December 07,2019



One mile from the quarry guard cabin stood a mesa. I decided London and I would climb the mesa and have our Christmas lunch high above the desert floor.

            The climb up, although strenuous, was an exhilarating Christmas morning’s entertainment. At the top of the mesa I sat down with my legs dangling over the edge, feeling the rare noontime breeze against my skin. While London stood at the edge, head low, reaching out and panting as he gazed at this new perspective of our abode. We ravenously attacked our lunch — peanut butter sandwiches, Pepsi and water. London gratefully allowed me to direct a squeeze of bottled water into his mouth and I treasured and savoured every gulp of a Pepsi.

            I settled, as had London, to rest and to enjoy the vista below. I felt if I gazed long enough and hard enough, I would see the mighty Geronimo walking below . . . .

            What an ideal place the mesa would be for a puma or a javalina family, I thought. Then I realized, it could be, and it probably was!

            We were incapable of quickly scrambling down the mountain if we were threatened by local wildlife. It had taken hours testing routes climbing up, and going down would have to be one step and one hand hold at a time. For London, it would involve clawing his hold over every rock he crossed and sliding between them. Those realizations suppressed the urge to explore the mesa top, and we headed for home.

           Two thirds of the way down I saw below us, amid the cholla, London’s herd of cattle and their bull waiting for retribution. I assumed since London had chased his “girls,” El Toro was now waiting to even the score. He would chase London’s “girl” — ME!

            I plunked down to think and jammed my feet between the rocks. London braced his four legs in random directions with all twenty claws dug into solid stone.

            With a puma due to attack any minute from above, an incensed bull waiting below to play “Pamplona,” incidental hazards like rattlesnakes, who would leave the shade of the rocks as the sun began to set, and small annoyances, like scorpions and tarantulas who could crawl over me faster than I could crawl over the next rock, I decided to keep working my way down, sit just high enough to be safe from El Toro, and then wait him out!.

            We sat in open sunshine on hot rocks and looked with longing at the shadows cast by saguaros, mesquite and palo verde. I stared across the desert to my butte thinking of London’s water bucket and my Pepsi cans floating in ice water.

            My legs were tired, and I could see Ludwig in the distance, parked atop my butte. How wonderful it would be if he was right below us, soft seats, gore proof protection and a powerful engine to carry us safely home to the trailer.

            “El Toro” succeeded in terrifying me just by his proximity, occasional snort, hostile gaze and impatient pawing of the ground. As a young woman visiting Mexico, I had attended enough bullfights to recognize “bull threat.” I was sure he could not maneuver the rocks up to us, but might he pretend to leave and instead hide somewhere? Then, while we were crossing the open cholla flat below my butte . . . ?

            After the sunset, in the short afterglow, I realized the “Girls” were moving south. Reluctantly “El Toro” followed.

            London and I climbed down the rocks, while we could still see, and headed toward home.

            As we hurried along I remembered a book I had purchased for my children when they were young. It showed the many critters and varmints that prowl the desert at night. I decided to trust London’s senses and instincts and closely follow him home.

            We reached the base of the butte and dragged ourselves up to the trailer. I called a thank you to the moon for the blessed light it had given us.

            While London ran to his water bucket full of still warm water, I flung open the trailer door and the ice box, plunged my hand into the cool water grabbed a Pepsi and then collapsed into the softness of bed at seven P.M.

            At three A.M. I was awake and frying a festive pan of potatoes, onions and eggs for us, while London stared intently up at me salivating and swallowing.

            “Merry Christmas London.”

Posted by Charlotte Madison at 01:05
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January, 2020
For over forty years, painting related totally to the American Southwest. It was people of the dry hot desert, solid mesas, cacti, stone and canyons that made my heart leap.

When I realized I would never see the desert again, I began a search for something to paint. Nana suggested, B.C, vineyards and took me to Penticton where I did one painting. Nana and Gary then began to take me on Mystery tours of the island and always included a vineyard. But they all were so green! So many leaves so many trees - I don't do trees and I rarely use green - dont really like looking at green, but I got started on a duty series not an inspired series.

I guess it was July or early August when we were driving home from a winery visit. I was grousing about painting the Festive Flying Grape series when Gary said "Start another series, you can work on more than one at a time."

For some reason those words triggered the words "I could paint the Island artists!" Nana and Gary agreed and it was the topic of conversation all the way home

For a while I was afraid I wouldn't get volunteers to pose but it is rolling and each one offers something special to inspire me. And it is lovely to feel all I am doing was sparked by Gary and like all I do, supported by Nana.

April Update 2012 Sixteen fine artists, many of national repute, have posed for Artists of Vancouver Island and many are booked or promised. There will be no poses after June 30,2012. When I have painted all twenty-five I will turn my thought to . . . what next?