My Big Island Favorites and “The Whistler”, 2015

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Photos taken on my recent month-long stay on the Big Island of Hawaii – my 4th annual trip in what has become a welcome rest from the Colorado snow, although I do love snow. As you probably know by now, in my paintings or my photos, I am all about pattern, texture and color…as you can see.

We painted plein air, we painted in studio, we took day trips both north to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Waimea and down south of the Captain Cook area to a black sand beach where we were told about one particular whale who has become a local favorite, and a legend I predict. This whale is a female (because they see her every year with her newest baby) whose blow-hole is damaged or deformed somewhat, so when she blows she whistles a loud haunting whistle that everyone on shore can here. Each year they look forward to the return of “The Whistler” and watch her playing just off shore of this black sand beach in the evening hours. I took the sunset pictures you see here at that very location. They also tell me that the whales breech here daily in February/March making loud smacking sounds when their tales hit the water – loud enough in the morning hours to wake you from a sound sleep. They are swimming north on their yearly migration, headed through the Maui Channel onward to Alaska, and this beach is a resting place to stop and play. We also saw whales in Kona harbor, purposely, I believe, putting on quite a show for everyone lined up on the pier one evening. Is it possible….can you imagine….that this human-being/whale connection is somehow bigger than we all imagine? They know that in certain areas of the planet we are appreciative and friendly, desperately wanting to know them better and wishing them no harm, while in other foreboding seas they might be cold bloodedly slaughtered.

All animals who migrate, including whales, sea turtles and sharks, migrate for just three simple reasons – mating and birthing, abundant feeding and a climate that is tolerable. Those three conditions rule their travels.

I do believe that the same three conditions rule the travels of human beings! Think about it.

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The Force of Mutha Nature

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Well it’s been a wild Memorial weekend ride around the Denver area, and it’s only Sunday noon as I write this. This week, by some otherworldly twist of fate (twist being the operative word here) I found myself in two of the exact and most threatening locations where funnel clouds were spotted around the city, just days apart. How strange.

I never say that I don’t get out much – I do get out a lot – I am all over the place actually, driving and doing stuff from Boulder, 45 minutes to the north to Evergreen and Conifer in the mountains west of Denver and then twenty minutes south of the city where I live. Every north, south, east and west direction has been under the assault of Mutha Nature. We have had a session of turbulent skies bringing walls of rain so dark that you cannot see what is going on around you when you are driving in them, hail ranging from marble to almost softball size bringing severe damage, wind and flash floods all resulting in many insurance adjustments. I like weather drama but this is over the top. The 2 funnel clouds I found myself directly under – one while having lunch with a friend in the Cherry Creek area ( where the waiter asked us if we would like to go to the basement and we, for some crazy giggly reason, was it the Sangria? – declined) – and the other being an enormous, dense black storm cell wall of water I actually drove through as my cell phone was screaming an alarm to me to “TAKE COVER IMMEDIATLY! – never actually got their funnel acts together enough to do anything more than wave around in the sky in a serpentine  tail, trying to touch ground. I saw them on the news. If I had known what was over me I might not have been able to keep a grip on myself.

I have never driven through such a storm as I did in the second experience – I could not pull over, I could not stop, because cars would have hit me in that process since none of us could see the lines in the road or what was ahead. There were no possible shelters. I had no idea, when my excruciatingly loud cell phone alarm sounded whether I was driving further into the center of the storm action or if I was lucky enough to be driving out of it – the car radio told me next to nothing, thanks a lot. Luckily I was soon going to be driving west, up the canyon to Conifer,  so I knew that when that exit came, things would improve….but barely. Tornados just do not happen in steep canyons and mountain areas….I have been told. However the rain had created an actual river coming down the canyon highway, so deep I was afraid my engine would stall out since the car was making waves as I drove.

When I finally arrived in Conifer and we turned on TV the weather map showed the area I had driven through was the very middle of a gigantic storm cell containing funnel clouds, slowly moving north and east away as I turned west into the canyon. I had been directly under that phenomenon for about 8 miles. I was shaking. My friend, who had been a car or two ahead of me but out of sight,  poured me a vodka shot.  He seemed fine – I was not. It took us a while to laugh.

The outdoor decks, flagstone terrace and steps, ground and rocks on my friend’s property in Conifer were covered with what the hail damage had caused a couple days before – it looked like chopped broccoli but was actually shredded healthy green pine needles and branches and pine cones – the trees had been mauled. They looked pathetic. It was overwhelming to see such destruction – and that was just the yard. The house and other buildings will all need new roofs. A skylight is broken and leaking. The Ping-Pong sized hail pounded the place for a full half hour.

OK so does all of this adrenalin-fueled fear go away, after you realize you are still alive? No. I can still feel all of that experience sitting here as I type. Sun is out, sort of, but I am right back in it in my mind.

So what am I going to do with myself? Well of course I ‘m going to paint.

We shall see what that brings…..the YLC is talking to me again.