Summer is not conducive for spending time indoors. Each summer, I tell myself, this time will be different, it will be the summer of boundless productivity, but… it never seems to happen. There are just too many (inviting) distractions.
Summer taunts you as you sit at your easel, glancing out of the window at the cool breeze, the robins and the sunshine that makes twirling leaves sparkle like confetti. Which leads to the present moment: being surrounded by a bunch of half-finished paintings.
I suppose I could also do some plein-air painting (which I have done in the past), but, unfortunately, most of these paintings end up in the paint-over pile, and are usually dotted with the remains of random insects…which isn’t exactly desirable.
So the compromise I’ve made with myself is to use these bright, sunny days to take reference photos for future paintings; photographs that will become useful during those dark winter months when I’ve forgotten what a field of wildflowers look like, or just need some inspiration that doesn’t include feet of white fluff.
I took a day trip yesterday to visit the Eel Ground First Nation Powwow. It was (ashamedly) my first time there – and my only regret is not having gone sooner.
It was quite a stunning event, from the music to the clothing to the general atmosphere (which was a mixture of welcoming, celebration and respect).
I stayed for the Grand Entry, in which members of the Aboriginal community marched in, followed by a prayer and lots of dancing in bright regalia. Apparently several dancers and drummers were from different First Nations communities, many outside of New Brunswick.
There were also quite a few vendors there, set up in a large circle surrounding the dance arena. They were selling everything from jewelry to rolls of deer hide to musical instruments. It was also the first time I had seen a triangle-shaped hand drum. Not sure how it may affect the sound, but it definitely was eye-catching.
The only downside was the weather – the Grand Entry began at 1pm, which meant the sun was rather scorching, with beads of sweat rolling down all sides. I can only imagine how hot it must have been for the dancers! Though I came to terms with the heat by choosing to see it as a free outdoor sauna. Mind over matter…it works sometimes.
Overall, it was a really great experience, and I will definitely be back next year…maybe even for the sunrise ceremony (if I ever find the willpower to rise at 4:30am).
Note: For those who have never been to a powwow, they do announce during which songs you are allowed to take photographs, so just make sure to pay attention to the MC.
A few days ago (before this heat wave), I went on a photowalk along the shores of Oak Point, where the Miramichi River spills into the Atlantic. The area is spotted with summer cottages lining a very windy road – a pretty sight. It’s always interesting discovering new areas in the city in which you live (especially when you’ve been there for several years) – and makes you wonder why you never made that effort before. We’re often so eager to explore new cities, without even fully exploring the one you’re in. Though full disclosure: as I write this, it is PLUS 40ºC with humidex…and, well, miserable. Considering more than half the year is spent in a state of mild to severe winter, most houses here don’t have air conditioning (including mine) – which makes you regret ever hating the endless snowstorms. My body despises hot weather: anything above 30ºC, and it starts trying to make my life miserable, with swollen limbs, zero energy and constantly feeling like I can’t breathe. I’ve resorted to lounging near the basement floor, just so I can get the heat fog off my brain enough to write this. I’m sure if your body is acclimatized to it, it wouldn’t be so bad…but Canadian weather is notoriously fickle: 20ºC the whole summer, then seemingly overnight, it doubles. It really makes me want to move to Nunavut, where summer consists of 10ºC. At least I’d be able to breathe! I realize I may have just turned into one of those balding men sipping coffee at Tim Hortons with fellow retirees, always complaining about the weather. Nothing will change by complaining, but it does, ever so slightly, lift your spirits. So here’s to cooler days – days that won’t require fluorescent basement lighting (I’m a little scared to see what my current painting looks like under natural light).