April 5, 1917
Another cold day. When the sun did come out later in the afternoon I could feel the warmth, but the strong winds took the warmth away. I started later in the afternoon today. I first went into the woods to look for a scene to paint but the poor light didn’t give me anything to work with. But I’m glad I went into the bush because I saw lots of signs of life – spring is truly coming. Before I decided to head back, I sat down to have a snack. I brought a piece of buttered bread with sausage for myself and sunflower seeds and oatmeal flakes for the birds. I sprinkled the seeds and oats on a pine stump; they must have heard me and a flock of black-capped chickadees descended eagerly from the trees. The “chicka-dee-dee!” call was ringing out. I could tell that this wasn’t a warning call but a call that food was found. Not a minute had gone by and there were over twenty chickadees about and several hopped on my sketch box which I had laid against the stump I was sitting on. The birds were looking at my sandwich. I took one last bite, broke up the bread and scattered it on the ground. A chipmunk had also joined the party on the pine stump and from above in a nearby tree a squirrel was eyeing the scene.
It was calm in the bush but the wind was making a loud noise throughout the treetops. The spring wind through the trees is a deep-throated rushing sound, different than in the summer because there are no rustling leaves to attenuate the sound. I didn’t need my snowshoes because the snow was crystallized and compacted and I hadn’t planned to deviate too far off the tote road, which turns into the main trail for the winter sleds.
It was getting on to early evening before I found the right scene. A stand of birches, the hills behind, and the sun just below the hills. In the foreground, rocks and snow. A nice combination of elements. Despite it being close to evening, it was still windy and the wind knocked my sketch box out of my lap and sent the sketch tumbling onto the ground. It fell face down into the snow (fortunately, not into the dirt). It picked up a few pine needles that were blown on the snow by the wind. I picked out the pine needles and repaired the damage from the fall. I had to redo several of the birch tree trunks. Despite as some say, that this is slap-dash painting, if you don’t get it right, the effect and feeling that you’re looking for, disappears and what you have is a dead sketch. I’ve seen many a dead sketches in my time. If a sketch of mine is dead, I scrape, burn it, or break it up and throw it in the bush. This wasn’t going to be a dead sketch.
I was a bit distracted. That’s why my sketch fell, I was thinking of other things. Had I paid more attention to the wind it wouldn’t have fallen. I usually lose myself when painting and I only think of the scene that I want to create. But other times I can’t but help think about the things that are bothering me and some thoughts just won’t go away.
I was thinking about money. I don’t put on any airs about money. I don’t really care about the stuff, except when I know I might be coming up short. I hate debt and obligations. I pay my fair expense and never bicker about the price. If someone needs the money more than I do, fine, but just be fair about it. I am hoping that Dr. MacCallum will sell a few of my sketches in Toronto and put the money in my account. I am not sure where my account stands (I need to write a letter to the bank) but I know that a $200 credit with Shannon. That should take care of my living expense. I am trying to draw down as slowly as possible by helping out with the chores around the lodge. Yesterday, I helped Shannon fix the pump. This morning I spent an hour chopping firewood. The colder weather means that all three stoves in the lodge have to be going full tilt and Shannon didn’t have enough split firewood to last the day. It’s coming up on Easter so I chopped enough to keep the Lodge going through to Monday at least. Annie doesn’t want anyone to be chopping firewood on Easter Sunday.
I was also thinking about Winnie. I still feel bad that I didn’t see her in Huntsville. Winnie doesn’t know about Florence. I am not sure I am going to tell her. Florence and I are good friends, she has taught me a lot in painting but people don’t seem to understand that boy-girl friendships can exist outside of the clubs, churches and societies. It’s unspoken but there’s a very strict order to friendships and relationships, even here in the Park. There are the Visitors, the Rangers, the Lumbermen, Railmen, and the Locals. If you don’t fit into any one of the categories you are suspect. At least in the Park, they’re more forgiving about friendships across the different folk. In the City, if you don’t belong to the same club or society, your friendship becomes a matter for everyone else to judge.. The working and moneyed class don’t mix, nor do the British stock with the southern Europeans. Since Florence is now a member of the O.S.A (one of the few women members) it’s easier to be friends now. But I don’t think Winnie will understand. Florence is coming up. I won’t tell her not to. I am hoping that Annie and Shannon will understand the situation.