Monday, July 21, 2008
I haven't had much luck lately getting out to paint. Yesterday morning was overcast so I decided to paint in the afternoon, but instead spent it in the ER where my husband was getting stitches for a bicycle sprocket gashing and subsequent fall, not a good day for him. This morning it was both very smokey and very overcast and it doesn't seem to be clearing. I ventured out to scout on the prairie a little bit anyway and have a vague idea where I might try next, near the Imnaha River Canyon which runs near the Snake River Hells Canyon. It is a bit of a drive, an hour of washboard gravel roads, which is why I haven't painted out that way yet. This morning I came unnervingly close to hitting a coyote with my car, it somehow miraculously was unscathed. I stopped in a few places to take some photos and in one spot a large prairie dog ran up to within a couple feet of me to check me out. He seemed totally unafraid of me, like a squirrel in a park, but out here he couldn't be looking for a treat. It is possible he had never seen a human before up close. There is a rare home out on the prairie (ok in 40 miles this morning I saw one), but a person needs to be willing to live completely off the grid. Apparently in eastern Oregon the population was larger 100 years ago than it is today. There are a large number of abandoned old homesteads sprinkled around; it must have been a pretty hard-scrabble existence especially in the long winters. It might be why the Roosevelt Elk are so revered in this area; the bull elk hunting season seems to be the highlight of the year; a large bull would feed a family all winter. This was Nez Perce country, but the Shawnee name for elk, wapati, seems to be in heavy use locally. Hunters come from all over the US (and even the world) for elk season; it is definitely something to think about when hiking around here in the fall, you are probably the only person in the woods without a rifle or bow. The weather forecast for the next few days is not good, I might try something moody or I may get skunked.