Fountain and Story Chapel

This past week has been blistering hot in New England, with a string of 90-degree days. Although I don’t mind walking in rain, snow, or freezing cold, hot and humid days sap both my energy and resolve. Although my spirit longs to be walking, my body craves coolness, so I tend to lie low during heat waves, spending too much time inside, all but imprisoned in the two rooms where we have window air conditioners: a self-imposed exile.

Beloved daughter Maria

On Wednesday evening, however, I ventured out in search of shade, meeting a friend at Mount Auburn Cemetery for a sketch-stroll. Sketching is a slow, sedentary activity that works well on hot days, at least once you’ve found a shady spot with a breeze. In a woodsy cemetery like Mount Auburn, there are plenty of trees and quiet, secluded nooks where you can sit and serenely sweat. With no hurry to be much of anywhere, you can walk slowly, staring at stones and eschewing sunny spots. With nothing but a pencil, sketchbook, and random snippets of quiet conversation to entertain you, you can slow and sooth your heat-addled senses.

Celtic cross

After sitting for about an hour with our sketchbooks, my friend and I headed back to the cemetery gate, walking slowly. I had left a bottle of water in my car, but I knew it would be hot by the time we got there, so when one of Mount Auburn’s security guards drove by in his truck and offered ice-cold bottles of spring water—leftover refreshments from an early evening tree walk—I was happy to accept. At the still-hot end of a sweltering day, the only thing more refreshing than sitting a spell in the shade is gulping down a bottle of ice-cold goodness.

Click here for a photo-set from Wednesday’s cemetery stroll, including snapshots of the three sketches I made. Enjoy!

Two views

On Saturday, A (not her real initial) and I went walking at the Minute Man National Historical Park in Lincoln, MA, sketchbooks in hand. Although both A and I were looking at the same pastoral landscape, our views are slightly different: A drew in pen and captured the architectural nuances of the Captain William Smith house, and I used a mechanical pencil to capture the larger landscape with its stone wall, fringe of forest, and scrubby burdock.

Neither sketch captures the afternoon’s brisk temperature, the smattering of raindrops that pelted the page as we began to draw, the red-tailed hawk that zoomed past as we stood motionless, or the steady parade of families with toddlers, baby strollers, and inquisitive dogs that passed us. Regardless of which drawing you prefer, either one offers more warmth and personality than a pixel-perfect photograph of the same scene.

Captain William Smith House