“Welcome to your friendly, Pollock Pines Safeway.” The happy voice on the loudspeaker attempts to dispel the store’s corporate nature and lure me into the false belief that it has grown up along with the pine forest that surrounds it. With no art stores nearby, I am here to buy walnut oil. This is my preferred oil painting medium, which I will use during my afternoon painting excursion.
The cheerful blond cashier, her name inscribed on her badge, “Valkyrie”, checks out my groceries. Perhaps for some misdemeanor she has been expelled from the otherworld, forever destined to scan groceries for the unsuspecting residents of Pollock Pines.
With my groceries retrieved from the Norse goddess, I head up the Iron Mountain road. The view is obscured on either side by a thick wall of pine trees. Occasionally I glimpse the distant mountains to the north through brakes in the branches.
Fifteen miles on, after a continual ascent, I see a clearing in the trees. The view opens up to an expanse of pine forest and in the distance, some 30 miles away the Crystal mountain range, punctuated by snow-covered peaks and ridges. I set up my easel in the clearing. I am working on a larger than normal canvas so need two painting parasols to shield the canvas from the glare of the sun’s reflected light. The metallic silver of the parasols give the appearance of a satellite, ready for some intergalactic art exploration.
I lay down a wash of transparent earth yellow and then draw in the framework of the composition and block in the tonal values with the same color. Using a rag, I wipe away areas I am not happy with and then repaint them until I have a strong composition. Tomorrow I plan to return to add the color.
Behind me as the afternoon light diminishes and evening descends, I hear an intermittent loud booming sound. What creature of the wilderness, can this be? Do I need to make a rapid retreat to safety from an incensed bull elk or other large mammal?
I look behind me, to see a sickle-shape wing silhouette slice through the evening sky like a boomerang. It’s a nighthawk. The sound is created by the male as he goes into a courtship display dive. Much like the breath vibrating a reed in a wind instrument, the air traveling through his primaries creates this loud booming sound.
Could this mysterious avian creature, cutting through the dusk like a scythe, be I wonder . . . the flight of the Valkyrie?