Beach ParadeBeach Parade

Ah, an afternoon at the beach. Can’t you just feel the sun warming your shoulders, as your feet relish the sand and the water that never really warms up? I saw this trio the last time I had my daughter at the beach at Fort Sheridan. I really liked the dog leading the parade with his big stick, just like a parade marshal should. The graceful way the mom moves between the child and the dog, linking them. The adorable child, concentrating as she navigates the waves and sand and rocks along the shore. I painted this very loosely, to suggest the casualness of a summer afternoon, and used saturated colors to capture the bright sunshine. It was a bit turbulent in the water that day, so I had a wonderful time with color and brushstroke to suggest that.

This is a place on the shore of Lake Michigan that has a rich history. It was a military fort for a long time~there are photos of soldiers in the water with their cavalry horses dating back to the civil war. The area was closed to the public right after the afternoon in question. The Lake County Forest Preserve and the Corps of Engineers are working together to stabilize the shoreline and the ravines that terminate at the shore. You may remember Ray Bradbury talking about ravines in his wonderful book, “Dandelion Wine”. His ravines are from Waukegan, a bit to the north of the ones at Fort Sheridan. Stabilizing them is a tricky balance, because they are home to unique suites of plants that actually need erosion to thrive. Too much erosion from above, from home building, for example, will of course sweep away the whole thing. Too little and the plants will begin to die.

You may be wondering why I started talking about ravines when this is clearly a beach painting… 🙂 The thing is, it is all connected, all part of the same system. A thriving shoreline helps keep the Lake healthy and clean. Involving the nearby homeowners gives them a sense of connection, too, helping them understand how their actions affect the whole. The beach isn’t just a place to spend the day. It is part of their home.

 

 

29 Comments

    1. It would be a long trip, wouldn’t it? My brother-in-law was just sent to Australia on a business trip and was wishing he could go to New Zealand. I just don’t know whether I could handle the flight but I dream of seeing your haunts.

      1. Teehee. Not too crowded but it’s the Trump supporters who have their bolt holes here who bother me the most! Well the idea of the bolt holes bothers me. I haven’t seen the actual people.

  1. The dog is the star. On my regular walk I often pass 2 dogs who carry a stick together. It always makes me smile. The notion of connectedness is so important. Often we don’t understand or perceive the links so it’s good if the erosion is being dealt with sympathetically.

  2. Dogs with their sticks are definitely smile-bringers, aren’t they?
    Yes it is true that often the links are not always evident, and when we try to “fix” things we can end up breaking them instead.

  3. I love visiting your site Melissa; the writing that accompanies your paintings adds another dimension, which really enhances the viewer’s experience.

    When most people admire a painting in a gallery or museum, there is usually very little information about where it was painted or the thoughts of the painter at the time.
    Thank you
    Best Wishes
    Kevin

  4. Thank you for your kind words, Kevin. I really appreciate your feedback~I often wonder whether “I’m doing it right”! You’ve made me feel that perhaps I am. Connecting with people here has been so rewarding. More so than I expected. Have you found that to be the case as well?

  5. From looking at the map just now, I think we must have driven through the town of Fort Sheridan once or twice on our way to and from Chicago. We stopped at the Baha’i Temple about 6 miles south of there.

  6. You probably did drive past there. The old fort area with all the military housing has been converted to extremely large, extremely expensive housing. It’s all very posh and exclusive. I feel funny even driving through it to get to the ravine and beach area.
    The temple is memorable, isn’t it? I haven’t been there for a number of years but I really thought it was something special.

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