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I’ve been doing a lot of drawing during this vacation. Everything we see is so beautiful. Sometimes I draw from life, in this case trying to squeeze in a recognizable sketch of the resident dog at the Bundy Museum, a lovely gallery in Warren, Vermont, before he moved again.

And I’ve taken lots of reference photos of water, since it confounds me by moving constantly, and erosion, which does hold still but where I might not be able to stay long enough to give the drawing the time I want. I felt like I was getting the hang of it with this drawing of fairly still water, the pond in the Boston Public Garden.

At the pond in the Public Garden, Boston
Brook through Warren, VT

But with running water, which I love so much, I made a note that I should try it as a painting, so as to put the swathes of darker and lighter shades in first and then go on to the detail. It was fun to try drawing this brook, though.

Lands End, Bailey Island, Harpswell, Maine

This is a first try at an erosion pattern I love, rock worn by water. I stopped when I couldn’t stand sitting on the rock any longer, but I have lots of photos and will draw some more.

Pavilion roof on the Waterbury, VT, town green

This building stayed obligingly put (though clouds kept changing the light), but I had to leave when I was only about one-third done, so I took a photo in order to keep working. Today I finished it.

As a Californian-by-adoption, I am sorry to say this, but I have never been able to find a soft-serve place in California that knows how to put sprinkles on a cone. I have not given up without a struggle. The resulting conversations tend to go like this.

Me: Small chocolate soft-serve on a regular cone, please. And could I have sprinkles on that?

Them: If you have it in a cup, yes.

Me: I’d like a cone and sprinkles. They’ll stick if you roll the cone in them.

Them, with an expression suggesting my sanity is in doubt: Ohhhkay. I could put them on top.

(They spoon some sprinkles over the cone. Predictably, only about ten stick.)

Them: Is this what you wanted?

Me, sighing: No, you have to roll it, but thanks.

Or:

Me: Small chocolate soft-serve on a regular cone, please. And could I have sprinkles on that?

Them: If you have it in a cup, yes.

Me: I’d like a cone and sprinkles. They’ll stick if you roll the cone in them.

Them: Here, I can give you both.

(They fill the cup with soft-serve and spoon a generous helping of sprinkles on top, then stick a cone on upside-down.)

Them: How’s that?

Vermont knows how. Connecticut knows how. New Jersey knows how. Come on, California, you can’t let yourself fall behind this way!

Me, grimacing internally: Thanks.

(I dispose of the cone at the first opportunity, because let’s admit it, they’re made of styrofoam and if unable to carry out their only purpose, which is to contain soft-serve, they might as well go straight to the compost pile.)

Or:

Me: Small chocolate soft-serve on a regular cone, please. And could I have sprinkles on that?

Them, definitely assessing me as cognitively challenged: Um . . . no, but you could have dip.

(I consider leaping over the counter and showing them how it’s done. Instead, I assent to dip.)

What I have said only once or twice, not wanting to begin a civil war, is that in the northeast, people know how to coat a cone in sprinkles. The gravity is the same in both places, so I’m sure all that is lacking in the California shops is confidence and know-how. As a result, our entire state population is deprived of one of the great pleasures of summer: being handed a cone loaded with sprinkles and taking in a mouthful of sprinkle-coated ice cream. As I am about to do in this photo, taken a few days ago in Vermont.

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