First Snow

First Snow, Kane County, Illinois – Pencil and opaque watercolor – 16 x 22 inches.

The undulating hills of Kane County spread out over 500 or so square miles to the west of Chicago, and they share the same weather patterns as the city: hot and humid summers, brutally cold winters. Perhaps I should have said, “used to share,” because global warming changes have affected local weather patterns in unpredictable ways, no matter where you happen to be. However, I imagine Chicago and Kane County still share at least one thing in common: growth.

What captured my imagination years ago when I painted this image, were the shapes of the fields and rich black dirt, two ravens flying west, patterns of newly-fallen snow, and clouds massing on the horizon for another storm. Most of the animals that used to live there — rabbits, foxes, squirrels and pheasants, for example, aren’t visible in the painting. But in the distance you can see tiny, mechanical, rectangular shapes, like little teeth. At the time, they were the edges of waves of housing developments that spread relentlessly over the hillsides of “greater Chicagoland,” as it was often called.

As a boy, I sometimes wandered over those fields. For many years I haven’t wanted to return to them again, to paint them. Probably this is fear that they no longer exist.

2 thoughts to “First Snow”

  1. Great memories, Mike. From one who has moved many times, I am constantly reminded of that expression, “You can’t go home again.” And for the same reason: the places and geography of earlier years have given over to what is called “Progress.” It’s comforting to see that you’ve captured some of those recollections. Wonderful painting.

    1. Thanks for the thoughtful words, Ron. And please forgive my taking so long to reply to you. The holidays, as peaceful as they were, definitely got in the way of my correspondence, and I’m only now beginning to catch up.

      In one of his songs, Dylan sings, “You can go back home, but you can’t go back all the way . . . .” Same difference, I guess, when it comes to moving back into the past. I suppose that’s part of why I painted the image in the first place. (And I imagine that similar emotion may have played a part in your decision to write your book.) In any case, memories survive, as they should, as parts of the greater fabric of our lives and I’m glad we’re still here above ground to enjoy them.

      I hope all goes well for you and Lyn and for the rest of your family. Connie and I (and Daisy the Wonder Dog) send you best wishes for a grand new 2023.

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