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!
Last night I guided a small group through a paint and wine class at Vanguard Gallery in Moreno Valley. One of my students had already taken classes with me, including the Absolute Beginners class and was happy to work through this painting of winter solstice sunrise across the Salton Sea to hone some of the skills.
We’re doing an underpainting to get rid of the white so in the final painting we’re not strugging with that aspect
We’re painting the sky part of the top coat
It’s easier to paint the bottom of the panel when it’s upside down.
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.