The wild ribbon of ice cold water of the Cosumnes River races down from the Sierras. Centuries of its persistent action has cut a winding canyon through the granite slabs of the foothills. Digger pines clothe the canyon sides, their plume-like foliage trapping the afternoon light like the silken matrix of a spider's web.
I take the sandy trail south of the bridge, pushing through manzanita bushes and descend under the shelter of winter-stripped oaks to the bank of the river. A surging, hurtling force of white foam, the culmination of the previous week’s rain and snow, is declaring mastery over the parched land.
I set up my easel in front of three white alder trees along the river's edge. I want to capture the strong vertical forms of their trunks rising in counterpoint to the horizontal stress of the surging river. Yellow catkins hang from gray branches like plumbline pendants swaying in the afternoon sunlight. A startled belted kingfisher rakes over the surface of the river, its rattling call rising over the din of water over granite.
I continue to paint. A thin veil of cloud mutes the light emanating from the winter sun. The once illuminated branches, now a shadow of their former glory, weakly reflect the suns rays. Then as the sunlight slips completely from view, the canyon and all within yield to the shadows of the gloaming light—the departure of another day.