27 October 2013

Barn Bluff, and thoughts of HD Thoreau

 So much is happening right now with late season sojourns! Yesterday, I spent the day on Barn Bluff at Red Wing, MN.  It's an impressive bluff along the Mississippi River; the town of Red Wing comes to an abrupt halt at its base. A hike up is rewarded by great views and paths through a magnificent prairie. This time of year the plants are dry and brown, but a careful look reveals lovely patches of bronze, pink, red and gold.  It's a steep bluff, with sheer drop-offs and some of the biggest bur oaks I have seen anywhere.  The winds were blowing about 25mph, and I found keeping my tripod and paintbox upright a challenge. It was an invigorating experience, with bald eagles flying, the prairie grasses rustling in the wind, and the distant hills changing colors with the blowing clouds!

My introduction to the bluff came via Nancy Berlin, a botanist who lives in Red Wing.  We first met for coffee to discuss Henry David Thoreau's journey  west in 1861, when he traveled to MN in hopes of improving his health. He hiked the bluff, recording species he found there. Nancy handed me his species list, discovered in his unpublished journals, an almost unbelievable opportunity to see a glimpse into one of my favorite writers. He was a good botanist, carrying a plant press and botanical guides everywhere he traveled. Thoreau inspires my painting in many ways, but I'll save that story for another day. 

1 comment:

  1. This is your most astonishing painting yet! The old Barbizon school painters have nothing on you!


Thanks for your interest in the Mississippi River blufflands and my River Sojourn adventures. Ask questions! What have you experienced here?

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