Spring song

Local artist reveals a favourite haunt for spring painting sessions.

Spring is my favourite time of year on North Island; albeit a much more subtle spring than most of Canada, which remains locked in the arms of a frigid old man winter. We are fortunate here to have greenery around us all year. Nevertheless, it is still a thrill when the salmon-berries come into bloom and catkins, hanging from the alders, turn them a reddish brown colour, especially brilliant when juxtaposed against a background of dark evergreens.

This painting was done at Maynard Lake on one of those sunny spring days that we dream about all winter; when the world seems to come alive all at once. For those of you that don’t know Maynard, you are missing out not only on a great lake but also a wonderful area, lovely to explore, that surrounds it.

From Port McNeill, the access to this area is via Benson Main, the logging road that begins directly across the Island Highway from the Western shops and offices and continues to the left when it divides. Keogh Lake, containing Clint Beek Recreation area, is the first lake to appear on your left as you travel inland, with Angler Lake, a small gem, peeking through the trees on your right a few kms farther. Next down the road, not to be outdone, Three Isle Lake beckons you with its picnic site; a great spot for a break in a very picturesque setting.

Continuing, Benson Main cuts deeply into the cliffs on the eastern shore as it winds its way along the long and narrow Maynard Lake. There are few pull-outs until, near the end of the lake, a picnic site is positioned between the lake and the road. It is near here, in full view of a range of snow-capped peaks, that I did this painting I call “Spring Song”.

Maynard, initially just a small lake, is the enlarged result of a concrete dam that separates it from Benson Lake. High and narrow, it is an imposing site more easily viewed from above than below, since the latter perspective requires a boat ride across Benson Lake plus a walk up a boulder strewn river. To view the dam from above, turn down a small road that exits to the right, circumventing the end of Maynard, and continue down it until you get to a barricade. A short walk from there will get you to the dam.

An explorer’s dream, this area is full of lakes surrounded by snow-covered peaks. Take your partner or your family or merely a smile, plus your fishing rod, picnic basket and camera. You’ll have a hoot!

Gordon Henschel owns an art gallery in Nimpkish Heights. www.henschel.ca