Tuesday, September 1, 2015

september begins

Yesterday was the last day of #drawingAugust, so from the moment I woke up, I was planning to head to the woods. It took 13 hours to manage it, but at last, just before evening chores, Piper and I visited a favorite place.

A path takes us near a little stream, once dammed and channeled with huge stones, and used to power a long-forgotten mill. We often come here. You've seen lots of photographs from this area, but drawing bits of it has been a new experience for me. I think if it was on my property, this very small section of a tiny stream could provide daily inspiration for a lifetime.

Welcome to yesterday's studio:

(It was a two-cushion day.)

Piper and I have been playing little games while I draw.
Can you tell the games include Very Good Treats?

(Hint: the blurry tail is a clue.)

The rocks where I made my not-quite-zero-gravity-recliner
are part of the stone-edged millstream
below the remaining stonework of the dam.

Much earlier, I drew a section of the top of the dam.
Here's that one:

But yesterday I was well downstream,
atop one steep wall of stone,
looking down into one small section of stream.

I began by drawing the stone wall,
then expanded into the midstream rocks below:

Sorry about the wonky shadows;
the light is very spotty under the canopy.

But the sun was going down behind my left shoulder,
so the lateral light got much better as time went on:

Piper and I made up a new game yesterday.
Piper learned that if I tossed a treat
all the way across the stream,
she would have to run upstream along the stones,
then cross near the dam,
then find the little treat on the vast forest floor
and gobble it up!

Piper was very, very good at this.
And she enjoyed it so much, she would then reverse her route,
come back and plop down right next to me,
and look like this:

The game allowed me to concentrate for a few minutes at a time,
and finish the sketch before we went for a walk.

But before I packed up my pen and sketchbook
and water bottle and bug spray
(and "furniture"...
gosh it feels weird carrying cushions into the woods)
I took this final snap to post on twitter:

It really has been fun.
I missed a day or two here and there,
but I think I posted 25 sketches.
Not bad for a photographer.

Although - ironically - the pictures I posted
are almost universally terrible.
I've never shared such awful snaps, ever.
Not in draft documents, not in emails.

Usually I was taking the pictures late at night,
by the bedside lamp,
and hastening to get them onto twitter.
But still.
It's very strange.
I'll have to think about the significance of this.
Now that #drawingAugust 2015 has ended,
perhaps I'll photograph the sketches properly.
Possibly I'll put them all up on a separate, single blog page,
just as a record of the experience.

Monday, August 24, 2015

book giveaway and random beans

Just a quick note to announce
the winner of the crockpot cookbook giveaway, as promised:

Congratulations to Magpie's Mumblings!

Drop me an email with your mailing address,
and your book will soon be on its way.
I hope you will enjoy it,
and find some new favorite crockpot recipes.

Thanks to everyone who left a comment and a cooking tip!
One of my favorite things about blogging is
the way ideas are shared.

And now I'm falling asleep,
but it just doesn't feel right to put up a post without
at least one image, so...

here are some #drawingAugust beans:

Good night :)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

a fair day

Yesterday I visited the annual Hardwick Community Fair:
"The Oldest Fair in the United States"
est. 1762

For readers in some other parts of the world -
for readers in most other parts of the world! -
253 years is hardly ancient history.
But for the US, it's fairly old.
(See what I did there? Heh.)

And even in that long/short 253-year history,
the fair has not been held continuously.
Since 1762 - when, by the way, the residents of Massachusetts
still answered to the King of England - 
the Hardwick Fair has vanished several times.

Some interludes began with a major event.

The Revolutionary war...the Civil War...

but afterward, the gap sometimes stretched on for decades.

The fact that townspeople have stepped up
and reactivated the Fair,
over and over again,
is special, I think.

Physically, it's a small fair, held on the Town Common.
There are organized activities for children,
booths for local vendors, and traditional skills demonstrations.
Across the road, there's a long tent for dairy cattle.

I'm so happy there are still dairy cattle to be shown here.
In the past 30 years or so, this region has lost dairies
the same way it has lost small lumbermills:
in big, sad numbers.

People from many nearby towns enter the competitions.
Crosscut sawing. Sack races. Cakes and pies. Fun things.

Lots of beautiful produce: fruits, vegetables, eggs, herbs.

Food and flower displays in the Town Hall.

Sewing, knitting and other handcrafts in the church hall.

 And by some miracle, after a series of rainy days
that left the ground feeling like a squelchy sponge,
the sun shone yesterday
but the air was not terribly humid!
It was hot, but still refreshing.

Back to normal today, though - air like wet gauze.

And poor little Fern had a bellyache today.
I sat on a chaise in the barn and kept an eye on her
while picking out photographs for this post.
Very happy to report that I just came in from evening chores,
and though she is still a bit quiet,
Fern is definitely feeling better.
Thank goodness.
Now the new week can get off to a good start.
I hope it will be a great week for all of us :)

Just a reminder: 
I'll draw the winner of the crockpot cookbook giveaway
tomorrow at noon ET.
Still time to enter!
Good luck  :)