Early Spring on Beech Hill

Early Spring on Beech Hill, oil on canvasboard, Carol L. Douglas, 12X16, $1449 framed includes shipping in continental US.

I climb up Beech Hill every day when I’m at home. It’s not very tall, just 533 feet above sea level, but that is set against the fact that I’m starting at 87 feet above sea level. I like this hike better in the summer, when warm breezes caress my face. I can watch the to-and-fro of sailboats from Rockland harbor and the margins of the blueberry barrens are a panoply of wildflowers. Midwinter isn’t quite as nice, although it is largely free of casual amblers. For the past two days it’s been cold and blustery, with gusts up to 45 MPH.

The path is somewhat protected until you come around the hill to the final rise and there, you’re almost blown off your feet. That’s an improvement over some winters, when the wind has sculpted hip-high drifts with the consistency of concrete.

The other approach to Beech Hill is somewhat steeper.

On a glorious summer morning we will amble but these frigid winter temperatures make us hurry. We’re also in training to ramble in the Yorkshire Dales in May. Our best times for the 4.5-mile hike are just scant of 1:30:00; after that I must break into a jog-trot on the downhill slopes. However, yesterday we brought it in at 1:29:23. You might not be impressed, but that’s not bad for two senior citizens wearing crampons and skidding on ice. Excuse our short victory dance.

I have many friendships that begin and end on that trail. We might stop and chat or just call out “good morning” as we sail by, but this time of year, the only people who are hiking are the true stalwarts. Yesterday, I saw Candace Kuchinski from the windjammer Angelique. She was out with her dog Nicki. “I have a painting of your boat on my easel,” I told her. I love living in a small town.

Beautiful summer day on Beech Hill.

People who don’t live in the north don’t realize how much color there is in a winter’s day, especially at the tail end of the season. The plants start to respond to the longer days and warmer sunlight. Early Spring, Beech Hill is all about that subtle color.

The sod-roofed stone hut at the top was built in 1913-15 by Hans Heisted, a Norwegian immigrant. It was an American-style folly, designed for summer picnics for a wealthy local family. (When the trees are bare, you can just make out a stone well house in the same style on the south slope, but don’t wander down there-that part of the woods is home to porcupines and coyotes.) Its verandah faces the sea, and the short version is a popular tourist hike in summer. In early morning, in early spring, all creation is laid out below you. But my favorite view of it is as you come around the bend and see it peeking over the blueberry barrens, just as I painted it.

Beech Nut in the fog.

Today, Beech Hill Preserve is managed by Coastal Mountains Land Trust, making it accessible to all.

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3 Replies to “Early Spring on Beech Hill”

  1. Love your “Early Spring on Beech Hill”. Even more for having seen the location in person! You captured the subtle beauty so well.

    My opinion the bright gold frame is wrong for it – overpowering your gorgeous work. I’d say use white.

  2. I love, love, love your “Early Morning on Beech Hill”! Beech Hill also happens to be one of my favorite places, and you captured it beautifully.

  3. I am so thankful to have hiked here with you and seen the spot where you created the painting I now own. i hope we can come again when wildflowers are in bloom, maybe even paint there! (hey diane, right???….!)

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