March 24, 1917 Portrait of Shannon

March 24, 1917

Shannon Fraser

My second day of sketching today. I plan to do a sketch every day until the late spring. That’s when the green colours take over and it is no longer as interesting to paint. If I do one every day, until the end of May, it’ll be about 60 sketches.

Today, I stayed close to the lodge. Yesterday’s travelling was draining and I was still tired. I decided not to venture too far for my sketch, so I stayed out front closer to the shore. After I was done I decided to keep company with Mowat’s two other guests, Lucille and Everett. They’re from Ottawa and are staying here on doctor’s orders. Consumptive refugees, they’re called. Two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon, breathing the balsam air, is the doctor’s prescription. When I returned I sat with them on the porch and showed them my sketch. I could tell they thought I was rather peculiar, but they liked my sketch. I obliged by making sure my pipe smoke was kept well away from them. I propped it up on the railing on the porch.

I had a nap in the afternoon. I came down to the dining room and started the fire in the fireplace and spent the remainder of the afternoon reading. I brought in my sketch. It was still on the porch from this morning. I set it beside the one I did yesterday.

Dinner was in the kitchen. With only three guests in the lodge, we could all sit around the kitchen table. It’s warmest in the kitchen and the cosiest place to be. The dining room is big and it has a chill that doesn’t go away until later in the spring. It’s the drafts I’m sure of. I can tell by the cobwebs. There’s a few on the ceiling that Annie won’t get to until spring cleaning. They’re hard to see, and you won’t see them if you’re not looking for them. But I see them; they undulate ever so slightly, constantly, as if they’re trembling in the presence of an ever-constant spirit.  That’s probably why Annie hasn’t whisked them away. She’s worried about upsetting the spirts.

Later in the evening the other guests went to bed. Shannon and I stayed around the fireplace but eventually the call of whisky brought us to the table. I brought two bottles with me, one is still packed away, the other one I brought down. With the aid of Shannon’s shot glasses, we managed to put a few good ones away to warm us up even more. I noticed that the light of the kerosene lamp and the shadows cast from the fireplace made Shannon look regal and I decided to sketch his portrait on a panel that I used to wipe my brushes. When I finished, Shannon got a good laugh out of the result.

Tomorrow is another day. I’m thinking about my next sketch. I’ll go further afield and into the bush. I’ll go into the hills behind the lodge.

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