The Story Behind the Painting: The Long Winter

One of the most memorable experiences in our life set the stage for this painting. I was working for the Colorado Wildlife Heritage Foundation. The Foundation was supporting the re-introduction of lynx to Colorado. Lynx were trapped in Canada, then brought to a wildlife rehabilitation center near Creede, Colorado, for a three-week stay. They were released in late winter/early spring, just before the breeding season. A sustaining population was reached in 2010 and the program was declared a success!

In this particular year, the release date happened to coincide with our wedding anniversary. The invitation to be at the release was an amazing gift, because spectators were kept to a minimum! We headed to Creede from Denver after work on a Friday evening. Creede is about a 5 hour drive from Denver, so it was about midnight when we arrived. We were up at dawn the next  morning to drive the rest of the distance to the release site. The location was very remote and we needed 4-wheel drive to get there. In front of us, a wide meadow covered in snow stretched to a thickly forested mountain slope. The small group gathered was instructed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff to be silent. Six covered crates were unloaded from trucks and brought to the edge of the meadow. One by one the crates were opened. After a few seconds hesitation, the lynx quickly covered the distance across the meadow to take cover in the trees. Tom remembers one lynx that stopped briefly and looked back before disappearing up the slope. The painting honors that beautiful cat making its way to a new home in Colorado.