Saturday, February 1, 2014

Mr. Zoom

A rotting log-stringer bridge across the West Fork of Lolo Creek near Lolo Hot Springs, Montana, stopped my forward momentum.  Off the main highway, the sign said Road Use Restricted.  The condition of the bridge suggested -- disobey its admonitions and an errant driver might have the opportunity to test the aerodynamic attributes of their car.  I parked in the middle of the one lane road and set up my easel.  

                                                  The bridge across the West Fork of Lolo Creek

Taking a peanut butter and honey sandwich break from my painting, I sat on a decaying log delineating the side of the structure,.  There I relished a  handful of rays of sun that sneaked through the day’s offering of cloud formations.  It was then that I saw it -- a tiny black ant slowly searching in seemingly random directions for whatever tiny black ants search for in seemingly random directions.  Maybe it would lead me back to an ant hill for more action, but no, it stuck to it’s little sawdust covered arena, maybe twice the size of my computer screen in diameter.  Perhaps my friend had been assigned guard duty to keep strangers like me from invading it’s nearby home. 

OK, calling my friend “it “seems a bit impersonal so at this point I’ve decided to call "it" Mr. even though the vast majority of ants are sterile females.  I base my decision on the fact that male ants' contribution to colonies has been termed “not significant,” -- which from my untrained observers eye, seemed to be it's role in life.

Maybe my new “friend” would like a treat.  I broke off a honey-covered crumb and quietly placed it within the perimeter of the ant’s territory.  By what seemed like pure chance it’s aimless wandering eventually led to my offering.  Lunch!  Soon, with a full “belly,” the ant departed.  However, its speed changed from that of the proverbial tortoise to that of the hare.  Newly named Mr. Zoom raced around like a highly caffeinated ant -- still within the confines of its restricted territory, still just as aimlessly, but now with heightened passion.  I returned to my painting satisfied that I had done something to make at least one newly energized denizen of this world a little more joyful that day.

   Montana Wetland  9 x 12 inches  Alkyd on Raymar Panel   Mr. Zoom's view if he could get on top of the his bridge.

Mr. Zoom’s bridge had interrupted my travels as I headed east to overnight in Missoula, a large city in which I really didn’t want to stay.  Just beyond the bridge, a sign along the road advertising The Lodge at Lolo Hot Springs suggested reasonable rates.  I took the bait and wasn’t sorry.  After checking out with a belly full of waffles the next day, I headed back to the bridge, for more painting until, bidding a fond farewell to Mr. Zoom, I  resumed my travels towards Missoula.  Since I had backtracked to Mr. Zoom’s bridge, one “obstacle” remained -- passing, once again, that sign suggesting reasonable rates at Lolo Hot Springs. 

Lolo Hot Springs -- Life was soooo peaceful there.  The food at the restaurant sooooo good.  Missoula has traffic.  I don’t thrive on crowded roads.  OK -- one more night.  I checked in again and LuAnn, the manager did the unthinkable.  Unbeknownst to me,  the resort has a reduced rate for multiple night stays.  I had already checked out so LuAnn would naturally charge me the full rate for the second night.  But no, that sweet lady gave me the reduced rate for the return visit.  You can’t beat that level of integrity.  If you’re ever in the area, check out The Lodge at Lolo Hot Springs.   LuAnn will even lend you a swimming suit if you want to soak in the hot springs.

Another side road near Lolo Hot Springs that really tempted me to stop and paint.  Ultimately I opted, instead, to hone in on a nearby meadow,

West Fork   9 x 12 inches   Alkyd on Raymar Panel   I completed this painting from the shoulder of US 12 not far from Lolo Hot Springs.

                                                       Back-lit forest along the Idaho side of US 12

Meanwhile Karen and her cousin, Connie, had driven north to Wisconsin's Four Mile Lake for what may possibly be Karen's farewell to an area that has had such a profound influence on her life.  

                                      Karen and her brother, Peter Groth on Peter's Four Mile Lake dock.

Four Mile Lake Road has led Karen to the family "cottage" and now Peter and Mary Ann Groths' home since she was an elementary school-aged girl.

Of course Karen continued her love affair with rodents at Four mile Lake -- here the latest family member of generations of red squirrel friends she had known since the early 1950s.


1 comment:

Diane Eatherton-Watt said...

Beautiful colors, light, inspiration, love, thanks so much for sharing your adventures!
Love & Joy!