Sakinaw Lake (I)

Sakinaw Lake (I): Acryclic on Paper (12″ x 14″)

I’ve been going up to Sakinaw Lake to swim, water-ski, fish, and canoe since I was first able to walk, more than fifty years ago. Our Uncle Joe Kellington, once the purchasing agent for the City of New Westminster, bought two lots up on a slight promenade jutting up above the lake and shared the place generously with his sister, my mom, and her large, boisterous family.

In the early days we had to hike in and there was only a tenting platform, but he eventually built a beautiful glass-fronted A-Frame cabin there with a deck looking right out over the pristine water.

My husband Tom and I have been going up together almost every year since we met in 1986. He almost passed out his first morning after being forced to endure the camp tradition of water-skiing before breakfast to entertain the adults.

My mother, who taught us all to swim up there, always insisted the lake was “warm as toast.” It was both family dogma and long-standing family joke. But to someone not knowing that truth, it could feel downright chilly early in the morning.

Somehow, despite almost fainting from low blood sugar, Tom survived that first exposure, and we continued visiting every summer of the twenty years we lived together in New York City, and have been lucky enough to visit almost every year since we moved back to Vancouver in 2006. Sakinaw was always the perfect antidote to New York. It was my spiritual refuge, if such a thing exists.

The lake is long and winding. The hills across are undulating to the point of seeming alive, and covered in dense evergreen forest. My Uncle Joe, who had more than a little poetry in his soul, imagined a reclining woman in those hills. I wanted to capture the energy of them and of the wind moving across the water.

There is no greater feeling of pleasure or abandon than painting outdoors, ‘en plain’ as Churchill called it. As this was. I had a huge, floppy, big-brimmed hat on and felt wonderfully painterly as I did this. Hopefully some of the pleasure I felt comes through.

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