Sunday, June 8, 2014

An Early Summer Sketching Trip

This post is more about a particular evening than it is about the sketch, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless. It's also sort of a part one to the next planned post.

This was one of those early summer evenings along the Wasatch Front. 

The day's weather had been warm and partly cloudy. I had been caught up during the day tending to other distractions, but later finally found myself free of the day's concerns. It was tempting then to just plug into the internet and veg out, but I was eager to get outside and take a walk. Even a little walk. I got in my car not sure of where I was going, but soon found myself at a trail head on the Wasatch Bench Trail. 

There's a day pack in my car that's always available for any spur of the moment wanderings I may take. This little pack has some basics in it; water, compass, rain poncho, flashlight, first aid kit, knife, sketchbook, etc. A little essential whatever for wherever and whenever I may wander. As usual I take this pack with me as I walk southward along the trail.

It's late May – technically not summer but feels like it. It's the season when summer still feels fresh. The trail is dry, but for the most part the trees and grass on the mountainside are still green – as yet unsinged by the mid summer sun that will be here in just a few weeks. In a meadow between clumpy stands of Gambel oak, a deer stands watching the human travelers on the path fifty yards away. Even back lit, the deer's red-brown hide stands out against the fresh summer greenery. I stop and watch the deer for a minute or two, and then move on. The sun is low in the western sky, shining through patchy clouds above the Tintic, Lake and Oquirrh mountains. The silhouetted clouds are blue-gray, blending into lavender towards their edges which are brightly lit by the westward sun. The air is so pleasantly warm. The evening breezes are gentle, occasionally becoming a little more assertive but never too gusty. It feels good against the skin. I leave the trail and walk up the slope a short distance to some boulders. There I take a seat, pull the sketchbook out of the pack and sketch a stand of Quercus gambelii.

Below me is the town, full of activity. Lights down there begin to come on as the sun crosses the horizon. The lights make the town look all a-twinkle. But up here on the bench, the dusk is peaceful and soothing. Clouds above the western mountains are an even slate color now. A thin crescent moon, just a day or two old, looks down, still able to see the sun which is no longer in my view. Night breezes caress my skin and tussle my hair. Crickets chirp in perfect time.

The bell tower down on campus tolls nine times as I begin the walk back to the car. Usually I'd have tunes cranked up on the stereo as I drive, but tonight the radio is silent. Turning it on would seem... wrong. The air conditioner I had used earlier in the day is off, and the windows are rolled down.

I think I need to do some shopping before I go home, and stop at a store along the way. There in the store I get caught up in all the bright colors of packaging and rows and rows of goods on shelves, along with their prices, advertising and other signs. The magic of the evening dissipates. When I get back out to the car I realize that the spirit that was with me up on the mountain bench – a spirit of peace that had even accompanied me as I drove down off the bench – is no longer with me.

This had been one of those early summer evenings along the Wasatch Front. One of those evenings far too brief, but oh so valuable. One of those things that can never be found online, or in any store.

But I know where to look for it, if I want to find it.

Next time - what a difference a day makes!

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