Turtle Painting: Baking off the Winter Mud
(Excerpt from artist journal March 1, 2005)
It’s not really clear to me what brings the turtles up from under the mud of the river bottom for the first time. Is it temperature? Is it time? Is it light? Although it’s too early in the season to expect to see a basking turtle, the temptation of the bright sun takes me to the river…perhaps the turtles have similar temptations. The recent ice storm has changed the river bank dramatically by dropping enormous limbs across the path and into the water. The temperature, at near 40 degrees, seems comfortable enough after the last month of sub 20 degree weather. I sit on the stump of a tipped over tree and watch the brilliant reflections of clouds move across the water. Slowly, from the middle of a cloud a dome shaped mud clod emerges and begins to pull itself up on a log. The mud, of course, is caked on the shell of a turtle, possibly out of the mud for the first bask of the season. The sepia colored mud begins to lighten almost immediately in the hot sun and stiff breeze, turning the creature into a milk chocolate imitation of himself. A smaller version finds his way out of the water and begins his metabolic warm up on the log a few inches behind. The chocolate turtles sprawl, legs dangling in the sun.