21 March finds me an hour after sunrise on the shore of White Lake, near Renfrew, Ontario. Mist lies over the frozen part of the lake, sometimes receding to reveal the darkness and detail of the trees on the little point - overhanging Cedar, Pine, and Spruce - and sometimes moving in to white them out entirely. Vehicle tracks crisscross the ice, melting it in interesting patterns. Two pairs of Common Mergansers swish down for a landing on the open water, and afterswimming in a line and looking at me from a distance, they leave in a throbbing rush across the surface. Canada Geese land farther out, standing around on the ice and calling to another family who had landed in open water nearby.
The stubble along the shore gleams gold in the morning sun, and I decide to underpaint a pale indian red. A morning serenade is going on all around me as I stand at my easel, a cacaphony of blackbirds, but I'm too concentrated on getting the right colours and manipulating my brushes into the right strokes to pay attention to what kind of blackbirds.
Fred pulls on his waders to search the grassy shore and sandy bottom for snails and mussels, finding mostly Viviparus and Elliptio shells, as well as one live Pyganodon clam. The water is crystal clear and 5C near the shore. Fred says that the air over the distant ice is wavering with temperature difference, and I look to the west across the lake ice and see twisting ribbons of light streaming across the surface.
I started painting at 8:00 and I'm finishing up at noon, taking off my down jacket and my boots and long underwear to pack up and wash my brushes. It's shaping up to be another unseasonably hot early spring day and we must be off to hear where the Chorus Frogs are calling.