Monday, January 6, 2014

Visiting My Painting on Vancouver Island

rainforest behind Anne's house
When artist Anne Moody invited me to her place on Vancouver Island “to visit my painting”, I jumped at the chance.

Anne is a gifted artist whose works have graced the covers of several Starfire/Pixl Press books. “My Painting” illustrates the cover of my first short story collection about evolution and technology: “NaturalSelection”. The painting, aptly named “Mere Tranquility”, sits on the mantle of Anne’s inner room fireplace, looking very comfortable, despite the fact that I consider it mine. It was a gestalt Zen moment for me to stand there, gazing at the painting on the mantle and then to the book Natural Selection in my hand with the image of the painting on the cover. All rather pleasing, somewhat otherworldly, fractal and transcending.
Salt water marsh of Witty's Lagoon

Visiting my painting came with a lot of perks. I had the chance to visit Anne and husband Bob in their lovely home, nestled in the west coast rainforest of Metchosin, just minutes from the Pacific Ocean and a 30 minute drive from Victoria. Their property backs onto a lush grotto of cedar, Douglas fir, hemlock, yew, Oregon grape and sword fern. Their dog Siko loves to roam there. Maya, their stunning grey cat, prefers to hunt indoors, chasing my crumpled pieces of paper.

It’s a good life.

Arbutus tree
We sat over good food and wine well into the night, discussing art, ecology and animal behavior (we’re all biologists), why some people live in Toronto and climate change.

The second day I was there, Anne and I took our cameras and walked part of the Lagoon Trail of Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park. We entered the 56-hectare park from the Tower Point entrance via Olympic View Drive and Anne showed me her favorite plein air painting places.

The park encompasses several protected ecosystems including tidal lagoon, sandy beach, rocky shore, and mixed woodland. The regional park is home to an impressive and diverse fauna and flora that supported over 160 documented species.
Salt water marsh of Witty's Lagoon
It was a bracing day. The cool sea breeze brought the scent of forest and loam. We took Siko along and covered several ecosystems in our walk. It started with open salt marsh, overlooked by the fiery orange and green Arbutus and gnarly Garry Oak on the rocks. We then plunged into the darker, “cooler” greens of mixed coniferous forest of Douglas fir, yew, and cedar. The spicy sea air gave way to the fresh dank smells of fresh loam, moss and fern.

This is a great place to bird watch. We heard the haunting shrill of an eagle flying overheard. The tidal flats bring in the Great Blue Heron and the Western Sandpiper. The deeper forest is home to the Belted Kingfisher, warblers, juncos and many more songbirds.

The invigorating walk ended with an elegant meal (Anne keeps a fresh organic garden complete with two types of kale). The first course was a Tuscan soup in a tomato broth, with kale, beans, potato with homemade and smoked Andouille sausage.  That was followed by a barbecued Coho salmon, wild rice cakes, and creamed spinach laced with Pernod—sorry Anne! The secret’s out! It was delicious!

I ended the meal with a Maker’s Mark single barrel Bourbon. Since visiting Louisville KY and the Kentucky Derby with friend Toulouse LeTrek, I’ve been a Bourbon-gal.

Thanks, Anne and Bob!

Oh, and please keep “My Painting” safe… until next time I come to visit it...

Best Wishes Everyone for a very Happy New Year!

Nina Munteanu is an ecologist and internationally published author of novels, short stories and essays. She coaches writers and teaches writing at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. For more about Nina’s coaching & workshops visit Visit for more about her writing.

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