Cold and Dry

I’m not much for dry media. Even my colored pencils are watercolor pencils. I have a beautiful set — untouched for 25 years — of Swiss made Conté Crayons in all colors, but chances are I’ll never use them. But when we were kids, and my brother and I got Jon Gnagy Learn To Draw kits for Christmas, the charcoal was the coolest part of them for me. At that point in my artist “career” I didn’t know how to manage watercolors. Part of that, I now understand, was not having had real watercolor paper. That stuff is a big help. All I had was so called “good paper” (it was all white and had never been used before) and ordinary paper (we got to draw on the backs). Once in a while we’d get an entire drawing pad.

Charcoal was especially good for the exercises in Jon Gnagy’s book that pertained to “values.” My brother was perfectly happy to turn 2 dimensional circles into spheres through shading over and over. I wasn’t. I did it once and that was enough for me. “OK, I get it, NEXT!!!” When I got oil paints, my world changed.

For those who don’t know Jon Gnagy, here’s a video.

The Weather Forecast

This is the forecast for Monte Vista, Colorado. It’s going to be a wild and freezing shit-show with big losses for agriculture, and not just my beans. The total forecast indicates that Monte Vista could get as much as a foot of snow in the three or four day period of this storm. It’s still officially summer here in the US (even though I know those Aussies declare fall on September 1 or Spring, if they happen to be in Australia). It’s snowed in September before in my memory, the fall of 1983, but not this early.

And then it’s supposed to turn back to summer/fall and go on like nothing happened. I’m on the fence about how much I want to fight this on behalf of my beans and tomatoes. I’m going to pick the largest bean pods and bring them in. I’m going to try to cover everything, but four nights of below freezing might turn out to be too much for all of us. Too bad I don’t have one of those charcoal smudge pots they use in the orange orchards.

But I know deep in my soul that nature will as nature will and in the end I have no choice but to resign myself to her/it.

But, I woke up with this poem in my mind. I don’t even like the poem, but considering that last night I trimmed back iris under a fire-sky, red from smoke, and I’m now considering how to cover my plants from frost and wondering where my snow shovel is, it seemed right.

Fire and Ice 


Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

On that profound note, I leave you. I have to clean up the deck for a Covid-19 tea party, or wake for summer, not sure yet.

30 thoughts on “Cold and Dry

  1. I relate, we have an Alberta Clipper pushing through. I will cover most things tonight, but I figure I’ll probably lose my tomatoes. Which in the grand scheme of what’s happening in California, is really nothing at all.

    • Yep. There’s a large fire about 2 miles from my CA home. We have a big fire in Colorado, too, near Rocky Mountain National park. Hopefully, the snow dump will dampen that down. I’m tired of this insane year and taking one day at a time and putting a good face on it. Bear sends a butt sniff to Ophelia.

  2. I remember trying to draw a cocker spaniel from my Jon Gnagy kit (I mean “outfit”). His looked better than mine. I mostly had fun playing with the kneaded eraser.
    My grandmother from Superior, WI. used to tell of the time it snowed on her birthday (July 4)

  3. What crazy weather patterns this week — it was 110 here yesterday, with fires in Azusa and eastern San Diego County (Alpine). Parts of LA broke hottest ever records at 121! Another similar day today, then a couple of days slightly better before we go back up again. The sun came up red this morning, and the sky is brown.

    • The fires in east San Diego County are near where I used to live. There’s an evacuation warning for my town. That fire is growing fast and the stuff that grows out there thrives on fire, so as long as it stays hot… 😦 I feel so bad for all the terrified people out there on the west coast, those needing decent air to breathe, everyone.

      • I was concerned that might be the case — I hope Alpine survives this fire! The fires are nasty out here this season (no, the ‘season’ hasn’t really begun yet), but one good thing is that the cloud cover (no, it’s a smoke cover) is helping to keep us a little cooler than might otherwise be the case! I’m glad I live close to the beach, and not to the mountains — though there’s plenty of brush to burn not far from my home.

  4. I had a John Gnagy kit. For some reason, I was fascinated by the kneaded eraser. I guess I was just used to the pink school eraser. ‘Kneaded’ sounded so exotic. It is cooler here this morning…but I still want snow photos if you get snow this week!

  5. Martha, I hadn’t heard about that outlandish weather prediction! Stay safe, and I know you’ll do whatever seems right for your plants. I loved watching this artist draw on TV as a kid. I asked for one of his sets numerous times but never received one. Probably my parents could already tell I had no hidden talents in that realm, and they were right:)

  6. I remember those kits! Not sure if I ever got one or just wished for one, but my artistic talents didn’t show up until middle age, sad to say. Now I can draw nice flowers & snowmen. 😉

  7. I received a fancy looking set of “Cray-pas” when I was a kid – a hybrid of crayons and pastels, but no special paper to use. I remember how pretty they looked in the box, all lined up and I don’t know if I ever did much with them. Perhaps I was intimidated by the oddness.
    That’s crazy weather coming your way. It’s hard to fight nature but I don’t blame you for trying to protect your beans and all. Good luck with that.
    Not sure about that poem. Perhaps R.F. was not having a good day when he wrote it. Enjoy you tea party 🙂

  8. No clue who Jon Gnagy was; maybe just a wee bit before my time.

    Expecting a similar cold front here, but without moisture, so no snow, although cold enough overnight to do so (30F). Here’s hoping any snow you do get melts quickly, but not until Bear has a chance to roll in it. Follow Bear’s example, because as you note, you can’t stop it so you might as well play in it 🙂

    • Jon Gnagy was a TV artist who believed anyone could learn to draw. He was on in the sixties. It just might not have been in your range of interest at the time. I think I only saw him on TV twice, but it was enough for my brother beg for that drawing set.

      I just cut my beans back to a coverable size and rehearsed everything. We’ll see what I actually do.

  9. I’ve got my fingers crossed that the prediction of a foot of snow is an error and you only get a dusting! I never saw this artist. We had Bob Ross and his happy little trees painted with acrylic paints. I still enjoy his tutorials.

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