Friday, May 17, 2013

Memories of Days on an Alaska Volcanic Island

I am currently showing a painting of Karen at Petersburg’s Little Norway Festival.  "Maternal Instinct" is based on a photo I took on Augustine Island, about 75 miles southwest of Homer, Alaska, over 30 decades ago.  Why not use the most exciting (to me) highlight of that trip -- our climb to the volcano’s summit -- to go along with the painting in today’s blog post?   The climb was exciting, the painting more gentle as is my beloved Karen who is often governed by her maternal instinct.

Before publishing the story and painting I asked Karen for her recollections of the climb.  Her response, “I kept a diary of the trip.”

There, to my pleasure I found Karen’s poetic farewell to Augustine -- written on the float plane, a de Havilland Beaver as the first person we had seen in 10 days piloted us back to civilization.  Her writing deserves to go with this post.

“As I sit here in Beaver flying over ocean toward Homer, away from Augustine I’m mentally saying good bye -- good bye to so many wonderful experiences.  It’s a lot like leaving a good friend behind, except I won’t get an answer if I write to Augustine.”

So -- it’s fare thee well pumice stones that float, pumice stones that don’t.

Perky eared fox who gave us so much fun and beauty.

Gentle eaglet with fluttering sleepy eyes, downy soft and vulnerable --You were so trusting -- and unknowing -- too young to even use your beak to your advantage -- too new to know your claws could hurt.  Just too DEAR for me as I think of how you’ll molt your fluff and grow feathers -- soar above the green-blue lagoons so free and un-bothered.  You sat so patiently and awkwardly  -- sprawled on your nest of sticks, grass, squid -- high where irises wave in the wind and moss hugs stone. 

And good bye to whimsical sea otters -- who delighted in what seemed to me, endless play and fun -- somersaulting head over tail in the water, over and over again -- rolling like a log -- and clapping your webbed hands together -- peering out at your moving world of salty sea, between your toes-- whiskers twitching, head held a little higher -- and then-SPLASH -- head first diving, your wet back undulating like the waves now and again -- with your tail seemingly separated because of a band of green-blue seas between your back and tail -- your black-float sleeping position made me envious -- and how like a sleeping child you looked when you’d rub your eyes with both paws -- and then look up curiously at the approaching kayak. 

So long dedicated semi-palmated plover.  Your wish to deceive us with many different acts of wing problems was commendable. What a fine mother you are!

Seals -- I didn’t get to know you very well but your sleek silvery bodies stretched out on the rocks were constantly catching my eye.  and how you’d startle us with your close following of the kayak -- SPLASH right behind by the rudder!

Good bye to mornings of rainy soft wetness -- Augustine peeping from between pillows of grayness -- mornings of bright sunlight -- Augustine clear with smoke drifting upward -- no wind -- snow fields where the life of my Levi's in seat area is now questionable.  Granny smith seeds somewhere buried in ash near the summit, stretches of beach where stones sparkle, barnacles hurt, and tide wetting my feet.

Good RIDDANCE to no-see-ums, mosquitoes, deer fly, gnats, white-sox. 

Good luck gentle bumbling mosquito hawk -- may you grow in grace.”

                        Maternal Instinct    18 x 24 inches    Alkyd on Canvas

Karen didn't mention the sparrow chick we discovered in her farewell to Augustine entry, but it, too, was part of our wilderness experience.  One caveat, though:  Feeling the foreground needed more variety, I imported the rocks in this painting from Nome, Alaska.  It's called "artistic license."


Di said...

Excellent work. Detailed and with a unique texture, hope you're both doing great!

Susan Christensen said...

Wonderful memories
both in words
and in paint.
Thanks for sharing!

Don and Karen Cornelius Artwork said...

Thanks Sus and Di

Sanghamitra Bhattacherjee(Mukherjee) said...

Great words and beautiful paint.
Great inspiration here.
Thanks for sharing.
Hope to see you on my blog:)

Greetings from Singapore...

Don and Karen Cornelius Artwork said...

Thanks Sanghamitra. Your blog shows you are a talented artist with your camera.

Fernando Santos (Chana) said...

Excelente Tela....

Mike said...

fantastic hair!

Don and Karen Cornelius Artwork said...

Thanks, Fernando and Mike