September 20, 2006

Walking through oil paint

Faced with a houseful of dirty dishes, a pile of wet logs that needed to be stacked, a miserable sort of headache, and a desk covered with folders of important stuff that had to be done immediately, I decided yesterday to do the only logical thing: I put down the to-do list and went with a close friend for a walk at Pretty Colour Lakes. These glacial lakes, part of a state park just a few miles from my house, were formed more than ten thousand years ago, two deep plunge pools carved into the limestone bedrock by waterfalls rushing from a melting glacier.

No matter how miserable my mood, I always feel better as soon as my sneakers touch the mulch trails of Pretty Colour Lake. The autumn smell of yellow leaves mixed with the scent of the cedar trees as Quilt Artist and I started around the lake. Some of the white cedar trees that edge the lake are more than a century old. They were here when my Dad came to the lake as a child. High in the hills just above the lake are remnants of old growth forest.

I've walked the trails at this lake hundreds, no, thousands of times. My earliest memories include family picnics with my parents and Picnic Family, the six of us children collecting bright red leaves and scrambling up the steep hills around the lake. I came to the lake as a teenager to swim, or to camp with Outdoor Girl and her family, or to take quiet walks with a boyfriend. When my own children were small, I usually nursed a baby in a sling as we walked. I come to the lake often in the evening with my husband, when we can sneak an hour or two to ourselves. I bring my out-of-town friends to this lake: I walked this trail with Artist Friend a few years ago, as a way to weave the landscape of cedar trees and green water into our friendship.

Pretty Colour Lakes are meromictic: unlike most lakes in the world, they don't turn over in the spring or fall. The water at the bottom never rises to the surface. I've heard all kinds of local legends about the lakes, including the idea that they are connected to other lakes by underground caves. These small lakes are so deep that they were once believed to be bottomless, although scientists now say that the depth is closer to 195 feet instead of infinity.

But the thing that everyone notices -- and no matter how many times each week I come to the lake, the beauty of it still shocks me -- is the colour of the lakes. Because the lakes are so deep and clear, with little suspended organic matter, and because calcium carbonate seeps from the limestone bedrock, the water is often a spectacular green blue colour that is hard to describe and almost impossible to photograph.

Later in October, the still lake will reflect gorgeous red and orange fall foliage. But yesterday, we saw just the beginnings of the fall changes: gold leaves drifting along the edge of the lake, a few yellow leaves on branches of green. Quilt Artist and I kept stopping to admire the way the branches that overhang the lake were reflected in the water. When a light wind rippled across the surface, the blur of vivid colours looked like a Monet painting.

We had just enough time to walk around both lakes. We talked about friendships and children and a fall weekend we have planned with some of our friends. And then we went back to our homes, refreshed by the conversation, the fresh air, and the colours of the lake.

GreenLake

Here's my attempt to take a photograph that looks like a painting.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice place!

Artist Friend

Linda (FM) said...

The post is lovely, the picture beautiful (and it DOES look like an impessionist painting!). I love the idea of weaving the landscape into your friendship.

Sara said...

I really enjoyed this post, jo(e). Thanks for sharing your rejuvenation with us. I also take great comfort in walking, especially by water. Lake loops are the best, you come full circle. Very satisfying.

I haven't been around Pretty Colour Lake all summer. I will make it a priority in the next few weeks.

KathyR said...

It's lovely. I hope the Dishes Fairy came and cleaned up for you while you walked.

Yankee, Transferred said...

A successful attempt it is! Just beautiful. I do miss the fall in the northeast.

Loren said...

Very nice photo.

There’s something about natural beauty that makes photography easier, isn’t there.

That’s why almost all the photos on my blog are of nature.

RageyOne said...

Very nice photo! It does look like a painting.

liz said...

Beautiful picture.

Silver Creek Mom said...

OH but it does look like a painting. Very good job. I love to walk and started it up again. Fall is the best time to walk. No bugs not hot and the air is so refreshing.

I would love to view this lake in person.

hugs

Chip said...

My first swimming lessons -- very early in the morning -- were at Pretty Colour Lake. And I'll never forget the cub scout picnics and other picnics, scrambling up and down the steep hills between the path and the picnic area. And the hike around the lakes, including back to the Back Lake that was smaller but seemed at the time very remote and mysterious. And then, introducing my wife to the joys of an upstate winter by bringing her cross country skiing on an icy day at Pretty Colour Lake trails, loving the frozen lakes covered with snow...

We took those Lakes so much for granted. Thanks for reminding me of their beauty.

jo(e) said...

Silver Creek Mom: Come visit, and I will take you there.

Chip: Back Lake still has that remote and mysterious feeling. Even on day when the parking lot is filled, few people go all the way back to the other little lake. I love to just sit there by myself and enjoy the quietness.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Lovely.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful photo! I'm so jealous.

listmaker said...

That's a beautiful photo. I've often wanted to stop there when I'm in Snowstorm City, but never have. After seeing that picture, I need to make it a priority.

Laura said...

I love that photograph Jo(e) - it's going onto my desktop.

Repressed Librarian said...

Just gorgeous!

What Now? said...

Ooh, that photograph *does* look like a painting! How wonderful, and thanks for sharing it with us.

Pink Shoes said...

What an amazing photo -- Thank you for sharing it!

Mona Buonanotte said...

Such a feeling of deja vu staring at that photo...you captured one of my youthful memories somehow....

zelda1 said...

What a pretty picture and just as I imagined it as I read your post. Our leaves are just starting to turn. This is a good time for me. The crips air feels so right on my skin and the colors make me happy and I rejoice that summer is finally over.

Kathryn said...

Not sure if your writing or your photography gave me more pleasure this time..both beautiful. After that amazing lake about which you posted during your summer trip I tend to think of you when visiting any lake anywhere...this will surely double my tendency!

Cats & Dogma said...

Ah, so this is the spot you were telling me about this summer...Next time we come through, we'll definitely try to make a stop there...it's gorgeous!

comebacknikki said...

So gorgeous!!

Questing Parson said...

How blest are you to be in a place where not only the trees but also you are rooted.

Scrivener said...

What an absolutely fantastic photo! On first glance I really did think it was a photograph of an oil painting.

YourFireAnt said...

You've gone back over to poetry with this one, Jo(e). Lovely photo too.

FA

angelfeet said...

That is a fabulous photo - you've definitely captured an impressionist feel.

purple_kangaroo said...

Beautiful. I really like that photo.

Sara said...

I made it out to Pretty Colour Lakes this afternoon and walked around the both. Spectacular.

Of course I thought of you.