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I Wandered Down to the Spokane River

Today, I wandered down to the Spokane River below the equestrian area at Riverside State Park, looking for wildflowers on the southern hillsides. But it is still, much too early. I parked at the military cemetery trailhead and followed the Centennial Trail until it intersected one of my favorite trail in the park. I followed the well worn rocky path around the big eddy across from the golf course until it began to traverse the steep and rocky riverbank. The rye grass is greening up as is the moss, and unknown rosettes clung to the sandy soil. I imagined for a moment, all the beautiful browns, grays, and greens I could mix on my palette - if only I could muster the courage to sit still in the cold.

From the end of the trail, I made my way down onto the flood plain. The river was running high and greenish from the outpouring of Latah Creek no more than half a mile upstream. Dozens of ragged willows sat like marooned hams out in the boulders lining the river's edge. Their tops having been repeatedly snapped off by floodwaters. None of them were more than 6 to 8 feet tall while dense clumps of vigorous orange shoots crowned the most recent breaks.

Higher up on the shallow bank, gnarled ponderosa pines grew and let me to a soft place in the sand where I sat down. The tree's bark, especially on the south side, was a rich orange-brown. Wherever the bark remains dry and exposed to the sun, I assume, the red colors really come out. It was a perfect place to draw or paint. I brought my sketchbook with me and camp chair, but I was too pooped and mentally vacant from battling the flu. After I got back to my feet, I poked around in the rocks that had rolled down the hill but couldn't find any treasures.

I trudged up the hill slowly, stopping every 20 feet, or so, to catch my breath and look at the rocks and sandy wash some more, before continuing on. I anguished over subject matter in my mind and what colors to use on my palette as I walked back, instead of looking at the beauty around me. Mental funk can be a challenge to deal with sometimes I guess.

But there is beauty in muted colors and gray sky. I know that. Yet sometimes I just can't see it. Physically I am not well, and probably not mentally right either. I think I'm just depressed, plain and simple. The flu doesn't help, the weather doesn't help, but I help. I am making an effort, even if it's small.

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