Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Upcycling #3: A Trailside Show

Showy Penstemon
Approx. 24" X 12"
Acrylic on Oak Cabinet Door
Our first trail of the season—where we bust out our boots and walk off the cobwebs after the winter doldrums—is out along a stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail east of the Cedar Springs Dam at Lake Silverwood. It's transitional in nature, sitting on the edge of the foothills between the mountains and the desert: a carpet of dense chaparral with Manzanita, Scrub Oaks, Wild Lilac, Sage, and Rabbit Brush. In the folds where water runs off the ridges, you'll find Sycamore, Willows, Currant, and (yikes!) Poison Oak.

It's a gentle undulating path that snakes you in and out—to the inside curve and then the outside curve of the knuckle-ridges that run along one side of a green valley sprinkled with cattle. In the cool temperatures of early spring, the trail is fringed with tender green plants and wildflowers of astonishing variety—one of the reasons we return again and again. Every hike is a new discovery of colorful blooms: Chia, Penstemon, Larkspur, Indian Paintbrush, and others. But by early summer, the area is as hot as the face of the sun—with only dry brown stalks remaining from the evanescent flowers of spring.

We chanced upon this Penstemon, which was unlike any we'd seen before on our travels, and we encountered a handful of them along the trail. Though there weren't many, each one a lovely surprise—and so delicate they seemed oddly out of place.

Later, at home, Clint looked it up and discovered it is the Showy Penstemon (Penstemon spectabilis)—so very aptly named! When I recently came across my new canvases—the cabinet doors—I knew I needed to set aside a taller one to capture the image of this splendid specimen.

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