Today was a driving day. Some are painting, some travel. I thought a lot about Minnesota, the state I was leaving. My first day there I visited one of my two best friends from high school (my other best is her twin) in Minneapolis. It is a clean city, a young city, a healthy one. As we walked around the lake nearest her home, droves of fit people ran and roller-skied by. Trees line the streets and there is a park every 6 blocks. The city is so progressive that they even recycle compost. Honest. That night we had a simple dinner of salmon and fresh farmers market potatoes and beans laced with the most delicious sauce I've ever eaten, something that started with a white wine reduction.
The next day I jumped in my car after a succulent breakfast out with the family. After 2 1/2 hours, I checked in to a nondescript hotel in Duluth, then drove partway up the north coast of Lake Superior, looking for inspiration. It is a luxury to have a day of reconnaissance.
On Sunday I got up early and again took Highway 61 up the coast. I drove almost the whole length, not quite to Grand Marais, before I stopped for coffee and advice. The amiable Minnesotan suggested Palisades Head, where I found cliffs high above the lake, waves breaking on rocks far below. I painted there for four hours. I have never met more interested and polite people in one place. There were couples and families and rock repellers and each person was more thoughtful and friendly than the one before.
It can be hard to start a painting with onlookers. I dove in determinedly, inspired by the clear color and big shapes. Time melted away and I packed up late in the day when the sun came out, revealing shadows heretofore hidden.
So now I am in the land of giant sky. The birches and pines of Northern Minnesota gave way to the wide open plains, remaining trees tugging on the ground, hanging on in stripes along the soybean fields. I told the gas station girl outside of Fargo that I had never been to North Dakota and that I was excited. She looked at me without smiling and said, "Don't die from boredom."