It’s repetitious to keep saying snowfalls are magical, but there aren’t enough good synonyms. This past week I took a hike around Purgatory Chasm State Park along the Charley Loop. Snow was still clinging to the trees from a heavy snowfall, but now the sun was out and the sparkles of snow dust in the air were spectacular. Everything looked so clean and bright, I fairly danced my way into the woods (p.s. thank you to the person who compacted the snow trail!). I expect there will be more paintings from this hike, and another storm is on the way. It’s a good winter so far. Details below. Enjoy.
There are beautiful mornings and there are glorious mornings – I put this morning in the glorious column. The chasm is almost impossible to navigate in the dead of winter, but with a little imagination and a good zoom lens there is plenty to inspire. I walked the road and tromped into some of the paths. This view across a narrow part of the chasm plays with the opposites of light and shade in a high key. I am especially pleased with the lower right, where the use of semi-transparent paint and a roller worked well to describe deep snow and its luminous light. Details below. Enjoy.
The third painting in my series Last Days of Summer – or places you want visit one more time. This is a view along the lower trail at Purgatory Chasm, a local state park situated on a geological fault line in Central Massachusetts. One trail forms a loop around the top, with views down into the chasm. Or, you can take the trail that descends into the chasm – not particularly accessible once ice and snow season begins. Enjoy.
Side trips to Purgatory Chasm are a prerequisite for many summer days – the rock walls are just so wonderful to paint. This view, from across the chasm, shows the beginnings of fall color. What’s not to love?
The Tao, the way – I think of these words as I climb. The view from the top is not the goal. The experience of walking the trail, listening to every sound around me, smelling the damp of shadowed stone – this is the purpose of the walk. I am another creature in this world.
At least I hope I am still on my way up. Hiking, like life, can be full unexpected moments – sometimes good, sometimes dreadful. But oh, the way is still where I want to be.
The tumble and erosion along this geologic fault exposes so many mysteries. I walked here once with a geologist, and the complications from ancient mountain building, compression, folding, and slipping, followed by ice age scraping, and rebound, leave traces and layering that are a marvel to see and paint. All manner of sparkles and exposed quartz in some areas. Nearby, a sheet of fine gray granite. Don’t even ask about the various lichens and mosses that pile up during damp weather. It is all fabulous. I start to look up what I’m seeing, then get side-tracked by the beauty and return to just plain painting. Oh joy!
New England’s ancient mountains and old fault lines yield wonderfully complex geology – and great places to learn some rock climbing. As kids, we scrambled around, embracing the rough stone and glorying in the feeling of strength and power that came with conquering each new outcrop. This spot was a favorite for beginners. Such unadulterated pleasure!