Night Shift

Plein air colored pencil by Lenee Cobb

We’re camped at a place called Graves Creek. It’s midnight. The lantern glow and diminishing campfire flames, the nearby rush of river with rising shadows of mountains I can barely discern above silhouetted tree tops, and the oxygen-rich air of this rain-forest valley conspire to keep me awake by offering me an experience too wonderful to miss should I sleep.

A Lunar moth with a body the size of cigar, its wings spanning at least six inches, flutters, heavily, to the lantern light.  It bounces against the lantern base, bumps the cedar tree, and then, with wobbling flight, continues its course through the forest. A pair of miniature eyes glow red from high inside the leafy branches of a maple tree.

I put another log on the fire; pour welcomed coffee into my coffee cup, adding some creamer, then move the pot closer to the edge of the rack so its handle won’t get burned. Then I grab my day-pack from within the tent, careful not to wake sleepers. I lug my mug and pack across the site, stepping over exposed roots, to the old wooden folding director’s chair.

I place the pack on the ground and bring the mug to my lips, blow gently over the liquid, and slowly sip, for nothing is hotter than camp coffee.

A little mouse watches me from within a dark hole inside the tree trunk to my right, his whiskers twitching, ears alert to everything. After a while, he scurries past my feet to investigate a drying pinecone beneath a clump of salal.

I cannot allow these moments to slip by unappreciated. I put my mug down onto the coolers flat lid.

I unzip my pack and pull out my sketch book and my gray plastic clipboard-compartment case. Inside the case resides my collection of stubby colored pencils. I decide to begin with gray. I place the case on my lap and clip the sketchbook onto it.

While others sleep, my fingers keep busy. My eyes study, soaking it all in, attempting to capture what can never be captured because the experience is so much more.

And there, lest I forget, there is the twelve-cupper antique coffee maker I’d discovered, pre-dented, on the bottom shelf of a second hand store, my cherished partner in work on this night, and many others. Without my secondhand friend I might have missed this experience. Therefore I conclude: Art is what happens when imagination, situation, and means percolate.

The above blog post was created in response to The Daily Post one-word prompt: Percolate.

Please let me know what you think.



4 thoughts on “Night Shift

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