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Signal Fire

"Signal Fire"
Image Size: 7" x 5"
Lake Superior, Ontario
"I should have packed up and gone back earlier. I've painted into the dark many times before, but this was Lake Superior, a beautiful but unpredictable place. I had come out to this island to see the sun casting a glow over the landscape just north of Old Woman Bay. When that didn't happen, I turned my attention to exploring the island itself. Camp was out of sight by this time, and as I raced against the oncoming darkness, a few magenta hues appeared above the horizon and the sun briefly poked out. It's moments like these that make working out in the field so worthwhile. Had I only taken a few photos and left, I would have missed the closing ceremony to the day. Sometimes there's a price to pay for that perfect light though. While feverishly trying to capture the fleeting scene, I hadn't noticed the fog rolling in behind me. When at last I lifted my eyes from the easel, it struck me that I had better get moving.
The canoe bobbed and surged as I plunged the paddle into the dark, rolling water. I would soon be leaving the comfort of this island shoreline to head into the foggy night, with no chance of seeing our camp on the distant shoreline. The sound of waves pounding rock resonated through my bones with each stroke, causing a heightened level of concern. Just as I began to question the wisdom of my predicament, I spotted a small orange light in the distance. Sure enough, Janet and the girls were thinking about me, and they had made a signal fire to guide me back. What a relief. It reminded me of stories I had read about the wives of sailors leaving a lantern in the window at night to guide their men home. Pulling the canoe safely ashore, I joined my family around the little fire. By the time they turned in for the night, the moon had risen and its light danced on the water through the lifting fog. As the fires embers glowed, I started this painting that will bring back memories for years to come." - Cory

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