The urgent cry of a young osprey is immediately recognizable, “Mom! Mom! Wait for me!!” As my Plein Air class painted from the small dock at the Crystal Lake Drive boat landing in Corvallis, we heard it several times from across the river or from above us. I kept anticipating that they would make a dive into the swift river and fly up with a fish, but eventually I decided they must be waiting for just the right moment to snatch a meal from the gravel bars mid-river. A small flock of ducks there was barely visible from my vantage point – I was glad the ospreys didn’t make their move while we were there! A slow parade of boaters came and went on the ramp, yanking on starter cords of old outboard motors, one carrying a bow with arrows tied with fishing line for hunting carp. An otter was sighted briefly – or maybe it was a nutria, hard to tell.
When we arrived at 5:30 p.m., the sky was overcast, the light was flat, the river was a dull brownish green, and I was thinking to myself that it wasn’t the most dazzling spot for painting. But as the evening progressed, the mood changed dramatically. The cottonwood trees began to quiver, it rained a bit off and on for a few minutes. The clouds above us gradually parted, emerald trees glistened in front of black thunderclouds to the east, the river shifted between blues and greens and silver. It was impossible to figure out where to look, what to paint. Was it Buddha who said, “Change is inevitable. Get over it.”? As we propped up our work for a critique session at 8:00 p.m., a rainbow shone above us in the gathering dusk. Just another glorious August evening on the Willamette River!