Sometimes Life sends you a gift. Late last week, my husband and I decided it was time to go camping. We needed the therapy of the great outdoors. He checked online and discovered that the fishing lakes in Kansas are still open to the public. After reviewing the weather forecast, we chose Tuesday, April 7 for our outing. The weather would be dry and the temperatures mild.
He is an avid fly fisherman and hadn’t dropped a fly in the water for ten months. I don’t care for fishing, preferring to sit at the lake’s edge and enjoy more passive activities. I brought a book, my sketching supplies and a pile of tangled yarn to straighten out.
We arrived around eleven a.m. at our favorite Kansas lake. At that time, there was almost no one else there. It was glorious – the sun glinting on the water, the fresh breeze blowing off the water and the trees just barely showing leaves. He was off like a shot in his float tube and I got out my sketch book.
This is the first outdoor sketching I have done since getting interested in drawing last year. I found the experience very relaxing. The goal of the plein-air sketch is just to capture some basic information about what you see. It’s after you bring the sketches back to your studio that you can turn them into more detailed drawings. These bluebirds intrigued me. I had never seen a pair as such close range, and never seen them nesting in nature.
Here’s the yarn I untangled. It used to be a cabled glove in process. I decided to abandon the project completely and start over with the green wool.
After cooking and eating dinner, the sun was beginning to set. Eager to see it up close we strolled along the lakeshore toward the western part of the lake. Bill took still images and made a few videos of the gorgeous sky and its reflection in the water. Once the show was over, we turned and proceeded back along the shore, now looking east.
We were astonished at what happened next. The full moon, now rising just below tree tops, sliding up through the gathering mist of the lake, and soon in full view, was huge. With the fading of the sun, the sky turned from blue to indigo to deep purple. The moon changed from pink to orange to gold, and then paled out to white.
What a lucky surprise, we said to each other. We hadn’t been expecting a full moon, and certainly not one of such beauty. Returning to the campsite, he built up the fire and we sat quietly waiting for night to fall. By around nine o’clock, the light of the moon was so intense we could still discern colors. The moon shadows of not only our bodies but also of everything around us were crisply outlined on the ground.
We retired to bed. The moonlight’s glow penetrated the tent walls. It never did get dark that night. And it certainly never got quiet. It seems that the full moon in April is the time specified by Nature for every frog in the county to go a-courting. I have never heard such a raucous sound coming from the lake. It out-shouted the cattle lowing, the coyotes barking and the owls whooing. I called them laughing frogs, but really it sounded more like the din of a sports bar during the biggest game of the year.
Despite the noise, we slept. We woke just in time to see the sun rise over the still, glassy lake. Another moment that will be etched deeply into our collective memories.