Friday, October 31, 2008

Menucha and the Gorge

I love fall - the colors of the season so bright they almost hurt your eyes. The crisp, cold mornings with a fairy dusting of frost across the lawn and the smell of wood smoke as folks fire up their fireplaces and wood stoves. I don't even mind raking leaves, as long as I get a chance to play in the leaf piles.

Once again, I returned to a weekend at Menucha - nestled in the forested hillside above the Columbia River, it is the perfect place to rest, recoup and make art. This retreat was special as we were allowed to bring guests and several talented artists joined us for the weekend. We stayed at Creevy complex this time which afforded us a much larger workplace, warmed by a fireplace and the company of good friends. The Gorge was spectaculary beautiful, decked in all it's fall glory - gold and orange and green against a sapphire blue sky made quiet walks on the grounds a breathtaking event. The weather cooperated, a miracle at this time of year here and we had clear skies without rain for the weekend. On the last day, a high wind came out of the east, bringing warmer weather and the music of trees as they swayed together in harmony; the leaves falling and gathering in every nook and cranny.

Cradled in the midst of the forest is a labyrinth built this year with a rock mosaic at its center. I was lucky enough to walk the labyrinth at one of the rare times I could do so alone. The walk is meant to be meditative and as you pace the maze, your mind calms and all things seem possible, if only for that short time.

At the edge of the property is a stunning view of the Gorge and the Crown Vista house - built during the Depression, it was just recently renovated and is worth a trip to see - as far you could see down the Gorge, the shores were lined with fall colors, contrasting sharply with the deep blue of the river. As I sat and enjoyed the Columbia vista, I was treated to the sight of a woodpecker flying across the sky directly in front of me and Stellar's Jays squabbling over the chestnuts that littered the ground. Deer grazed the grounds and squirrels seemed to be in every tree.

My 8 X 8 challenge was "Field Notes" for October, so before leaving, I stopped to sketch the vista, as well as a chestnut, pine cone and leaves, - memories I can take out and snuggle into during the grey, wet weather ahead.


Paula McNamee said...

Love your photos and Gorge field notes. You capture the beauty and feel of the landscape. Paula

Gwen said...

Thanks for these beautiful photos of the Gorge! I grew up in Portland, and the Gorge is one of my favorite places on earth! In any season, it is wonderful. I remember driving the scenic highway after Christmas one year, and the fog on the cliffs made it so mysterious and beautiful.

Your field notes piece is lovely, too!

Carole said...

Oh how I miss Menucha.....