Up in Muskoka A pupil of the Group of Seven painted this lakeside landscape on Bristol board the size of a letter pad. Early autumn, green leaves fading to orange on the scrawny birch, lake water still and pale as if already half frozen. Fine brush strokes outline grass and twigs but darkened daubs on trunks suggest the bark has been stripped by harsh weather or children wandering far from homes the artist did not care to paint in. A narrow brownish strip at the bottom must be the road that brought her here and before the light changes and more leaves fall will speed her away again to the house where on wintry afternoons a boy who would become my father came to see her work. He knew this place, this lakeside where the poplar leaned, and the painter must have seen in his face what art can do, what he wanted – not to own or even make a picture but to keep that place with him wherever he went, to hold a day so it never turned dark, irreclaimable. The leaves about to fall resemble distant birds.
© Colin Morton