Tag Archives: Pheasant Creek Coulee

Friday morning in the coulee

Alas! I set out early Friday morning to paint in the coulee just after the first flush of green! It was not to be – painting that is. The handy dandy yellow bag (pictured below) that holds my water had sprung a leak after many years of such expeditions. I watered the hill instead. Then I wandered the hills. They were  alive with bloom and blossom, with new plants pushing up through dry earth. I ventured from to hill to hill, smartphone in hand, bending low to look at all the amazing growth. Some are pictured below.

the leaky yellow bag and a sketch of

the leaky yellow bag and a sketch of what I think might be Missouri Milk Vetch(unsure)

20160506_072836

Missouri Milk Vetch (maybe). What I love about this wee flower are the leaves, a silver sage that are beautiful just on their own.

20160506_072731

Narrow leafed milk vetch (above) maybe and cushion milk vetch I am pretty sure

A hillside of cushion milk vetch

A hillside of cushion milk vetch

20160506_081500

Ground Plum?? I know I have seen plums on the hills arter flowering… I will keep an eye open.

20160506_073040

Grandfather Rock

20160506_073101

A view from Grandfather Rock

20160506_090859

The Hawthorne (but I didn’t go in) . A tick haven at this time of year!!

20160506_085942

Silver weed just before blooming. Aren’t these leaves amazing???

Silver weed just blooming

Silver weed just blooming

20160506_085712

Bear berry, kinnickinick

20160506_084442

Wild strawberry

20160506_085740

This photo soothes me

20160506_083756

the eye of sister aspen

20160506_083241

pussy toes

20160506_082104

Moss phlox

20160506_082222

A guess: Low Townsendia just before opening?

20160506_082115

Another guess : Plains Cymopterus?

20160506_081540

Guessing again: Sand Bladderpod?

20160506_081211

By the creek close to raccoon tracks

20160506_084651

Hoary Puccoon about to burst

20160506_091600 20160506_083451 20160506_082818 20160506_082321 20160506_082032

20160506_091440

Creek

 

Image 6

“SongLines”, Paper collage and watercolour on watercolour paper, 10″ x 22″

During “Immersed in Nature: A Retreat at Valley View Farm“, a weekend hosted by my friend Debra and I in late August, we considered and explored line, shape and colour. The lines, shapes and colours  that called to us as we explored the natural world.

Much of my preparation for this weekend took place at Pheasant Creek Coulee, a few miles south of our farm. As I sit by the large stone I have come to know as “Grandfather Rock”, I am drawn by the shape of the creek, by the way that it winds and weaves. Again and again, I have drawn or painted or sketched  the creek as it sings and curls its way through the coulee and the hills in which it resides.

IMG_1740

"Pheasant Creek Coulee"

“Pheasant Creek Coulee”

 

 

I

 

 

 

 

 

 

During our retreat, I began to play with the shape of the creek, starting with watercolours and eventually adding metallic papers – candy and chocolate wrappers, cigarette foils, origami paper. And there my own simple exploration of line, shape and colour sat for several weeks. I kept thinking “song line”…. it seemed the curves and rhythms of the creek were both outside me and singing deep within my body.

Collage- shape, line

Collage- shape, line, colour

I knew that I wanted the feeling of hills around the creek but not necessarily something representational. I began to play with shapes and contours, with different shades of rusts, browns, coppers, gold…..I wanted to capture the feel of the place, the movement of the hills, the way that this place sings within me, how it feels like  treasure.

Image 6 Image 7Once finished, I took this piece to the place that inspired it to photograph it. Seeing it in the coulee, amidst the rust of the little bluestem grasses, the gold of the aspen leaves, the shadows of the hawthorn and birch seemed somehow right, plus felt incredibly goofy (in a good way) and was just a lot of fun.
IMG_2317IMG_2318IMG_2324IMG_2351IMG_2326IMG_2331IMG_2333Image 14Image 35Image 28Image 31Image 33

Poached Egg Woman Takes the Plunge!

"Poached Egg Woman Takes the Plunge",  watercolour and paper collage

“Poached Egg Woman Takes the Plunge”, watercolour and paper collage

Seems like the year a number of my friends have “taken the plunge” – moving across the country, choosing to follow their desire to live out their dreams, setting up a business in rural Saskatchewan,  and submitting a grant proposal to the Canada Council are among some of the ways they are taking the plunge. I am buoyed on by their courage and their example.

Seems like a year for me to take “the plunge”, too. Here are some plunges I have taken or am going to take:

  • I made my first move to sell art in a store. What I mean is – first time with me not selling my art directly! My rice paper panels and some fairies are hanging in one of my all time favourite Regina shops – the Paper Umbrella on 13th Avenue.
  • More and more, I am calling myself a full time artist. This is true at the moment… and it may be that I need to get some paid work to help myself along, but the feel of these words in my mouth – full-time artist – is delicious!!!!
  • I hope to take the plunge and offer a full weekend Paper Collage PLAYshop – no dates set yet. So far, I have offered day long PLAYshops, but want to offer more of an immersion experience, where people can lose themselves in the joy of coloured paper and fun!
  • I will be part of a team offering a weekend program at Calling Lakes Centre focussed on watersheds from May 9 to May 11th. This weekend is all about the Qu’Appelle River Watershed in Treaty 4 territory. I have been inspired to explore my own relationship with my beloved Pheasant Creek Coulee (which drains into the Qu’Appelle) from the point of view of home place and sacred spots and how our deep love for a home place can feed our activism for the health of the planet.
    "Poached Egg Woman takes the Plunge" in process

    “Poached Egg Woman takes the Plunge” in process

    To see Poached Egg Woman nesting, rooting, gliding, transforming, steeping and listening to the Choir of No, click the link!

     

Pheasant Creek Coulee-

IMG_2148

Watercolour from Grandfather Rock, Oct. 16, 2013

Feels something like last painting days at the coulee for this fall at least. My recent companions, the Swainson’s Hawks have moved on but the ravens and magpies remain. I am glad.  How wonderful to go and observe the subtle changes of this particular fall season! Glad to have my thermos of ginger tea, brief flashes of warm sunlight because it is a chill wind.

unfinised watercolour from the end of September. Such changes!

unfinised watercolour from the end of September. Such changes!

Truly Home

How do you know when you are well and truly home? Three vignettes from my life in Treaty Four Territory, under the prairie sky.

I.

I am well  and truly home!

Our two farm dogs, Lady (mum) and Herc (son) fell into their own routines when I abandoned them and went to Ontario. That routine involves hunting muskrat in the dugouts, clearly an absorbing task for a pair of canines. I would head off on my morning walk, call the dogs and to my great dismay, nobody came. When I was a few kilometres down the road and on my way back, I would see two distant black dots racing down the road towards me, wearing signs of dugout activity when they arrived. Wet, with flecks of lime green duckweed on their coats!

Now, some weeks and many morning walks later, the dogs have caught on and have let the dugout go in favour of a morning walk.(Muskrat relief, to be sure!) They can barely contain their joy when I come out the door. All the way down the lane, they do doggie backflips, fall over each other, contort their bodies and tails in movements of joy and excitement and anticipation. Lady even smiles, a kind of ugly but sweet grimace. They trip over each other. Sometimes I can barely move down the lane. I occasionally remember kicking one of these dogs predecessors once because I was so frustrated that I could not move. (Shame!) The walk down the lane is a good a barometer of how crusty (or not) I might be feeling in the morning.

Two things: I am grateful that we have a short lane. The dog’s antics fill my heart with joy and are the best beginning to a morning walk.IMG_1681 IMG_1686 IMG_1698

I am now able to walk across the south field because it has been combined. Field walking is even more pleasurable than walking down the road. I like the unexpected dips and swells, the curves and surprises of walking across the fields. I like the wild untouched areas – a grove of willows here, a wetland there, an unexpected rise over here. The dogs follow their noses, read each other’s body language, their tails erect and a certain tension in their body when they pick up a scent. They bound ahead, disappearing at times, surprising me later by coming up from behind. Their movement is like a dance, is like the swoop of the grass birds as they fly hither, is like the curve of the land itself, under this vast bowl of sky.

II.

watercolour - Pheasant Creek Coulee

watercolour – Pheasant Creek Coulee

Last week, I was able to visit Pheasant Creek Coulee almost every day, sometimes with my paints, sometimes not. Colours are just beginning to change. The pinks of the bluestem grass on the hills is astonishing. This morning when I arrived, there were four Swainson’s hawks flying just over the hill where I often sit. I stopped and sat and watched them, listened to their sharp cries, wondered if they were a family or just a group of hawks who liked to hang out. The cry of a hawk is like the pungent scent of sage – no matter how many times you have heard it or smelled it, it catches you unawares, urges you to wake up, pay attention!

IMG_1739 IMG_1732

I come to Grandfather Rock, a place where  I have painted often. In a certain way, trying to paint in this place is a way to come to know it better, to see all the shades alive in the pink of the bluestem, to wrestle with all of the troublesome yet beautiful greens. After some attempts to catch the feel and colour of the day, I return to what it is that I love most about this place – how to paint  the shape and curve of the land – the skeleton, the bones  beneath these hills.

IMG_1740

III.

Treaty Four Powwow, under the arbour. Flashing colours of dancers everywhere. Sound of drums beating here and there. A beautiful fall day nestled by Mission Lake in the folds of the hills of the Qu’Appelle Valley. Garbage floating off in the wind, or trampled underground. The smell of sweetgrass, of home fries, of deep frying. Powwow announcers trying to get people to come for the Grand Entry.

jingle skirts, Treaty Four Powwow. Photo courtesy of Kate Herberger,http://movingforwardlookingforthejoy.blogspot.ca

jingle skirts, Treaty Four Powwow. Photo courtesy of Kate Hersberger, http://movingforwardlookingforthejoy.blogspot.ca

I have just been to see our daughters, Jessie and Marina, and their horses Missy and Gatty. They have camped out here all weekend with other riders who made the trip here on horseback to honour the late Chief Irvin StarBlanket. Marina tells me that they have been asked to take part in the Horse Ceremony which will occur before the Special (Dance Competition) in honour of Chief Irvin. She is nervous. Gatty will do fine, she tells me. She is worried about riding in front of such a big crowd.

I am sitting directly across from where the riders will enter the powwow arena. Elder Mike Pinay, the announcer, shares something about the Horse Ceremony, and then says that two girls from outside the community have been asked to take part in this ceremony, to ride for the mothers and for the grandmothers. He goes on to say that it is unusual to ask outsiders to take part but that these girls are great friends of the community, and know some of  the ways of the community. It is a great honour for them to take part in this ceremony.

Mike then asks the StarBlanket Juniors drum group to begin their song and all of us stand. I stand tall, full of prayer, or pride, of love for these two daughters and the great honour they have of taking part in this. Marina nods in my direction as she rides by.The five horses circle the arbour four times, going slowly the first time around, then trotting, then loping. Drums beat, hooves beat, hearts beat…. I think of their grandmothers and great grandmothers….They look beautiful. Our daughters sit tall in the saddle.

When they are finished, I see them heading off towards the hills to let the horses have a good run, to let the horses loose. I have been proud of these girls many times before, but never like this.

These are not photos of the horse ceremony, but of the last part of the Memorial Ride.

These are not photos of the horse ceremony, but of the last part of the Memorial Ride.

some of the many riders and horses at Treaty Four

some of the many riders and horses at Treaty Four