When I woke yesterday, it was raining. I heard Sarah moving around and then smelled coffee so I got up. First thing - I checked my phone. Two texts appeared from Sarah saying she was locked out and sorry but would I please wake up and let her in. That was at 11:30pm. I ran up front. "How did you get in?"
"I pulled the mailbox off the wall and shook it upside down until the key came out," she said cheerfully. Then, "Why don't you stay another night and go to The Hirshhorn and The National Portrait Gallery since it's raining?" Now this presented a conundrum. I am on a work trip. I had intended to paint Delaware on this day. The following day is New Jersey and then I head home. But absorbing art in a museum is part of my job, right?
I decided to pack my car, leave with her and head to the National Mall on foot, perhaps driving to Bethany Beach in the afternoon. At two blocks the rain came down hard. At six, it was driving. I passed a big, clean building that said "NPR" and turned into a cafe at the next corner. After coffee and a bagel, I felt too antsy to wait for the museums to open at ten. It was 8:45 and the rain was thicker than ever.
I ran back up North Capitol towards O Street, rounded the corner and threw myself into my car. I was as wet as if I'd jumped in a lake. I changed right there and then. The windows were steamed and no one was outside anyway because of the weather. Time to head East!
I loved the drive. The further I got from DC, the less I thought of the missed opportunity and the more excited I became about the changing countryside. After crossing the huge expanse of Chesapeake Bay on a twin bridge, the land flattened and soon farms popped up with old barns and buildings. Nearer the coast, bright, colorful towns emerged. Signs announced surf shops and crab shacks. At the shore, the houses were up on stilts and pressed together, each a different color and shape. The ocean pounded the beach and its mist rose into a fog. Spectacular! but no place for an easel.
I called my friend Janet back in Michigan, in whose drive I was parked, and she directed me to some beautiful areas. Eventually, I decided on a secluded spot in Fenwick Island State Park, looking west across Little Assawoman Bay. I pulled the car right up to the water's edge on hard-packed sand. I pushed my front seat as far back as it would go and set up my watercolors. Occasionally the rain let up enough for me to roll down the window and suck in the salty breeze.
After several sketches, two paintings and any number of photos (I will use these to paint an oil in my studio), I set my sites on a city two hours north, close to the New Jersey border, and made a lovely trek up Coastal Highway 1. Today is sunny. I can see frost on my car but cold is never a deterrent. New Jersey, here I come!