We were met with heavy rain and wind when we arrived at the Arizona Nordic Village cabin in early December. My goal to paint the snow season was on hold. As the night progressed, the wind refused to back down. I went out of the cabin with a small hatchet to chop fire wood, and I could see massive pine trees warping in the wind. Words like “widow maker” and images of trees falling on the small cabin flashed into my anxious mind. In spite of the fear I noticed small flurries and hoped that this was a positive sign of things to come. Returning to the safety of the cabin — and aided by fire starter — I built a fire in the wood stove, cracked open a 55-calorie beer, and wondered if we came up north too early. I went to bed that night in a sweat from the poorly-regulated wood stove and listened as the tree branches scraped against our small shelter.
The next morning I woke up to a thin white blanket on the ground. I was pleasantly surprised that there would be something to paint. I grabbed my camera and walked the property. Downed aspen trees littered empty ski trails. The snow the Nordic Village depends on had yet to come. Yet it was a quiet place for an artist, an individual who would describe the moment of transition between the frosting of the late fall and the abundant snow of the ski season.
I returned to the cabin to get a small bite of vegan protein and headed back out to paint. I found a trail leading to a distant mountain. The temperature was near 20 degrees, and I set up to paint!