Plans derailed

I want to roam, but I don’t want to be a stupid American who gets into trouble with the military authorities.
Southern Beech, by Carol L. Douglas, 9X12, available.

Yesterday’s plans to hike along the Rio Electrico were derailed. The Army is making rounds, checking the hosterias in the area to verify that travelers are maintaining quarantine. Even though we would still be a self-contained group, it was thought that it would be better if we were not gallivanting around as a group. “I think it’s best if we keep our profile low,” said Jane Chapin.

Alexander is married to artist Natalia Andreeva. He’s not a painter, but is a dedicated hiker. Yesterday, he decided that the best way to get his exercise was to walk up and down the drive. That way, he’d see the soldiers when they arrive. Born in the Soviet Union, he has a healthy respect for the Army. I am listening to him.
We native-born Americans are cheerfully ignorant of the power of the military in other parts of the world. Our army doesn’t maneuver on domestic soil, we have no checkpoints, and people are constitutionally secure in their own homes. This crisis has reminded me of just how fragile that social contract is. Just as we experienced an erosion of personal liberty after 9/11, we may face a similar erosion from coronavirus. It’s up to us to be vigilant.
There were rocks in that large satchel, but it still didn’t stop my easel from going over.
In the Arctic and subpolar Canada, wind was my greatest enemy. It’s true here as well. My tough little pochade box blew down three times, despite being tethered with rocks. The first time, it wiped out my brush roll. The second time, my wash tank. The third time, it did me in, and I quit. By then, it was lashing rain anyway.
Being grounded to the immediate environs of the hosteria, I decided to paint the scrubby beech trees. Nothofagus pumilla is the predominant tree cover in this southern polar region, as common here as spruces in the North American taiga. These southern beeches have tiny serrated leaves that mimic their northern cousins. There any similarity with our northern beeches ends. The mature trees have deeply-grooved bark and are twisted and bent by the constant winds.
The leaves of the Southern Beech are about the only thing that resembles the beeches of the Northern Hemisphere.
Berberis microphylla, or barberry, grows wild. It’s known here as calafate, giving its name to the town. The berries of the local variety are edible. Legend has it that eating one assures you a return trip to Patagonia. Sadly, they’re out of season.
I’ve been carefree through this whole venture. Yesterday, I realized I was approaching my first real crisis. I brought 24 boards with me—two for each of ten painting days, and four spares. With the extension of our trip, I’m suddenly left with a shortage of painting surfaces. Typically, I bring too many boards, so rationing painting boards is new territory to me.
Rain, by Carol L. Douglas, 8X10, available.
Perhaps the Army will come today. After all, they have a huge range of territory to patrol. Meanwhile, we feel our range steadily contracting. First, we were limited to the country, then the province, then the town, then our hosteria and its grounds. Will we be limited to indoors next? Our rooms? Whatever happens, we’ll roll with it. In a constantly-changing situation, it’s best to be flexible.