I often get asked about the Salton Sea. Whether it is still there. Yes, but a little smaller. I am looking at a mid to dark blue sea as I write this, sitting at my dining room table (the view is better than the wall in front of my desk), which means it’s pretty breezy out there. I love the fact that I can tell the windspeed by the color of the sea, and that sometimes one half of it will be dark and the other light. That when there is no wind, it is the same color as the sky.
This morning I walked down to the shore, such as it is, now perhaps a half mile of what will eventually be salt flats – some of it dry enough to walk on, much of it not, so I can no longer go to the water’s edge without ending up up to my thighs in fish guano.
I took a photo of the ‘reflecting pool’, which when I moved here almost fifteen years ago was full of water up to the far side of that little row of vegetation in the front.
When I returned I wrote this:
Palm Springs to Yuma – not a hint of breeze,
the silence is so loud you’ll hear your heart
beat in your chest. Your breath will stop and start
as you behold the mirror Salton Sea’s
become on such a day. A piece of sky
stretched on the desert floor – cerulean rug
of knots so fine. And ’til a stop will tug
the air, that blessed earthly canopy,
and then that sea to ever deepening blue
then gray, then black with whitecapse, watch this glass
this polished surface thirty five miles vast
reflects the sky it lives under, to you.
On windless days, the Salton Sea shines most,
more than the oceans found on either coast.
On Thursday I had to go over to Borrego Springs for an Art meeting. I was held up by gazillions of wonderful visitors looking for the right place to stop to look at flowers. Of course you can’t see flowers in detail when you’re driving at 55 – the speed limit along the S22 which for those non-locals is the only road between Salton City and Borrego Springs.
I don’t know what it is, but it’s one of my ‘private collection’ because I’m apparently the only person who goes where this flower is.
By the time I was late for the meeting, I’d composed this in my head and plan to put it on a sign at the corner of S22.
While you’re trolling for flowers at 20,
that vehicle that’s riding your ass
is a local that’s late getting somewhere,
so please let the tailgater pass!
Another weather-related tale to follow the drizzle in Arizona. Last Friday I was scheduled to sit in the gift-shop at the 29 Palms Art Gallery, and was also going to take artwork in for the upcoming membership judged show. I knew that there had been a little snow in the high desert because Snake Jagger had posted a picture of some snow in his front yard in Morongo Valley on Wednesday.
I love snow in the low desert: it’s up there on the mountains, where it looks pretty, not down here in the driveway where you have to shovel it.
On the Thursday afternoon, Darlene who is the scheduler at the 29 Palms Gallery called me and said that the previous day the grade between Morongo Valley and Yucca Valley had been closed because of snow on Wednesday and that it was snowing in Yucca Valley right now and was forecast to continue snowing until 11pm and freeze overnight. She thought the chances of my making it to the gallery safely the next day were slim and had called in a possible substitute.
I said let’s wait until the morning to see. Friday morning I called her and she said the sun was shining and everything was melting. Caltrans website confirmed the 62 was open so I set out.
There’s even snow on the Santa Rosas
San Gorgonio mountains with snow is not unusual
Getting closer to Morongo – on the 62 now – yes, it snowed up there!
I had to stop in Yucca Valley to pick up a painting that Raini had collected for me from the prior show so I was able to take an unusual photo – me with snow.
Selfie with snow (and sunshine).
I had considered taking a pic of me holding a snowball but the thought of cold wet hands made me reconsider. This is quite close enough to the snow for me.
I get inspiration when at art fairs from my neighbors. At the SouthWest Festival last weekend the booth across from me was selling metal cacti and palm trees. It inspired me to write a sonnet about the real thing.
Cacti protect themselves with spiky skin
from critters that would like to eat their flesh,
but on account of that protective mesh
of thorns, cannot get to the juice within.
Cacti may bloom when given sufficient rain.
The pincushion creates a sudden flower,
bright in the sun, until another shower,
with nectar got bees spreading pollen down the chain
of life. Some cacti hide their spikes inside –
the poison pencil’s not the one to chew.
Others make buds that drop and roll and root anew
and spread their kind through desert far and wide.
So if your home’s where little water went
it’s probably best to be a succulent.
Last Wednesday when we were setting up for the South West Art Festival in Indio, my booth neighbor from Utah, had stacked his boxes on the grass in the space between our booths. This fair is at the Polo Grounds and we have lush grass there. I’d not met Peter before but that’s no excuse to not be a good neighbor.
I suggested that he put tarps under his boxes, pointing out that the polo field was very well irrigated, plus we had had several days of great rain recently and might get dew. Yes, I know, dew in the desert seems like an oxymoron but it does happen! Peter decided to take my advice and while I was unloading and parking the truck piled his boxes into my space and tarped under his boxing area.
How wet can it possibly get in the desert???
Turned out to be a good call. On the Thursday morning when we were completing set-up, my boots were quite sodden walking around on the grass. If he had not tarped under them, those boxes would’ve been history.
Last night I went to the reception for the La Quinta Museum suprise show ‘Local Color’. This show happened because the planned show of Generation Z artwork and musings turned out to be a much physically smaller show than anticipated and the museum suddenly had a lot of bare walls. A little social media work to local artists to bring in a piece first come first served quickly fixed the problem.
The lady in the black dress bottom left is Alana – the gallery owner at sm’Art studio in La Quinta. Finally caught her on camera! Behind her is Michael Angelo (Hernandez) who also sells work there. Yes, my work hangs next to that of MichaelAngelo!
Nice of the museum to paint that floating wall to match my painting. Shame about them not putting up the sign I gave them that wrote out the Shakespearean sonnet written for and painted into the painting.
I spent some time in early August hoping we would get rained on, without joy. I was hopeful yesterday too, with a wind coming up from the gulf, but the dessicating desert air all mopped it up and we just got haze.
I watch the nimbus build across the west
a great gray blanket blotting out the sun,
the gathering of storm has just begun –
we need the rain! The cumulus start to crest
off to the south, into great thunderheads.
The tension builds in the electric air.
I bring the lawn chairs in and thus prepare
for wind that might just tear such things to shreds
with its intensity. I know the drill;
stratus accumulate and start to bear down
as if to smother this belittled town –
they’ll rumble, crack and then they’ll start to spill.
The coulds build up as if to promise rain,
but in the afternoon’s heat dissipate again.
I have to say that this was one painting (or pair of paintings) executed under the most hostile of weathers. No, not so much heat, but the desiccating wind. I had to stop on the second morning and go back for a short session closer to dawn on the third day, and then it was a struggle. The good news is that once I’d drawn up the letters, I could quickly go from one side to the other, painting layers, knowing full well that that my start point would be completely dry by the time I returned to it in about 25 minutes. At the end of the second day I had to quit because the paint was drying on the brush. The east side of the boat was too hot to work, and the west side, in the shade and wind, I was shivering. And I still had to figure out how to spray with an acrylic glaze with the UV component – in a stiff breeze.
Nevertheless ‘Poseidon’ has its name on its sides and today will be test launched. Eventually this boat will carry a solar powered pump which will pump water from the Salton Sea into the marina ‘fingers’ in Desert Shores, to maintain the water level and mitigate red agae. Launch day is on Sunday.