Do you have any places that connect the threads of your life? A place or places that hold memories representing milestones in life, or even that has grounded you and possibly cradled your heart through tough times and good?
Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area is one such place for me. And my visits there in autumn seem a bit more sentimental than other times because they are often tied to a loose, unwritten tradition (oops – in writing now) of visiting the park with friends and family at this time of year, often over Thanksgiving weekend. Though, it is a year-round joy for me to walk these trails.
In case you’re wondering … nope: no rattlesnakes here … just rocks and trees and trails and more nature. Including some rare nature. But apparently no rattlesnakes. Atop the Niagara Escarpment – a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site. A portion of the Bruce Trail runs through the Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area, which is managed by Conservation Halton.
My visits to Rattlesnake Point began with Mom and Dad and our family dog, Dru, when we moved to the area in the mid 1970s - “Rattlesnake” was on our list of tourist attractions to visit as we got to know a bit more about our new home. Visits to the park continued with childhood, high school, and university friends, and so on, until most recently with Bob and our two dogs -- forty years (ish) after my introduction to the park.
My experiences and memories associated with this park over the years are tied to different phases or chapters in my life. And so the painting, “Turning Point,” is representative of not only a literal turning point on the path (I included the Conservation Halton and Bruce Trail trail markers to show this) as well as a change in seasons, but also represents progressions in life. My most recent life progression is a switch from a having a career in environmental science to creating art, and this painting well represents this.
Below is a brief slide show featuring the progression of my work on the painting. Before approaching the painting in my studio, I joined other members of the Burlington Fine Arts Association on a plein air painting day in October 2017. I completed a small painting study as I sat at my chosen spot, and took photographs as the time passed and light changed. I used my small painting and reference photographs back in my studio, my art lab, to compose and complete the larger painting.
Whenever I visit Rattlesnake Point, I am often reminded of different times and stages in my life. It’s good though, because no matter the circumstance, Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area was and remains a place I come to and become grounded and a little bit more peaceful and connected through nature and the magic of being in the woods.