North Channel from Knockinaam Lodge Hotel, Scotland
We drove our car from the narrow pea-gravel road out onto a knoll bordered on three sides by granite boulders. Marilyn and I set up our easels and with our car doors open, we could listen to Irish radio. We were not in Ireland; however, we were painting on the Mull of Galloway, the southernmost point in Scotland. Only 20 miles across the Irish Sea, Northern Ireland crouched blue-gray and out of focus.
Tourist books tell you that the Isle of Man is visible from this rocky, desolate bit of Scotland, but certainly not on the day that we decided to paint the wave-washed walls of stone along these shores. We were kitted out in yellow slicker suits, such was the mood of the weather. As we painted, the sun would mysteriously appear through thin clouds which changed from gray to mayonnaise. Gradually the sun would fade as the clouds darkened and the wind rose.
On several occasions the mist turned to rain, and we retreated to the car, scattering the more than a million hares that owned this bleak head. These creatures were as plentiful as squirrels and just as cheeky. I thought of my Mennonite friend who dealt with the question of beer-making. “To make the best beer,” he said, “follow a rabbit for a mile and collect the hops.” These umber-coloured critters were cat-sized and incredibly nimble, and we were miles away from any pub.
When the rain stopped, we returned to our overturned acrylic paintings and continued. To our left, we could see layers of weather heading our way with clouds separated by sky-blue, like filling in a layer cake. Only later did I realize what a mistake I had made in not collecting a few of those jumping jacks that had watched us paint. Clearly I can use all the hares I can get.