April 2, 1917
A miserable day for sketching today. The rain makes it unpleasant, but it’s the wind that makes it difficult, if not impossible. When it rains or snows you can always take or fashion a shelter. But you can’t do that with wind. It blows everything around. I bring clothes pins to hold the sketch down, but sketching on a windy day, is like picnicking on a windy day – one moment of lapsed vigilance, your meal is strewn around on the ground and your picnic is ruined.
The scene I chose today wasn’t particularly inspiring. If I don’t motivate myself to go further afield, I’ll be destined to painting birches by the shore. I might begin to despise these trees. But then again, part of my plan was to paint the same scenes over as the season changes.
The seasons are changing at Canoe Lake but what is constant is Shannon and Annie. Shannon still has his peculiar habits and misplaced enthusiasm. He likes milking the cows (when he feels like it, it’s usually Annie) while wearing his tie and fedora. Annie, bless her soul, is so caught up in her chores and keeping the place running that she has little presence to talk about anything that isn’t a pressing household issue: laundry, ironing, making sure that a bear doesn’t get into the root cellar, or keeping the consumptives comfortable. I am probably a household issue too, but I’m sure Shannon and Annie don’t talk about me as an issue in my presence. That’s done behind closed doors or out of earshot. I’ve been in a poor mood the past few evenings. They must have discussed some issue, because the other guests are politely steering clear of me.
After breakfast I wrote a letter to Winnie. To ensure my letter was properly posted I went to Canoe Lake Station with Shannon in his sled. I put my letter in the mail bag as it went on the train. That was the only way I could be assured that my letter would not raise unnecessary curiosities or be intercepted by the censors at Mowat P.O. Posted today and Winnie should get the letter by Thursday. That’s before Good Friday. That would make her happy.
I brought my sketch box. I bid Shannon adieu and I walked back to find a place to sketch. I saw some gulls flying about, and ducks sitting on the ice’s edge by open water. The birds are coming back, and I can hear them singing too. I set up (in the wind) andfinished my sketch in less than an hour and got back to Mowat Lodge at noon. After lunch, I read in my room. On my night table, I laid out to dry some feathers I found this morning. I plan to use them to make fishing flies.
I’ve been thinking about things. That I should write some other letters to my father and my brother in law, Tom Harkness. It’s Easter next weekend. I also thought I should go visit Winnie, but that would interrupt my painting. Her parents are always happy to see me. But the last time I could see in their eyes some awkwardness and anxiety. They like me, but I’m sure they don’t appreciate my affections toward Winnie if it doesn’t result in marriage. They’ve never said anything, but I don’t think they see me as the marrying type. I don’t disagree but it’s not a topic to be brought up over a Thanksgiving dinner. I could see it written it all over their faces, that they’ve concluded I’m not a marrying man. That’s probably the real reason I don’t want to visit Winnie at her parents’
I saw the headline in the paper today: President Wilson has asked US Congress to declare war on Germany.
I’ve got to start on those flies.