It’s August and we are in the proverbial dog days of summer. For me, summer means two things: lakes and loons.
I have never been able to decide whether the call of the loon is mournful or simply serene, but undoubtedly it has a haunting beauty. In my mind, it is the sound of a summer evening.
Although I always associate the call of the loon with the evening, one of the most memorable experiences I had with a loon was very early one morning—and that experience was the inspiration for a pair of paintings.
It was early September, and I was preparing to paddle Hailstorm Creek in Algonquin Park, my heart filled with the hope of seeing moose. To be honest, hope is too soft of a word. Conviction is better: I was certain that if I went early enough in the morning, I would see one—or maybe twenty-seven. I imagined herds of them, grazing on the greens, posed perfectly for photos and sketches. So, full of optimism, I bundled up in layers and set off. It was just before dawn, and a chilly -5 degrees when we set out in our kayaks. It was the kind of fall morning that starts out with a coating of frost and then feels like a hot summer day by 10am; in other words, it was perfect. The water was warmer than the air, and a misty steam was rising from the surface of Lake Opeongo. The only sound was the ripple caused by our paddles, and then suddenly, there it was: the long call of the loon, close by . . . and getting closer. For a moment, I couldn’t locate the loon and then I realized it was coming in for a landing, and I was directly on the flight path. The loon sailed right over my head—not even an arm’s length above me—and touched down behind my kayak. It’s a perspective that you don’t often get, seeing the underside of a loon coming at you, and it was magical.
I put down my paddle and just watched the loon for a while. These paintings are the result of that memorable morning.
5 fun facts about loons:
And if you can’t get to a peaceful lake or river to hear the sound of the loon, you can close your eyes and pretend while you listen to their calls on this website:
A brush with life
I love the smell of art supplies in the morning! This space is to share info about the materials and techniques that I am trying, as well as some pictures of my work in progress.
Copyright Jennifer Foster