This week I visited a good friend at her wonderfully quiet country home in the Berkshire Mountains. Her home overlooks a heavily wooded valley surrounded by mountains, with almost no noise other than the music of birds and the rustling of wind through pines. Spring hasn’t made much of an appearance there yet, and the ground was covered with snow (they got 8″ on Monday!). Cheryl, like me, loves the outdoors and also loves quiet time hanging out with tea and dogs, either talking about life or just quietly enjoying the beauty of the mountain scenery outside her windows.
We hiked through the snowy woods with Cheryl’s three dogs, watching birds and looking at tracks in the snow (we saw some that we think are fisher tracks) and counting melted spots in the snow where deer had slept the night before. I kept walking with my neck craned to see if I could spot an owl in the pine trees, but alas, they stayed well-hidden. Afterwards I sat at her dining room table to sketch and paint the rainy view and draw some of the many birch trees. Although warm temperatures are ideal for being outside, and sunshine makes for brilliant colors and striking shadows, I also love the muted colors of misty days.
Cheryl and I both love food, so we cooked and ate a delicious dinner together (and I got some great new recipes to cook for Stephen). Being relaxed and full of good food after a busy few weeks, I was ready to go to bed early, and I slept to the music of the most beautiful-sounding wind chimes I’ve ever heard. The wind rose and fell during the night, with the lullaby of the chimes as a soothing background to my dreams.
In the morning we relaxed, read, and played with the dogs. Between rain showers, I stood on the deck to paint quickly in brief sessions, before the wind blew my palette away and froze my fingers. We’re just on the cusp of plein air painting season, and the weather seemed to vacillate between winter and spring every few minutes all morning.
When it was too windy, wet, and chilly to stand outside painting, I curled up on the couch wrapped in a soft blanket with a mug of tea in the cozy den overlooking the valley. One of the dogs, Tessa, a German Shepherd Dog, is getting a bit old and the stairs are a challenge, so she stayed downstairs with me when Cheryl went up to do some morning chores. Tessa watched and waited for Cheryl, her ears constantly tuned to every movement and sound from upstairs, a perfect example of the devotion of a good German Shepherd, and a perfect subject for sketching.
I’m home now, rested and refreshed by the enveloping peace of the mountains, by relaxing time with a good friend, and by the opportunity to sketch in a leisurely manner.