Calm as a farm pond at the top, Golden Creek's black water reflects rocks and snow, approaching the falls on either side of an old Ash tree. Slipping past rocks and beneath their thin collars of ice, the freezing water sculpts wax-like mini-falls in its lacy drop over the first step and then rushes, churning below my snowy perch on the second ledge, to its next fall, and then straight like a misty scarf into the plunge pool 5 metres below. A Hemlock leans from the vertical rock wall which turns the creek to the west, threading among snow-covered boulders out of sight among the trees.
Golden Creek originates about 10 km NNW of Brockville and flows southward for about 15 km through wetland habitats, over limestone bedrock, and for 1.5 km, after it falls here, through the Lyn Valley, before joining Lyn Creek. There are as yet no Zebra Mussels in either Lyn or Golden Creeks, and below the falls there's a rich mussel fauna, including the endangered Ligumia nasuta a slim, elegantly angled clam with a honey-brown outer skin (periostracum) and a pale purplish pearly interior. I painted the lower creek on 18 Sept 2011 as Fred "tossed the quadrat" for mussels. Neither stream has a rich mussel
fauna above their falls: we haven't found any mussels in Lyn Creek, and only the Common Floater, Pyganodon grandis above the falls here in Golden Creek. We imagine that perhaps no fish, at least no fish bearing the glochidia larvae of mussels, have surmounted these falls since they emptied into the salt water of the Champlain Sea, and try to imagine what that scene might have been like, some thousands of years ago.
Today began with pearly colours on new snow under a clear sky, but a heavy ceiling of dull grey clouds moved in for the afternoon and now I find myself divining colours from a scene that at first glance looks to be all in black and white. I paint faster when I'm being watched, and Fred stands by me, as the botanists in the party scramble down the steep slopes. We discussthe colour that the underpainting should be, and to soften the greyness of the scene, I mix a greyish lilac for the underpainting. This will support, rather than contrast with, the snow, and allow the subtler colours to speak. I sit on the second ledge on the east side, insulated by a closed-cell foam cushion and with my legs wrapped in a wooly blanket.
In the summer of 2008 I painted an old Apple tree just across the upper falls from where I sit today, and I look forward to exploring this wonderful spot again and again, farther down the falls and in all seasons.
Dear patrons and supporters,
This painting is for sale by auction to support our work on the 30 Years Later project, as we revisit places we studied over the past three decades. If you would like to purchase it, please send your bid to me Bidding is open for one week from posting date, ending on 6 January at 9:34 pm eastern daylight time. The starting price is $375.