Walk in First Snow Through the Woods

first snow woods photograph

Almost every day, I get to see scenes like this as I walk outside the studio. My camera is a real happy camper. Luckily, I captured this picture during the first snow of the season. There was a small accumulation of snow and the day was warm. Sometimes, it feels like I live in paradise with the nature right around me.

There are tracks from our neighbors who had just ridden their ATV’s through it. There are a lot of Bambi tracks and Gobble Gobble turkey tracks too! Max and I are not the only ones enjoying this area.

We all love the outside up here in Elk, WA.  Our neighborhood is the one that started the, “You might be a redneck if……” craze. Checkout Jeff Foxworthy, the comedian here.

My goal right now is to conquer a fear of painting snow and get good at painting winter scenes. I figure the more I paint, the easier it will get. Hmmmm. We’ll see.

walk first snow WC washHere is the first study I painted of this view, as a horizontal presentation. After finishing the study, I am able to see areas to improve. Standing back a way gives me a good view to ponder how I want to proceed with the larger painting.  I’m not so sure I will go with horizontal, I think I like the vertical better.

Walk First Snow
Watercolor study complete for horizontal layout.

I will try a vertical layout next.

Snow and fun landscapes

Snow and fun winter landscapes, is quite a normal sequence of terms for this skiier. We are a household of ski and snowboard bums that love that white stuff. We have fun! Winter is fun!

winter fencepost
Winter fencepost, done in Stan Miller’s workshop at Spokane Art Supply in Spokane Wa. 

A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate to be able to attend a weekend workshop with Stan Miller. He is a phenomenal master painter, who I have had the privilege of knowing over the years. A wonderful artist and person. The subject was winter water, skies and snow in watercolor. As always, having an opportunity to spend some time with a small group learning from a “master” really brings things up a notch in a painters world. Above, is an unfinished exercise from the workshop. Unfinished, but still quite an inspiration to me.

Snow is something I have always loved. Unfortunately, it is a subject that has simply baffled me whenever I try to paint it. Fortunately, Stan Miller is an amazing teacher and has been able to open up a whole new world for me with what he showed during that weekend workshop at Spokane Art Supply . With this fencepost painting, I was able to get “what I see” in a snow scene… down on the paper. Success, is such an inspiration.

A person who paints a 1,000 paintings stands a better chance of producing more great masterpieces…

It is about time, I record the fun and the gorgeous sights we see all winter long. This artist is on a mission!

Snow Chores

Propane Tank Before 1When snow falls in larger quantities, the chores around the home get a little unusual sometimes.Winter fun in Elk Washington. Keeping our driveway and road cleared is a given, because we don’t want to have to walk up this hill to get in and out. Keeps us on top of that chore.

That white stuff keeps piling up.

Uh huh! said the happy skiier!

Propane Tank Before 2This weekend while we were in balmy “teen temperatures”, I noticed that it would be real hard to get access to our propane tank. So, slipping on those sexy Sorel boots, with matching leather gloves hat and coat. I stepped out and grabbed the snow shovel off of the deck. My buddy, Max was right there with me, so we went out to clear the walkway to the propane tank.

Taking a couple of “before” pictures, I then got busy with a shovel while Max guarded the driveway. I’m not sure what he guards against, but he sits there at attention, gazing off into the trees.

Propane Tank After 2When I was done I took “after” pictures.

Propane Tank After 1Those walkway pavers were easy to put in last summer in the heat. It is a different story to find them under waist high snow drifts. Things got kind of tricky, as I thought, where the heck are they? Maybe, I should put a little reflector marking them. Another mental note-to-self.

Woo Hoo! now we can see the walkway to the propane tank and I am happy to report that my fingertips have finally warmed up!

Snowshoe Peaceful Walk

snowshoe02We have had some usage of our snowshoes here in Elk WA and I am loving it. Max and I went for a snowshoe break after lunch and found some really beautiful views. I can’t believe how he loves to jump and run in the snow. Endless energy to say the least.

Compare a couple of weeks ago to today.

snowshoe08walk 01232019

The snow was up to my knees and Max’s belly, so with each step there was deepness and spillover on the shoes making it was a real workout. Beautiful and sparkly white blanket over the ground feeling like I was walking in a quiet winter wonderland. There were deer tracks but no others to mess up the views. Except we can really see where we were, maybe I should apologize for marking up the beautiful white blanket with snowshoe tracks and dog playing leap tracks all over the place.

No, I don’t think so.

snowshoe01I usually sit here and rest but I could not mess up this perfect layer of snow on this old log across our track. The MapMyWalk app says I only went 1.13 miles in an hour and 20 minutes. But, my legs feel like I have been marching with the Nazi army soldiers for miles. You know what I mean, lifting my legs up high for each step. Either that, or I was doing lunges repeatedly… wow.

 

 

Winter With Family

Let it Snow

Winter with family in the snow can be so much fun! We were fortunate to have our cousin’s son, Sam and his lovely fiancee (Jess) over for the weekend on the start of their ski vacation trip. Yay! We are so jealous!

Always fun time with those two and their furry critter Hilti! Our dog Max and their Hilti are best friends, totally!

Here are both.

Holland Sam Jess

Now, the real personality comes out!

Holland Sam Jess 2

We spent Saturday up on the hill at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort, what a blast. Got a workout and great sunshine all day, who says winter has to be dark? 

Crooked TreeOn Sunday we were able to walk near our house to the “crooked tree”. What a destination huh? It is about a mile and a half walk for us, which is a good stretch of the over-skiied and boarded legs from the day before. Crunch, crunch, crunch. However, it must be about ten miles for the dogs running in circles around us as we go. BTW, it is amazing what nature will overcome?

Check out this old tree, wonder if it could talk what would it say? Pete proves that he is truly a tree hugger and a tree sitter while we are there.

Pete Tree Hugger

When we got back home we had breakfast with Rachel and her family to celebrate her birthday which was the day before. A great winter weekend.

 

Pickin’ Choke Cherry Berries

Choke Cherry’s

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Choke cherry picking is one of the funnest kinds of berry picking! They fall off in clumps into your bucket when you pick like you are milking a cow. Near my friends house in northern Spokane, Washington my friend noticed some loaded ripe chokecherry bushes during a walk through the trees with her little dog, Skippy. She gave me a call and we met the next afternoon to get some. Choke cherry jam is super “ono” luscious!

Berry Pickin’ Friends

choke cherry picking
Linda P. choke cherry pickin

I am so happy to have a berry pickin’ friend, Linda, sorry about the branch in front of her face. My friend is very special to me because she is a true berry picking cohort. Who can you call and say, Hey, the berries are on over here do you want to go pick? I know her response will be, Sure!, if it is at all possible. Then we either meet at the trail head or drive together to the location and pick to our hearts content.

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There is no babysitting required between the two of us. We both love the outdoors, and peace & quiet of harvesting these delicious little fruits, even though there is rarely much peace and quiet as we cruise together and talk about all kinds of stuff.  A good friend that loves gardening, cooking, flowers and berry picking is really a treasure to any pirate soul like me.

Want to Get to Know Someone?

Go pick some berries with ’em. I remember the first time Linda and I went up in the mountains to pick huckleberries together. Not knowing her very well,  I assumed that she may not know what is needed, and boy was I wrong! Bringing an extra bucket with the basics that most people forget about, lunch for two, water, bug spray, TP, sunblock I found that was not even necessary. She surprised me at how prepared she was showing up with jeans, comfy shoes, and long sleeve light shirt with lunch, water, TP, small bucket (with bungie cord belt to hold it close at the waist), along with a hat and jacket. I have learned so very much about picking berries from this expert already.

Larry and Pete in garden
Larry and Pete in garden

Here are our better halves discussing important world events in our the garden. Linda and I are so lucky to have found the best husbands who also enjoy each others company.

I count my blessings every time Linda and I go for berries together. We get to see some of the best views in the mountains as we walk and talk, and when we get home we can exchange recipes for the best jellies, jams, and syrups that ever existed on the planet. We get together to do dinner and play cards together as often as possible. Thank God for the gift of wonderful friends to share our lives with.

Mountain hike

ski resorts are great places in the summer too

Mount Spokane State Park (Quoted from their website):

In addition to alpine winter recreation, the Park offers year-round recreation including nordic skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, camping, horseback riding, biking and hiking trails, berry picking, sightseeing, and more.

You can get a map of the park

We drove up a gravel access road and parked, then went for a short and easy half day hike.

It is amazing to see the ski runs without snow on them. They seem a lot steeper in summer because you are actually walking up the hill not riding a lift, so the rate of ascent is more noticeable and sticks in the memory.

This hill has great views of the ski area and so much more. Gazing from the summit in summer can take your breath away.

There are many types of flora (including Huckleberries) and fauna birds, four legged critters and scurrying little guys, in lots of kinds of well-maintained trails. Inviting photographers to take mucho happy clicks home. The variety of trails, terrains and spots to see is quite extensive. Check out their website which gives 47 things to do in the park if you run out of ideas.

We discovered some historic structures while we were there including the Civilian Conservation Corps Cabin (CCC) which we posed beside, and it is not much further up the hill to see the Vista House both built in the 1930s. This park is another Inland Northwest “gem” for outdoor lovers.

Granite Falls, Nordman Idaho

We took an easy hike this weekend, our destination was “Granite Falls” just above Nordman, and Priest Lake ID. It was a bright sunny day but there was a noticeable chill in the air whenever you were in the shade. You can see there were still patches of snow… This was a total departure from blue screen hypnosis or chatter for us.

Nature in the Inland Northwest…. Ahhhhh! Going up just past Nordman ID and Priest Lake to a Cedar Forest Reserve is  Granite Falls trail. This is a short hike 1.5 miles on a well maintained trail with easy grade and many switchbacks through huge noble cedars reaching up high into the air. There are many places to experience the roar of water cascading over solid granite formation, where you are chilled by the moisture in the air. Wow! the power of moving water. Makes you see how small we are in the whole system of nature. This was a revealing adventure for our family to take together. It was as though our souls were able to surface and share more meaningful expressions of emotion and thought as we journeyed through the beauty. It was an inspired afternoon full of amazing natural wonder and an infusion of beauty.

Where we hangout…

Today speaking with a client, I was trying to explain my favorite place to feel closest to heaven.  It is almost as though God paints the scene different every single night. Some trees with tinly icicles on each needle, some delicately powdered with fluff on the top of each branch and then some totally encased in a frozen frosting. These thoughts led me to look at a folder of old shots up on the ski hill.

Probably my favorite thing is the way light shows through the trees almost as an invitation. Always a thrill and obviously a favorite of mine as I probably have 100+ shots similar to this in my reference photography. I have done paintings of this frequently…. this is one of my early oils.

Sun Thru Snowy Trees
That familiar sight as you ride a lift up the mountain anticipating a fun ride down.

The shadows are of my husband and I around 2001-02. This was an early morning right after a heavy snow that left the trees fully cloaked they looked like hunched over creatures in groups. I loved being on the ski patrol, getting up on the mountain for first tracks and watching the mountain transform from sleepy and dark to bright white. No better morning than that. On the hill the same location never looks the same.

Here is another early morning where I stood for 5-10 minutes in this spot taking shots so I could see how fast the colors changed.

Amazing isn’t it? Okay, so maybe I aspire to be a ski bum. My son gave me a sweat shirt with that on it. Yep.

Signed the Hawaiian  X-Ski Patroller