Tuesday, January 26, 2010


So, to continue from the last post.... finally, today, I went out after class to draw (with the dogs) even though it was cold and very windy. I'd already walked the dogs, but naturally, as my sidekicks, they had to accompany me anyway. The problem with cold and windy is that sitting still for an hour or more (usually more) allows your body heat to completely disappear. It can become miserable very quickly... and when it's time to unfold your scrunched up body, and stand up straight again, it's downright painful.

Even so, It was such a beautiful afternoon I couldn't ignore it. I headed out to find a spot to sit in the sun. The sky was clear blue except for the beautiful narrow strips of white clouds zooming past. A waxing gibbous moon hung in the east, just above the tops of the pines. The broom straw grass glowed gold as it waved in the stiff wind.

I sat in the sun amidst a patch of broom straw and other grasses. This dry grass stem (above) with curled leaves was nearby, so I picked it to draw. After coming to me to beg for a little attention, and a possible ear scratch, Daisy and Radu settled down for a nap in the sun. I settled into drawing grass. Between strong gusts of wind I could hear birds chittering in the pines nearby. Then the wind would pick up again and all that could be heard was its roar.

An hour later my fingers were beginning to get numb, so I decided to wrap things up. I oh-so-slowly stretched out my cold legs... Yow! I gathered my journal and pens into my backpack, and headed home. The wind in my face was sooo cold! I leaned into the wind and watched each footstep until I got to my woods. Brr.... I was so glad to have on my long underwear, wool scarf, and coat with a hood to protect my ears.

Even though it was cold, being out in the sun and wind was totally worth it.

Tulip Poplar Seeds

Ok, Sorry for the delay. You will note that the date on this journal entry is last Tuesday's date. I think I neglected to mention that I'm deeply involved in a photography class at a local college. It's a January Term class, so we meet often and long. and have little time left for other activites. Add to that the cold wet weather we've been having this winter.... Ok, no more excuses. Here is last week's entry. I will post today's in just a moment! All the best to each of my readers! Thank you for your patience!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Chicken Feathers?

Today I took the dogs on a late afternoon hike. It was cold, although not as cold as it's been the last two weeks, and sunny - at least until I got out onto the pipeline. That's when a scattering of fat, gray clouds moved across the sun. They were beautiful, giving the afternoon sky a little dramatic "Godlight," but naturally, the clouds weakened considerably the warmth I expected from the afternoon sun. Brrr...

I decided to hike all the way to the far hilltop before I sat to draw so that I'd have some body heat built up. On the way down to the creek I passed the chicken feathers again, and hesitated, thinking perhaps I should draw them. But, no. I was in my exercise mode and did not break my stride to pick up the feathers. Across the creek I went, and up the steep, far hill. All the while the sun came and went. The dogs zoomed ahead, ran in and out of the woods, then dashed back to jump and lick and generally show me their happiness.

Finally I sat to draw. I pulled out my pens, my journal, and looked around. The first thing I saw on the ground beside me were two small chicken feathers. One was about three inches long, the other less than an inch. I had to laugh! It appeared that it was meant to be. I drew them where they sat, among unremarkable twigs, stems, and grass.

An hour and a half later the pale sun disappeared behind a line of pines at the crest of our hill. Chill air settled around me and made me shiver. I absolutely had to stop drawing and get moving again. Daisy and Radu seemed to feel the same way - they led the way home.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Sweet Shrub, Beautyberry, Appalachian Oak-Leach, and Oak Leaf Hydrangea

It is so cold this week! I'm not complaining, just stating a cold fact that makes it difficult to muster up the courage to go out and hike. Even if I do hike, it is impossible to sit still long enough to draw things and not get numb fingertips... brrr...

I headed out into the cold around three this afternoon with the dogs, wearing a scarf, hat, gloves, silk long-underwear, and carrying tissues in my coat pocket to deal with the So-cold-it-makes-your-nose-run Syndrome. As we emerged from the woods a stiff breeze from the NNW swooped over the pines and fluffed Daisy's long beautiful hair, and then blew down my neck. Again, brrr... I zipped my coat, wrapped the scarf one more time around so as to block the breeze from sneaking through, and headed down hill. Radu loped stoically along while Daisy leapt about in happiness and excitement. She really likes to jump on Radu when she's hyper, and to grab his poor old back leg as if it were a CHICKEN leg, or something similar. I try to put a stop to that immediately, to save Radu from leg damage (not to mention to save our bank account from vet bills!).

Just down the hill I came to a big patch of red clay with tiny towers of ice crystals rising from it in graceful arcs. They were a uniform 2-3 inches long, and topped with a cap of clay particles that resembled hats - berets, perhaps. This is a common site out here on frigid mornings following rainy days. It happens more on the top of the hills than downhill near the creek, where the water helps regulate the temperature. By this time (3:00) on a normal winter afternoon, the crystals are all melted. The current arctic blast, however, has allowed them to persist all day. We passed by many patches of ice as we headed to Meetinghouse Creek.

It was a quiet hike. No muffled traffic, no dogs, no planes going over... Occasionally I would accidentally step on a patch of ice and be surprised by the crunch of it. A crash in the woods never did give itself up - deer? fox? coyote? Who knows! By the creek I found a "crime scene" containing some golden down and wing feathers the exact shade of Radu's coat. I studied those feathers. What in the world kind of bird is this??? Think think. I wrapped the feathers in a kleenex and put them in my pocket.

Back at the top of our hill, we sat on the sunny bench long enough to start hearing birds. Chickadees, Titmice, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and the Ank! Ank! of the White Breasted Nuthatch. Soft zeet!s from the pines could have been Kinglets. It wasn't long before the cold started creeping into my body. Brrr again.

I hopped up. It had been a good, brisk walk. I was energized and excited about trying to identify my found feathers. As we headed into the house, though, my inner voice spoke low and insistent about my exciting find... I'd never seen a big (judged by feather size) golden bird the color of Radu.... had I? Bells were ringing. In my bird book perhaps? Hmm....oh, yes...in the book my sister gave me for Christmas... a book about...


We have plenty of foxes and coyotes out here. One of them could easily have killed a neighbor's chicken and carried it along to the pipeline. Unlike Daisy, foxes and coyotes can have chicken legs whenever they want them.

Well? I asked myself. Do I draw the chicken feathers? Nah. Instead, as I walked back I collected seed pods and berries to take inside to draw.


Here is a journal page from last week. I had time to hike, time to draw, but no time to actually post. It was a busy post-Christmas week! Enjoy the various grasses here, then look for my real entry for the day, which I will post soon. Thank you all for being patient!