Hiking the frozen Smokies!
By Rachelle Siegrist
“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.
Follow us on Facebook!
Until next time . . .