Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cranefly Orchid, Euonymus, Spotted Wintergreen

This afternoon was chilly, but the sun shone; there was no mist, fog, or threatening rain; no slick red mud to slide in, and only a few puddles left from Friday's torrential downpours. I had no plans or responsibilities - no articles due, no book to read for class; a pot roast bubbled in the crock pot. Everything pointed to GO! so, I high-tailed it into the woods.

Daisy and Radu went into a frenzy! They whined and jumped, ran forward, then back again. Daisy jumped on Radu and chewed his ears, Radu twisted away, momentarily aggravated, but returned to me in time to have Daisy grab at his leg as if it were a chicken leg. She's done this before and actually hurt him, so I picked up my pace. If I get them moving fast they tend to forget about each other.

My goal was to find a nice quiet spot in the woods where there was something colorful to paint, but had in mind that this is early February - there are very few colorful things out in nature this time of year. By chance I found one. Some animal (probably a deer) had stepped on a leaf of a Cranefly Orchid and broken the stem. As I snuck through the tangled woods on the steep bluff over Meetinghouse Creek, I saw the leaf glowing purple amid the brown oak, beech, and maple leaves from fall. The back side of the single Cranefly Orchid leaf is always this stunning color, the front is beautiful in its way, always strongly ridged and rippled, but it comes in the expected color.... green.

I sat to draw and found other subtle wildflowers that grow in the same cool, north slope environment: Spotted wintergreen (with a seedpod), Euonymus (with its typical deer-chewed stems), and Partridgeberry vines (with no berries) crawling over a tuft of moss. Just as I started drawing the sun went behind clouds. It was very quiet. The only bird I heard was a talkative crow perched in the woods behind me. He made many of his weird, garbled conversational calls as well as his usual, loud CAW! CAW! The creek below rippled along its course.

Without the sun things got chillier. The wind picked up too. Brr.... but since this post is overdue I persevered and finished drawing the small plants growing on the hillside. Once I finished we continued the hike to the fence. But before we got to the end Radu showed up beside me carrying a rather large, icky leg bone of a deer. Eww...

That's when I turned and hightailed it back towards home.


dodad said...

Dear Helen --

I sure hope that I can now comment on your work.

Love Dodad

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