The Alaska art print “River at Dusk” came to be in Gustavus, Alaska, near my home on the Salmon River.  Our place is about a quarter mile from the beach as the crow flies, close enough for the tidal influence to be watched daily as the water level rises and falls, rises and falls, up to a 20 foot differential on the most extreme tides. At its mouth just west of the Gustavus Dock, the Salmon River empties into Icy Strait, a body of water serving as the northern entrance to the Alexander Archipelago, also known as Alaska’s Inside Passage.  The intertidal zone provides a nutrient-rich environment for all manner of birds and animals.

Here is the story behind the image:  I’m out in the meadow by the river, taking some time to enjoy a mostly clear sky day.  The low angle of the sun in winter means a soft color palette that never fails to inspire me to slow down and experience the simple peace and beauty of the world outside my door. It’s pure luck that the high tide today falls mid-afternoon, as the sun is going down. Sky colors are reflected in the glassy surface of the river water, and then fade into blue light and shadows cast by the trees on the riverbank. There’s a skim of ice formed in the recent cold snap, and the river curves away downstream, giving me a view of the forest edge. I can just see a bit of Chichagof Island away across the strait. The tall cottonwood on the right serves as a fine eagle perch.

As I work with the image back inside the warm house, I’m struck first by the curve of the snowy riverbank in the foreground, then the slant of the tree silhouettes back again from right to left. I notice how it leads the eye along the course of the river, and mimics its flow.  I’ve heard it said you can’t push the river, and this image speaks to the alternative of that desire, the wisdom of going with the flow.

The quiet river scene seems a fitting image to call to mind the observance of this midwinter season, as we are this week now halfway between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. From what I’ve read, most ancient peoples connected with natural cycles as a matter of survival, marking the shift in weather and various life activities with ritual and celebration.  There are many names for this particular point on the great wheel of the year, including Candlemas, Imbolc, Lunar New Year, Festival of Brigid and of course, Groundhog Day. Now as we crawl up out of our dens and caves and burrows, blinking in the growing light, we know by our internal clocks it’s time to leave the deep dreamtime and begin preparations for new life and the springtime to come.

Winter Scene Alaskan Wall Artwork by Alaskan Artist Lillian Ruedrich.  Love this print? Click here to purchase it now.  Enjoy it as a 5X7 blank notecard or 11X14 matted giclee print.