Top of the World to you

"Early morning at Moon Lake," oil on canvasboard, by Carol L. Douglas

“Early morning at Moon Lake,” oil on canvasboard, by Carol L. Douglas
I got up at dawn to paint the Alaska Range peeking over the fall foliage. My practice is to set out my wet paintings to dry. The forest was absolutely still. I could hear the susurration of wings as the occasional bird flew overhead.
The first night that we spent sleeping in a lay-by, I was unnerved by the silence. Now, I like it. I could easily become a backwoods prospector. The first thing that would go would be the socially mandated feminine foundation, however. A muddy bra is a terrible thing. So is a muddy nightgown, and I now have both.
Wildfires are common in Alaska. This one is in the Nisling Range. Blueberries and cranberries grow here.

Wildfires are common in Alaska. This one is in the Nisling Range. Blueberries and cranberries grow here.
I was startled by a ruckus directly behind me. A woodpecker was testing the surfaces of my drying paintings. He was as rattled as me by the encounter, and flew into a nearby spruce to complain.
After Tok, we chose to take the Taylor Highway, instead of the Alaska Highway. There are parts of the Alaska Highway I’d miss seeing, but I went that way just last year.
Chicken, AK. Yep, that's it.

Chicken, AK. Yep, that’s it.
The only real town, if you can call it that, on this route is Chicken, AK. Prospectors noted the prevalence of rock ptarmigan in the area. However, they couldn’t agree on the spelling of “ptarmigan,” so they chose a similar bird to avoid embarrassment.
With a total land mass of 115 square miles, its population is exactly seven. This is caribou season, however, and every lay-by is filled with hunters’ pickups and makeshift camps. There are still small-scale gold mines in the Chicken area.
The equipment is bigger, but it's not much different from placer mining.

The equipment is bigger, but it’s not much different from placer mining.
At Boundary, we were above the tree line. I’ve driven the Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, but this was more terrifying. The SUV slid on the gravel, and there were no guard rails next to sheer drop-offs. Mary stared straight ahead and mumbled about high rollover rates.
The US-Canadian border crossing near Boundary, AK is above the treeline.

The US-Canadian border crossing near Boundary, AK is above the treeline.
This high border crossing is also the most northerly one in the United States. It is manned by three Americans and four Canadians. When the snow flies—which is imminent—it will close and its personnel will return to their winter homes.
There is no bridge to Dawson City. Instead, there's a ferry.

There is no bridge to Dawson City. Instead, there’s a ferry.
In Canada this becomes the Top of World Highway. It has no bridge across the Yukon River, so we were ferried across. This is a fast-moving river, and the ferry pilot needs immense skill to bring the boat around in the current and slam her against the mud banks on either side.
Mary and I both have head colds, so we decided not to camp. Instead, we took rooms in The Dawson City Bunkhouse. A wood frame building, it’s either masquerading as old, or it’s old and completely redone. Open landings surround each story of bunkrooms. You scurry down these to the toilets and showers. But it has heat and hot water, and we reveled in them.

The Alaska Range

“The Alaska Range,” oil on canvasboard, by Carol L. Douglas
Neither rain nor snow nor threat of sleep deprivation shall keep us from our appointed rowdiness.

Mary and I coined that as our trip’s slogan. It’s insane. Mary has a cold and I’m feeling an irksome scratchiness to the throat. We can afford for one of us to be ill, but if both of us are down, who’s going to drive?
These long days are taking a toll. We are up at 6:00 AM, and in bed late at night. Even with this, we’ve made little forward progress, at least on the map. Still, we’re making some progress. One more day to clear Alaska and be back in the Pacific Time Zone.

16th century illustration of placer mining. The Gold Rush prospectors used essentially the same technique.
Yesterday, we followed the Richardson Highway south and east from Fairbanks. This road tracks the Tanana River through the richest gold strike area ever found in Alaska.
Gold was first found here by Russian settlers in the 1850s. Sporadic attempts to prospect and mine were made throughout the 19thcentury but it was not until the Klondike gold rush of 1896 in neighboring Canada that the madness was on.
At Big Delta, the Tanana River spreads into myriad fingers of water and gravel bars stretching into the far distance. This area must have seemed irresistible to placer miners trying for the next big strike. In 1902, gold was discovered here. It would end up being the most lucrative strike in Alaska history.

A spur trail was built from Gulkana on the Valdez-Eagle route to the new mining areas around Fairbanks. Rika’s Roadhouse, north of Delta Junction, is one of the few tangible remnants of the Valdez-Fairbanks Trail.
Enterprising men panned for gold, and other enterprising men and women provided support. Rika’s was built in 1910 by John Hajdukovich, who sold it to his manager, Rika Wallen, in 1923. She paid “$10.00 and other considerations.” We might conclude that John owed his manager money, or worse. Wallen ran the roadhouse into the late 1940s and lived there until her death in 1969.

Swank digs: a picnic table and a fire pit!
Compared to the Dalton Highway, the Richardson Highway is downright luxurious—it’s completely paved, and there are occasional gas stations. Still, it’s easy to see how miserable conditions were for those old prospectors. It’s still summer and temperatures are dropping into the 30s overnight. As calm as the Tanana looks from a distance, walk down to its edge and you realize that line of shadow on the closest bar in the river is actually a high, overhanging bluff. The river is large and boils along like milky chocolate. Those men deserved every penny they wrested from that inhospitable earth.
We resolved to not drive at night any more in moose country, so at twilight we stopped at Moon Lake and paid the princely sum of $18 for a camping site. Ah—the precious luxury of a chemical toilet and a fire pit! Still, both of us are feeling a bit gamey right now and a hot shower is starting to seem like the Holy Grail.

Just set it and forget it! Campfire risotto.

At dusk, I painted a small study while Mary cooked dinner. The only other visitors in the park were four young German tourists. After we exchanged greetings, they ambled off and got high by the light of the setting sun. Marijuana is legal in Alaska, and evidently it’s a tourist attraction.

“No Northern Lights tonight,” oil on canvasboard, by Carol L. Douglas
My goal for this trip was eight hours of painting and driving per day. That was not very realistic, and the pace is part of the reason we’re flirting with head colds. After my summer in Waldoboro, I should have remembered that everything takes longer off the grid.

Above the Arctic Circle

Light snow above the Artic Circle, by Carol L. Douglas.

I didn’t even know I had a bucket list, let alone that painting above the Arctic Circle was on it. But as I crossed the Yukon River, I realized that no amount of bad road was going to stop me from seizing this opportunity. My daughter asked me whether the Dawson Highway or the one-lane roads in the Hebrides were more terrifying to drive. It’s a draw.

The Dawson Highway is muddy and slick this time of year.
Northerners know that 25° F and damp feels colder than below 0° F and dry. It hovered in the freezing range all day, with bands of snow. It was beautiful, but not that comfortable.
The Alaska Pipeline near Yukon River.
We followed the Alaska Pipeline north from Fairbanks into the Arctic. It snakes from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, and it’s a beautiful companion. It appears to be meticulously maintained; not only the pipe itself but the property surrounding it.
In some ways, Alaska has a “King Cotton” economy, based on oil. However, they don’t do much refining here. That’s part of the reason gasoline is pricier here; the other is the sheer distance between places. In Yukon River, I paid $5.59/gallon for unleaded.
Ice storm on the Dawson Highway.
As we approached the Arctic Circle, it got snowier and more desolate. The birch forests dwindled, leaving stunted black spruce forests and low shrubs on the higher elevations. The deep red of blueberry bushes covered the slopes.
A Mercedes people-mover played tag with us on the Dawson Highway. That’s a top-heavy vehicle and it worried me to see it slip-sliding in the deep mud at reckless speeds. We stopped at the Arctic Circle for the requisite photo op; it followed us in.
Un-mudding at the Arctic Circle.
We waited patiently while its load of Chinese tourists took every possible photo—the sign with each person, the sign with a hand puppet, calisthenics in front of the sign. A woman posed for a photo with our mud-spattered Maine license plate. At that, Mary and I collapsed in mirth, and they scurried away before I could say hello.

Visibility issues took a variety of forms.
After making a cup of hot coffee on our cook stove, we headed back south, intending to camp near Manley Hot Springs. The visibility was too poor, so we stopped where we were for the night. It was mighty cold when we woke up this morning.
It’s sunny this morning. We’re heading in stages toward Dawson City, Yukon, which was one of the base camps for the Alaska Gold Rush.

Up Ship Creek

“Up Ship Creek,” oil on canvasboard, by Carol L. Douglas
If you were to clone Aroostook County, stamp it out an infinite number of times, and suck out all the people and most of the potatoes and roads, you would have created Alaska. Oh, you’d need to crumple your finished drawing too, for Alaska is also very mountainous.
I know this because I am hundreds of miles north of Anchorage. Our intended starting point for this trip was the Arctic Ocean. I’m not sure we’re going to get that far north, because the paved road ends at Coldfoot. But we are heading north to see.
Nenana. The name of its river, Tanana, doesn’t rhyme with it.
I started the day at Buzco Automotive in South Anchorage. It is very unprepossessing but the owner, Jayson, is a very gifted mechanic. A replacement catalytic converter was $1000 and a day’s delay. Instead, he cut the pipe and cleaned out the mess. Presto, a smooth engine.
While Jayson worked on my car, I painted a little study of Ship Creek, which winds through industrial South Anchorage. (I was working from a tow yard and would have liked to add a few car parts, but the angle was impossible.)
The car ran like a top as we zoomed through the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. Mist shrouded the mountains and the autumn foliage stood out against the towering, jagged peaks.
And then we blew the muffler.
Reluctantly, I turned back to Wasilla and Googled muffler shops. We opted for the local one, Quality Muffler, and prayed it wouldn’t be busy.
Mike was waiting for us. He smiled when we said, “Bet you heard us coming!” 

Ten Thousand Reasons (to bless the Lord) by Mat Redman was pouring out of his speakers. Mike replaced a gasket, a hanger strap, and the missing bolts. He pumped up our spare tire and sent us on our way with two jars of his wife’s home-canned salmon.
We have been moved along a chain of saints since arriving in Anchorage. Pastor Jerry and Heidie Godfrey, Jason Rowland and Debbie Paine, Jayson the mechanic and Mike the muffler guy all helped us because, as believers, they felt an obligation to the wandering stranger. It’s a powerful ministry and I hope I can do as well for others.

You may believe this is coincidence, or that Christians just like blessing other Christians. But I was there. We have been guided step-by-step by the Holy Spirit, and now we’re cruising north of Fairbanks in a car that’s purring like a cream-filled cat.

On a clear day, you can see Denali

Small study from Potter Marsh, looking at the Chugach National Forest across Turnagain Arm.

“The road to Seward,” 8X6, by Carol L. Douglas.
On Friday morning, I wondered whether I was stranded in Anchorage with a dead SUV. Since I wasn’t expecting this, I had no Plan B. It turns out that the engine misfire isn’t a fatal problem. The bad news is that we still don’t have a running car.
After the track bar was re-welded on Friday, our mechanic suggested we make ourselves scarce until he had time to work on the engine. My daughter Mary recommended Potter Marsh in the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge. Here, the Seward Highway runs along Turnagain Arm. Across the water are the blue peaks of the Chugach National Forest, shrouded in clouds. Any of these land features would send me hurrying for my paints; together they were overwhelming.
Painting with Plein Air Painters of Alaska members.

Gil, at right, gave me enough OMS to start painting. These are members of Plein Air Painters of Alaska.
At the first overlook, I met another plein air painter. He turned out to be Gil fromPlein Air Painters of Alaska. They were holding their weekly paint-out at the marsh. Chattering happily, I set up next to Gil, only to realize that I’d forgotten to buy odorless mineral spirits (OMS) and medium after my flight. Mary ran off to the art supply store, and Gil kindly poured enough OMS into my tank to get me started.
I painted until about 1 PM and returned to the garage. Eventually, the mechanic realized that he couldn’t diagnose the problem in the time left. Disheartened, Mary called her friends Debbie and Jason to ask if we could stay another night with them. Jason drove the car and listened to the misfire. He called a mechanic friend of his for help, who offered to look at the car on Saturday afternoon.
My impromptu drawing class on Saturday morning. From left, Kendra, Mitchell and Jason.

My impromptu drawing class. From left, Kendra, Mitchell and Jason. That’s Brodie supervising.
Meanwhile, Debbie cooked up a drawing class for me on Saturday morning. We spent a few hours at Westchester Lagoon learning how to measure, about perspective, and how to draw a tree and a house. It was a beautiful distraction from car trouble.
Jason’s mechanic friend turned out to be a born teacher himself. He reasoned through every step with us. By the time he’d spent a few hours puttering, he’d convinced me that the problem is a blocked catalytic converter. Trouble is, the work can’t be done until this morning, and there’s always the question of parts.
Very incomplete painting of the Chugach range from Anchorage. Struggling with the colors, my drawing is suffering.

Very incomplete painting of the Chugach range from Anchorage. I may work on it today while the SUV is being fixed.
Jerry and Heidie Godfrey met us in Anchorage for lunch. They were on their way to Costco; we convinced them that they really wanted to go up Mt. Baldy to enjoy the perfect autumn weather. They hiked; I painted Denali.
Another unfinished painting, of Denali and Foraker from Mt. Baldy in Eagle River, AK. The midrange mudflats need to be lightened and the flank of Baldy finished.

Another unfinished painting, of Denali and Foraker from Mt. Baldy in Eagle River, AK.
Denali is 250 miles north of Anchorage as the crow flies. The mountain is less a presence than a shimmering mirage floating above the horizon. How does one paint what doesn’t even seem possible? The picture isn’t finished, but I did work out some of the light and color questions that are so different than my native northeast vistas.
On Sunday I finally admitted I was tired. After services at Eagle River Church of the Nazarene, we had a midday dinner of Alaskan salmon and halibut, caught and cooked by the Godfreys themselves. The wind blew and rain spattered. Mary did laundry and prepped road food. I did absolutely nothing.
Anchorage is a beautiful and kind city. I’ve had the opportunity to meet people, eat fantastic food and work out the kinks in my painting kit. However, I’m keenly aware that we’re imposing on others. Each day is a day closer to winter. Saturday, we scraped frost off our windshield and Eagle River saw termination dust, heralding the end of summer. Summer—especially this far north—is fleeting. The open road is calling me.

That wasn’t one of my better days

Yesterday was a mixed-weather day, alternating between a fine, misting rain and short bursts of sunlight. Autumn in Alaska is markedly advanced, although they haven’t had what they call “terminal dust” yet in Anchorage. That’s the first snow on the tops of the mountains. The aspens are gleaming yellow against the distant blue mountains, and it’s cold by Lower 48 standards. However, this year I am prepared.
We took the Suzuki out for several short jaunts around Eagle River: to buy camping equipment, to get an oil change, and to the auto-parts store for a set of universal cargo crossbars. The old-timer ran like a champ.
I audited its deficiencies in my head. There was a small chuffing sound on acceleration, but it faded quickly as the car warmed up. I bought a can of gas additive, since the car has been sitting since May. An occasional thud from the back sounded like a stiff rear spring.
There is also a small exhaust leak, and I planned to take the car to a garage in Anchorage this morning. I know the muffler shop; they fixed a sheared bolt on the same car last August. They did a good job at a fair price.
I was fighting a battle with my own impatience. All day I debated whether I should keep that appointment or just leave Anchorage at first light.

I usually paint in winter in latex gloves with chemical hand-warmers. I bought these in the fishing department, and I think they will be warmer.
This is a small SUV and we plan to sleep in it as well as work out of it. Every square inch needs to be packed intelligently. We finished this task in the late afternoon and headed to Anchorage on AK 1, Mary driving.
And that’s when all hell broke loose. The car started to misfire and decelerate. “Feel that crosswind,” my daughter said, fighting the wheel. I was baffled, because the trees were standing straight. A moment later, the rear end started swaying like an old cow.  A rear track bar had snapped.
So we sat on an expressway, surrounded by our meagre worldly goods, waiting for AAA. This morning I will go to the shop and explain my troubles. Then I’ll look for a welding fabricator to make a new track bar.

This is what we call “not good.”

I’m only a little worried. OK, I’m a lot worried.
Meanwhile, there was nothing to do but go out to Lucky Wishbone for dinner. This drive-in was founded in 1955 by George and Peggy Brown. She has since passed away; he is now in his 90s and still overseeing his establishment from a centrally-located table.
Modest in design, the place is basically unchanged except for the hundreds of old photos adorning the walls. They serve real malted milkshakes, good burgers and great fried chicken. That included giblets, which our friend promptly ordered and devoured.

Giblets to the left, other parts to the right. Delicious!

I am profoundly grateful that our breakdown happened in Anchorage, where we have friends and the city has good restaurants, garages, and mass transit. That is so much better than being stranded on the Al-Can, munching on beef jerky and praying that someone comes along who can help.

Landed in Anchorage

Approach into Anchorage.
My friend once toured Alaska in a small plane. When my daughter moved to Anchorage in 2015, this friend told her, “You’re going to the only place that isn’t beautiful!”
Nothing in Alaska is ugly, of course. Anchorage looks conceivable, which in turn seems pedestrian compared to the impossible beauty of the rest of the state. The city is situated in a basin surrounded by mountains and the sea. It’s shockingly new, because it was all leveled by the Good Friday Earthquake of 1964. But it’s graceful.

Part of us, but different.
What Alaska is, is different. I chatted with a very peaceable man last night, a pastor in a Nazarene Church outside of Anchorage. “I’d like to see when the Lower 48 comes up here to enforce gun control,” he laughed. Guns are woven into Alaska culture, and the people are scattered across an enormous body of land.
Fly from city to city in the United States and you’ll think that we’re a pretty homogenized group of people, we Americans. But get past the Big Box stores, and you’ll realize how diverse we still are. I live in a maritime village on the East Coast that is popular with tourists. Seward, AK, is about the same size and occupies a similar economic niche. The two towns are vastly different in character.

Seward may be the same size as Rockport, but it’s very different.
Our perceptions from mass media are almost always wrong. Wasilla, AK, got intense media scrutiny in 2008. I’d read about it, and seen pictures of it. But I was greatly surprised by its real presence. It’s an American suburb that looks like it could be attached to Dallas or Boston as easily as Anchorage. Yet the Wasilla hockey team raises money by having a gun show at the high school.
My pastor friend and his adult son had been out hunting caribou last weekend. No, they didn’t get anything, but “even if I don’t get a caribou, I had such a good season fishing it doesn’t matter,” the younger man told me. He’d gotten 24 salmon and two halibut. What they catch or shoot, they plan to eat.
If this shocks you, I’ll just note that it’s about a trillion times more humane than factory-raised chicken, and it’s far better for your health.

My bedside table in Anchorage.
There are signs in bear country that read something to the effect that, if you are going to shoot, you’ve probably already lost. Although a grizzly bear can weigh 600 lbs., it can also cross a clearing in seconds. I don’t have the presence of mind to test my skill against that. Heck, I don’t have the skill to test against that.

Follow my painting adventure across Canada

Last August I drove across Canada and the US to Alaska. This was not primarily a painting trip. I painted only a few watercolors from the passenger seat. However, the journey—remote, fantastical and very wild—fired a desire to do a real painting trip across Canada.

This morning I’m flying to Anchorage to start this dream painting trip. My wingman is my daughter Mary. We’ll be traveling in a fairly ancient Suzuki SUV. How this trip will pan out depends on a number of factors: the roads, the weather, and our endurance. Yes, there will be bears.

I’m bringing 65 canvases. I could finish them all, or a bear could steal my easel. There’s just no telling.

We’ll be driving the northernmost route that is possible this time of year. We have sleeping bags, winter clothes and bathing suits, just in case we find a hot spring.

I plan to post as frequently as possible, but internet is spotty way back of beyond. How can you be sure to keep up? Subscribe to my Bangor Daily News blog, and you will get my dispatches as soon as I file them.

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Did I mention there will be bears? 

Painting clouds

"Whiteface makes its own weather," by Carol L. Douglas. High contrast clouds and a flat brush imply rain.

“Whiteface makes its own weather,” by Carol L. Douglas. High contrast clouds and a flat brush imply rain.
Clouds are a terrific, rampaging part of the landscape, and often the best part of a composition. I love painting them. They seem so easy that I never figured there was much secret gnosis to painting them, any more than there is some magic trick to painting water. However, last week a reader wrote asking for tips about painting clouds, and she got me thinking about how I manage them.
Clouds have perspective, but it is upside-down from earth-bound objects. That’s because the vanishing point is the horizon, putting the farthest clouds at the bottom of the sky. While we mostly look at the tops of earthbound objects, we mostly look at the bottoms of clouds. That makes the shadow color predominant.
Altocumulus clouds over the Hudson River, by Carol L. Douglas

Altocumulus clouds over the Hudson River, by Carol L. Douglas
As with earthbound objects, there is also atmospheric perspective: clouds are generally lighter and duller at the horizon. This, however, is subject to circumstances. At dawn and dusk the horizon may be the most colorful part of the sky. A good storm turns everything on its head.

Figuring out the color of clouds is easy: there’s a color for the highlights, and a color for the shadows, and these are more or less opposite each other in color temperature. On a peaceful day, the values of shadow and highlight are almost the same. When there’s a real range in value in the clouds, you have an ominous sky.
Surf study by Carol L. Douglas

Surf study by Carol L. Douglas
Note and use the patterns of clouds, rather than randomly placing one or two clouds in the canvas. The pattern should be part of your design. White, puffy cumulus clouds often appear in repetitive patterns across the sky. Cumulonimbus clouds are towering portents of rain or worse. These are the clouds that often have dark shadows and odd coloring, for they are livid.

A mackerel sky, high in the atmosphere, is a sky knitting itself together in advance of a change in the weather. “Mares’ tails and mackerel scales make lofty ships to carry low sails,” is an acknowledgement of this phenomenon. High-atmosphere clouds have no volume. They are merely regular patterns of white against a blue sky.

Higher cirrus clouds at Olana, by Carol L. Douglas

Higher cirrus clouds (above) and cumulus clouds (horizon) at Olana, by Carol L. Douglas
I used to live in the Great Lakes region. If I looked north, I would almost always see a band of cumulus clouds low on the horizon, racing down the center of Lake Ontario. Such local weather patterns exist all over the country. They are part of the ‘sense of place’ where you live. You can’t paint them until you observe them.
How do I translate those observations onto my canvas? In practice, I mix a puddle of the shadow color of the cloud and a puddle of the light color. I race around, first with the shadow color and then with the highlight color, to create a pattern. When that is established, I used particular clouds as reference to finish the details. Since clouds constantly morph, there is no danger of repetitiveness. This is the only time I ever use straight white from the tube, for it sometimes acts as my mid-tone in clouds.
"Clouds over Hudson, NY," by Carol L. Douglas

“Clouds over Hudson, NY,” by Carol L. Douglas
What brush? As with everything else, it depends on what you are trying to say with your mark-making. A flat will convey energy. A filbert or round will allow you to be more lyrical. It’s up to you.
Dr. Albert C. Barnes, founder of the Barnes Collection, was very particular in how his paintings were hung. He believed that he could improve individual paintings’ compositions by juxtaposing paintings and furnishings in the greater space of a room. That’s pretty cheeky considering the Impressionist masterpieces he collected, but in his defense, nobody knew they were masterpieces yet.
You can use clouds in your painting to redirect the viewer in the same way. Although—like water—clouds’ patterns are usually wavelike and horizontal, there is no reason to be hidebound about that. Within the reality of their structure, you can find ways to lift and lead the viewers’ eyes.
The greatest painter of clouds alive today is the Glasgow-trained landscape artist,James Morrison. I strongly encourage you to study his paintings, to see how his clouds have volume, character and energy. They are never an afterthought in the landscape; they are a potent force within it.

How to take a day off

Low Tide, Old Orchard Beach, 8X6, by Carol L. Douglas

“Low Tide, Old Orchard Beach,” 8X6, by Carol L. Douglas
My life in the summertime consists of grueling road trips punctuated by short periods of paying bills. I live in America’s Vacationland. My career is what many people think of as a hobby. Every day should feel like a day off, right?
Most people have a structured schedule where they work a certain number of days and then have a few days off. That isn’t true for the self-employed, particularly artists who work another job to hold body and soul together. Many of us work seven days a week during the season. I’ve written before about how important it is to take a day off, but I can’t always do that on a regular basis.
People who only see me in public think I’m pretty high-key, and I am. I can work from early morning to late at night, turn out a lot of work, and chatter to passers-by at the same time. But after seven or eight days of that, I’m totally exhausted. The world starts to seem bleak. Little things irritate me. I start to develop cold symptoms as my body rebels.

"Early morning on the beach," 8X6, Carol L. Douglas

“Early morning on the beach,” 8X6, Carol L. Douglas
The first day of recuperation is horrible. I can sometimes sleep 24 hours straight. Even with that, it might take three days before my inner Imp is back, bouncing up to see what kind of trouble I can get into.
I am fully aware that this kind of hypomanic/sleep pattern could result in a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. However, I imagine this is how the human animal generally worked before he was stuffed into a cubicle for eight hours a day. Since I am not delusional, I don’t think I’ll seek treatment for it.
However, my lifestyle means I have almost no capacity for normal recreation activities. I hate shopping, eating out, and watching TV or movies. Parties make me almost insane with boredom.
This week, I’ve been sans car as our fleet of aged hoopties cycles through the local garage for their annual autumn fit-out. This has forced me into a quieter place. I have a friend taking a workshop nearby, and she’s stopped by with wine and cheese twice. I’ve spent a few evenings sitting outside contemplating the stars. I’ve walked around Rockport. It’s felt wonderful to slow right down.