their springtime songs and the sound of a gentle breeze blowing softly through the still barren trees. Returning to the trailhead, we headed to our next adventure where we cooled off a bit.
It was a perfect day for a dip in the water, and even though Tom bravely dove right in, Sharon and I weren’t so brave. It took us quite sometime to finally go under, as we competed seeing who was in farther, while inching our way into the frigid water! Just as Sharon was proudly announcing that she was in deeper and thus winning, I suddenly went under, quickly popping back up and announcing that I had won! Of course a few seconds later, she too was in all the way! We floated blissfully around while Wes’ mom sat at the water’s edge and Tom snorkeled.
Finally when we were both started shaking uncontrollably, we decided it time to get out and warm up in the sun for awhile. Later a picnic supper was enjoyed as well as another delightful walk in the woods, and as we returned home that night, decided it had indeed been a most delightful day!
Thursday we met up with artist friend John Agnew and his wife Pat at the Abrams Creek Trailhead. It was another lovely day as we started our hike and quickly found ourselves hiking up some pretty steep inclines, making our way up and over a couple of high sections before descending back down to the creek’s edge. Of course it was great fun stopping at each stream crossing to look for salamanders and since we were with John, a salamander hunter extraordinaire, we met with great success, as it seemed each rock he gently lifted, revealed another adorable resident below!
John searches for salamanders, Wes, John and Pat taking a break, and a wee worm snake
I don’t think we have ever seen such a splendid display of the delicate light pink blossoms of the Mountain Laurels, as there were along that trail and lining the banks of the creek! It was spectacular to say the least, and at times the breeze caught their soft scent filling the air and delighting our noses!
It seemed every curve in the trail brought more stunning pink blossoms, making it feel as if we were walking through a natural botanical garden! It had gotten quite warm during the day, making it perfect for a wade in the water, which I did several times over!
Of course salamanders weren’t the only treasured finds of the day, as we also found several centipedes and even a worm snake which was adorable! Returning to the trailhead, we realized the day had passed and it was now evening as we said our goodbye! More wonderful memories made!