Saturday, January 5, 2019

Missionary Ridge

Missionary Ridge
17” X 9”
Acrylic on a reclaimed cabinet door

There’s two feet of snow on the ground and more on the way (yay), but I was lost in this memory of our summer monsoon season as I painted this piece. 

We packed up a lunch and our fishing gear and headed out to explore Missionary Ridge, north of Durango. We were heading out to Henderson Lake, to try our luck fishing. It was another sweltering day, but as the road climbed, the air cooled, and we rolled down the windows and let it wash over us in joy.

It was early in the monsoon season, and we’d yet to get a decent rain, so as we watched the clouds billowing and building to the north (right where we were going!), we cheered them on, hoping for a downpour.

Clumped patches of wildflowers in brilliant pinks and purples spattered the grassy hills. Dense stands of deep green spruce alternated with swaths of tree skeletons left behind by the catastrophic fire that swept the ridge in 2002, burning more than 70,000 acres.

By the time we reached the lake, thunder rumbled steadily. The sky to the west was purple with swollen, angry clouds. “Come on, rain!” we said, breaking out our chairs and lunch in defiance. There’s no better way to guarantee rain than showing the weather gods you aren’t taking shelter when they growl at you.

The lake was serene and fringed with lush emerald vegetation, a happy sight, and much needed reprieve from the dry, pale tufts of last year’s grass and parched trees we had at home, just a few miles away. It had been a dry winter and our spring grasses barely made a showing before the heat came on hard and without mercy. 

Despite our taunts, the rain stayed to the west. We tossed a few lines into the mirror of a lake, but the fish took no interest in our offerings. We dawdled for a while longer and enjoyed watching the late afternoon light on the land as the clouds moved on, gifting us with a few spatters as we traveled back down the hill towards home.