It rained yesterday as we drove the last 60 km of Yellowhead Highway from Terrace to Prince Rupert, obscuring what is rated as one of the most scenic highways in the world. We had barely glimpsed a mountain or two, so I left early this morning intent on driving about 20 miles back to do a painting. Two miles is all I went though, as a wonderful morning sky filled with light and dark clouds and even some blue presented itself over the water. (We artists can be easily distracted, can’t we!)
I backed up a bit on the highway—there’s not much traffic at 6:15 am—and bumped my way down a gravel turnout next to the Hecate Strait. At the bottom of the hill I found a small parking lot where locals launch their boats, and quickly set up my easel to catch the play of sky, water and islands.
As I began my first sketch, I was flooded with emotions, realizing that I had painted in this same spot four years ago. I saw a tiny floating shed and outhouse across the bay, but other than that the view was the same as my earlier Boom Tug Headed Home.
When we returned home from our 2009 Alaskan journey, my mom asked if she could have one painting, and the one she chose was from here. A fast-growing brain tumor took her life a year later, and when she died, my dad gave that painting back to me.
So here I was, enjoying memories of Mom while painting this beautiful spot once again, when two eagles and four ravens swooped in, chirping noisily at each other and fishing—something my mom, who had an incredibly soft heart for animals and kids, would have loved to watch. I was reminded of the time when I was small that she got out a ladder to put some baby chicks back in the nest in a tree in our yard only to watch the mother bird push them back out.
Then a fisherman brought in his small boat and loaded it up on a trailer behind me. He walked over and asked, “You’ve been here before, haven’t you? I remember you were painting here three or so years ago.”
That’s right!”, I said. “You told me about the boom tugs, and how important they are for moving lumber.” After he complimented my half done painting, I asked about the floating shed. He told me it belongs to the lumber company and is called the tool shed. I thought it made a nice focal point in my painting.
I called Dave to tell him about this neat spot, and he brought Terry & Sue so we could all enjoy the receding tide, the birds, the cloud-filled sky, and a gorgeous morning together. I am a better painter today than I was four years ago, but regardless, this one’s also for you Mom.