From the window of the upstairs guest room — my writing place — in our hillside home in South Royalton, Vermont, I look out over our field and trees to the rolling hills on the horizon. The view constantly changes, light and shadows flowing with the movement of sun and clouds across the sky as the day progresses from twilight to dusk.
From the window of the upstairs guest room on Wagon Wheels Farm, Edward and Jo Hopper looked out over another South Royalton hill — Jigger Hill, or “Bob Slater’s Hill,” as Edward dubbed it. He recorded his fascination with the changing light and shadows in a watercolor, a striking study of contrasting views, near and far.
Edward Hopper, Bob Slater’s Hill, 1938. Watercolor on paper, 13-1/2 x 19-1/2″. Huntington Museum of Art, West Virginia. Gift of Ruth Woods Dayton, 11967.1.132.
Artist Philip Koch wrote a wonderful blog piece about this painting. I’m convinced that Philip is able to channel Hopper, and so I urge you to read his insightful observations; click here and scroll down to “Hopper the Activist.” (Also take this opportunity to look at Philip’s own extraordinary work, Hopper-related and otherwise.)
In Bob Slater’s Hill and others of the Vermont watercolors, Hopper captured the particular shade of yellowish-green that’s a harbinger of fall in Vermont. It’s a fleeting hue, and I’ve not yet been able to get it with my camera, despite many autumn treks to Hopper’s viewpoint. I’m always a bit too early (the hillside’s still green) or a bit too late (the hue is moving toward full-fledged-fall color). My latest attempt is close, though. This was taken on September 23, just about 75 years to the day since Hopper last gazed upon Bob Slater’s hill.
Jigger Hill, South Royalton, Vermont. Photo by
Bonnie Tocher Clause, September 2013.
This time of year the nights are cool and frosty. When we wake up we’re inside a cloud, but the fog burns off by midday, and then it’s warm enough to bask in the sun on the deck. The skies have been a deep, bright blue, a Maxfield-Parrish-like backdrop for the colors of the changing leaves, which have now almost reached their zenith of brilliance.
At the end of the day, as the sun dips low on the horizon and the shadows lengthen, the colors intensify — a last hurrah before darkness sets in. I can’t stop looking — and, apparently, neither could Mr. Hopper.
View from Ducker Road, looking south toward Rte 110, South Royalton, Vermont.
The curving road mimics the bend in the First Branch of the White River,
hidden by the trees. Photo by Bonnie Tocher Clause, September 2013.