Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pinecone, Grasses, and a Red Maple Leaf

I took the dogs up to the kudzu hill this morning and was amazed to realize that the air was a good ten degrees warmer up there than either Middlewood or the shaded pipeline. It wasn't hard to decide to stay and wallow in warm sunshine, to be peaceful and draw instead of hiking first, as I usually do... definitely a good decision! Daisy and Duke ran and played on the hilltop, birds sang, red maple and yellow poplar leaves flew through the air with the breeze.

The hilltop is covered with grass now, instead of kudzu, because our neighbor has worked on the vines for years, regularly mowing, mowing, mowing until the kudzu gave up. Well, it appears to have given up, but from where I sat I could see a few criss-crossed vines pulled tight beneath the grass, tiny green leaves at the nodes ready for next spring.

But today was beautiful, the Eastern Phoebes called from the tangled fringes, where kudzu vines offer protection to sparrows, towhees, wrens, nuthatches, bunnies, deer, foxes. Daisy and Duke pushed their way through a patch of tall Johnsongrass at the top of the hill, only obvious because the purple grass plumes wiggled at the top as they passed. Crows cawed in the distance, and I slowed down for the first time in quite a while and listened.

Yep. Good decision.

October in Photos

Between travel and projects (due back to back), I have to say October was the busiest month I've had in years... maybe ever! Wandering the woods with the dogs did happen whenever possible, but I simply didn't have the time to sit and draw. I often had my camera, however, and I hope everyone enjoys this sampling of October images. Look for a November entry very soon!

Sunrise on Frampton Creek, SC

Buckeye Butterfly at Botany Bay, SC

Early morning shorebirds, Atlantic Beach, FL

Sunset, Frampton Creek, Edisto Island, SC

Palmetto fronds damaged by storm winds, Botany Bay

Glow in the east before sunrise, Frampton Creek, SC

Fall leave gathered on a hike around Middlewood

Daisy in October woods

Hickory leaves

Interesting leaf of Post Oak

Fun times on the pipeline

Roadside asters at Apple Tree Cabin

Asters in my garden

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Calico Box Crab, Sea Whip, Baby Sand Dollar, conch remnant

We went to the beach a couple weeks ago. There wasn't time to sit and draw while I was there, so I brought these goodies home and sat at my kitchen counter to draw. I decided to post it before mailing it away this afternoon.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fall Tangle

Every now and then a day comes along when things seem to go against my natural inclination to wander slowly around in nature, and then to settle down to draw. This was one of those days. It started with the dead cell phone (no way to tell time), and moved on to the dead camera battery (the plan was to get photos of the snake skeleton and several mushrooms I'd found yesterday). Then there was the addition of our neighbors' two hounds to the already crazy mix of Daisy and Stewie (four dogs underfoot does not make for a peaceful hike). They came bounding through the woods just as we headed out.

Midway through our outing, the bigger of our neighbors' dogs found something dead to roll in, and despite my frantic calling and attention-getting antics, Stewie ran right for the stink and threw himself onto the ground to rub his shoulders in the stink. Oh yeah, one shoulder isn't enough - he stood, turned and threw himself down on the other shoulder. Daisy put her nose in the air and pranced on, too lady-like for such behavior.

And so I moseyed on, holding my nose, and with my odiferous companions bouncing happily in front of me. The day shone brightly, with early autumn sunrays striking the beginnings of many fall blooms: Yellow Stargrass, Goldenrod, Blue Curls, Gerardia, Lobelia, as well as Goldenaster, New York Asters, three different Thoroughworts, and Heath Asters, which are just beginning to open their pale stars. Large Puffballs had popped up all over a portion of the pipeline, and some had been nibbled on by deer the night before. We came upon a Box Turtle, but one of the hounds pounced on it and startled it, and made it disappear into his shell. A Pileated Woodpecker called occasionally as he flew from tree to tree to let his mate know where he was.

Somewhere along the way I noticed this Tulip Poplar leaf sitting atop a tangle of asters and grass leaves. I stopped to look, and discovered that beneath the poplar leaf was a red oak leaf, and on the oak leaf sat a Carolina Grasshopper. Aster branches poked through holes in both the oak and poplar leaves.

As I considered what might happen if I tried to sit and draw, the dogs noticed that I'd stopped. They turned to gaze my way. I did my best "walk-two-steps-forward" to fake them out (See, I'm still walking!) and sure enough, they ran on. Then, rather than sitting, I took my journal out of my backpack and drew standing up... which is neither meditative nor peaceful, but still fun! The intricacies of the tangle fascinated me. It seemed like a puzzle - grass goes over this aster branch, under that one, disappears beneath leaf only to come out down there...

So, I'm not sure which came first. Did the leaves fall onto the aster just so, so that the tips of the stems poked through the hole? or did the aster grow up through the holes. No one will ever know.

But then, who but me will ever care?

The stinky dogs did end up coming back to sit for a while. They were close enough to me to that I got some delightful whiffs of their perfume. Two mosquitoes also visited. I took care of them, then scratched my bites occasionally. Still, it was a great morning.

(Went back to get photos of mushrooms. From the top: Parasol, White Amanita, Gem-studded Puffball, two puffballs nibbled by deer.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Whorled Coreopsis, Aster, Goldenrod, 9/11

The dogs and I headed out in the cool of the morning, with dew still heavy on the grass and deep shade of pines, maples, sourwoods and oaks stretching all the way across the pipeline field. While I knelt to inspect a 4" puffball, Daisy and Stewie dashed ahead of me. This is a good thing. I should always keep an eye on them because sometimes, when he is deep into play, Stewie is clueless to his surroundings. Recently Stewie knocked my legs out from under me while I was busy watching two Tiger Swallowtails on a Joe Pye. Out of the blue Stewie slid into me like a baseball runner slamming a first baseman while sliding into first. Down I went, into the dust. The impact seemed to surprise Stewie as much as it surprised me!

Now, when I hear them running behind me I look QUICK to see if he is paying attention to where he's going. It is much more peaceful (and makes more sense) to let the dogs run ahead of me so I can keep an eye on them.

Back to this was noisy! Crickets in the field and cicadas in the trees... Red-bellied woodpeckers chirring as they ate grubs from dead branches. A Carolina Wren's insistent warning trill echoed from the woods nearby. I think the dogs threatened the bird's calm morning as much as I did back on that spring day when I learned to identify the wren's warning/distress call - the day when I walked out and sat on the top step of my studio and didn't realize a mama wren was teaching her babies to fly right there. She landed on the trunk within six feet of me and fussed and fussed and fussed. "What's with her," I wondered. I'm a little dense, and it took a few minutes for me to finally see two baby Wrens taking short test-flights from limb to limb, and to realize, "Oh, it's me!" This morning's call was exactly the same.

I settled on the far hill beyond Meetinghouse Creek to draw the Whorled Coreopsis which seemed to have fallen over from the weight of it's blooms. The dogs settled beside me and the peace of nature's birdsongs, cicada trills and whispering breeze helped me become calm and meditative as I studied the leaf pattern. I discovered the tiniest crab spider hiding out in the center of one of the flowers, and was wondering what bug had eaten the small holes in the leaves when I heard a discordant sound in the sky. The sound got louder and louder and almost hurt my ears. I looked up to see a low-flying jet with a loud, high-pitched whine that accompanied the regular jet-engine sounds. I have heard other jets pass over with the same noise and have always gotten a sick feeling that there was something awfully wrong with the engine,
and I usually have to turn off my vivid imagination that insists on feeding me scenes of plane crashes, horror and mayhem.

Today the sound brought to mind instead the horrible events of ten years ago, the anniversary of which I didn't really want to be part of my journaling today. The peace of nature can soothe, and usually it's enough... drawing in nature is meditation... The real world can be harsh.

I went back to drawing and tried to forget the noisy jet. Others passed overhead but were high enough (or in good enough condition) that I didn't hear anything disturbing, and soon my inner peace returned. At the same time I couldn't help but think about all the people who, on September 11, 2001, lost not only their lives, but the chance to put their faces into the cool morning breezes, the chance to listen to bird songs, and to walk with their dogs, families or friends without fear.

With that in mind, with this post I send out peace and nature's beauty to all Middlewood Journal readers, as well as hope for the future of our great country.

Other things from Middlewood...

Folded Wing Skipper on Thistle

Winged Sumac Berries

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Kudzu, Golden Aster & Carolina Locust

Kudzu. Unfortunately, we have our own personal patch of it at the top of our driveway. We try to kill it every winter by spraying with undiluted weed killer, but when we first moved here we also saw Copperheads up there, occasionally slithering out of the Kudzu to the road, to soak up the sun. You can see why we're not inclined to actually step into our kudzu patch. We only attack it from the edges, therefore it will never ever die.

Kudzu also grows in a few places along the edge of the pipeline, and in the heat of the summer the happy plants send long, tough vines across the path practically overnight - sometimes I swear I can see them moving, reminding me of the car-eating vines in the movie, Jumanji. The vines tripped me several times this year - until the day I finally remembered to take clippers with me on my walk. Heh heh.

This morning the pipeline kudzu seemed to be at rest, tired even, as if it knows the growing season is almost over. This speckled Kudzu leaf (above) glowed under the overcast sky. I sat beside it, and as I drew in my journal a cool breeze riffled through my hair. I thought about how terribly humid and hot it's been this summer. No refreshing breezes! Ok, not as hot as Texas, but hotter and more humid than usual for the piedmont of South Carolina. I can't bring myself to hike in the extreme heat, which also means extreme bug bites, especially when you sit on the ground, like i do. (I've got the bites to prove it.) This morning, though, it was 73 degrees. So nice!!!

As I drew, Blue Jays outnumbered all other birds in the trees around me. Jay! Jay! Jay! Jay! Back and forth they called and talked. Then I heard clucks, cackles, and screeches that sounded like a rusty hinge. I stopped drawing and looked behind me to see a huge flock of incoming birds! Silhouetted against the gray sky, they were flying into the trees and field all around me. Daisy's head swung back and forth as she watched them. Our new dog, Stewie (see below) is a male, and thus more aggressive towards critters, and he was antsy. It was clear he wanted to chase one. In the flock there were blackbirds, starlings, grackles, and probably cowbirds, although I couldn't pick one out of the crowd. These four species gather into flocks in the fall, for safety during winter roosting. Today they slowly flew in for about ten minutes, screeching and cackling all around, landing in every tree I could see and in the field. Then, suddenly, with a loud, low whoosh! I was watching as they flew off to their next resting spot. Cicadas were also on the fly then, one buzzed past my head, so my guess is the birds were munching on fresh cicadas in the trees.

It was exciting to be in the middle of the blackbirds, and to hear that powerful sound as they flew. When I stood to leave, I noticed a mid-sized box turtle about four feet behind me. Hot or not, I know I've been missing a lot by not coming out to draw every single day. But, oh well. I guess I'm a wimp. All I know is, for me, fall cannot come fast enough!


Meet Stewie, our recently adopted dog from FHGRR (Foothills Golden Retriever Rescue).

Stewie, Atticus, and Daisy

Stewie, free to run (probably) for the first time in his life, with Daisy on the early morning Pipeline

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ruellia, Meadow Beauty, Carpenter Bee

After weeks of hot, sunny mornings, today's fog and cool temps were a wonderful change. Daisy and I headed out early to enjoy it. Our power is out (from yesterday's strong thunderstorm) so the rumble of our generator followed me out of the woods, but once we got to the hill it faded. Birds were everywhere! Our resident Indigo Buntings sang in the pines along the edge of the woods on either side on the pipeline. Blue Jays called, Mourning Doves cooed, and Chickadees and Tufted Titmice went about their seed-gathering chatter. We hiked down to Meetinghouse Creek with a damp breeze in our faces, to where various flowers flourish in the damp soil: Ruellia, Meadow Beauty, Butterfly Pea, as well as Queen Ann's Lace, Sensitive Brier, and Joe Pye nibbled by deer. Man of the Earth flowers glowed like tiny moons in the fog.

I sat to draw Ruellia blooms. Nearby was a nice patch of Meadow Beauty with different species of bees that buzzed at different sound frequencies around it, and these Hawkweed blooms. While I scritch-scratched on the page a Wood Thrush (my favorite bird!) sang in the woods nearby, and Yellow Billed Cuckoos and Crows called in the distance. Daisy passed the time by chasing deer (one coughed and gave himself away) and investigating the woods around where I sat. She's amazingly patient.

It was still only in the mid 70's by the time we headed home.

White Bryony and Knapweed near Tewkesbury, UK

My family vacation took us to the Cotswolds this year. June in England is a magical place. Gardens are at their loveliest, the weather is gentle and cool. I took one day off from the family excursions to wander around the countryside near our house to draw some wildflowers. Enjoy!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Meadow Beauty and Horse Nettle

Today Daisy and I headed out early to beat the heat that has baked the upstate for weeks now. The sun was barely up and cardinals near our feeders were singing their hearts out! On the hill, Indigo buntings chirruped their musical song from the tops of the 40 year old pines that reforested the areas between the pipelines. These birds sing all day out there, but although they are usually high on a bare branch, only occasionally are they perched where I can see them. A flash of brilliant royal blue as they flit overhead might be all I see of them today.

On our trek down to the creek we heard several deer in the woods cough warnings to each other that we were nearby, and naturally Daisy took off like a rocket to find them. If only I could explain to them that if they'd just stay quiet! most likely we would pass by without noticing them. Close to the creek, where the sand stays in deep shade most of the day, it is still damp from a thunderstorm we had last Sunday. Embossed in the dirt there were long trails of both deer and turkey tracks woven together in clear fresh prints. A shallow, scratched out spot in the sand showed where turkeys had had a sand bath in the last 24 hours - a turkey's version of "washing your hair!"

I settled in the middle of the dirt path close to the rippling creek to draw the Horse Nettle and Virginia Meadow Beauty that have always (since i've been here - which is 21 years) grown thickly there in the damp sand. Tufted Titmice and Chickadees, busy in a pine nearby, were making their numerous zeeeets! and chivas! a typical soundtrack for my wanderings in summer. It wasn't long before a Brown Thrasher began his mocking songs, and Yellow Billed Cuckoos started up their monkey- like calls all around. A crow cawed from the woods on the hill towards Lawson's Fork at about the same time the breeze picked up, bringing to the valley the deep and cool scent of the pine forests above me.

After lots of sniffing things and investigating the creek Daisy finally settled down and kept watch while I drew. As I was finishing up, Cicadas started buzzing in the trees, a tip that the day was heating up, as expected. I came straight home to post this, and then pack for a trip. Daisy is napping on the sofa.


This entry was from two weeks ago when I hiked up to the rocky ridge above Lawson's Fork. This mound of moss looked like a little terrarium, except without the container...or maybe more like a miniature Zen Garden. It was a lovely collection. I include it today for the viewing pleasure of my readers.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Lance-leaf Coreopsis, Southern Ragwort & Daisy Fleabane

I waited until afternoon to walk today so that the air could warm and the dew could dry. Walking in high, dewy grass soaks your shoes the same as walking into a stream! With each step you feel your feet getting soggier and soggier. But a cool, dry afternoon with a breeze is wonderful - the perfect time to head out.

One thing I didn't count on though, was the number of grasshoppers lurking in the grass. As I walked they leapt out of my way, but occasionally one would leap into me. They hit my arm, my chest, my thigh, but then one leapt full speed and smacked me right in the eye! I was looking down, so he hit me on the eyelid, but still, I felt like I was under attack!

While I walked through the tall grass I admired all the early May beauty of the pipeline. The Lance-leaf Coreopsis is prettier this year than ever, or at least the prettiest I've seen it in 21 years of living here. Other flowers are blooming too: Lyre-leaved Sage, Gray Beardtongue, Thistle, White Yarrow, Spotted Cat's Ear, Daisy Fleabane is just opening. The scent of Honeysuckle lingers in the valley of Meetinghouse Creek, where cool air still swirled and the clay track was still soft and wet.

Besides grasshoppers, there were many dragonflies zipping around (Four-spotted and others), and butterflies! Omg, it's such a joy to see the butterflies visiting all the blooms I've mentioned: Tiger Swallowtails, Buckeyes, Azures, Painted Ladies, Monarchs....and more, although right now I can't come up with them.

Daisy and I settled in the sun to draw flowers. It was quiet until the breeze kicked up and rattled the Cottonwood tree just up the hill from where I sat. It sounded so much like rain on the leaf-litter around my house that I immediately looked to the sky to see where the rain was coming from. Ha! No clouds. I twisted around to look behind me and saw the cottonwood leaves wiggling in the breeze. The realization that the sound came from there made me smile.

Birds included: Rufous-sided Towhee (Drink-your-tea!), Pileated Woodpecker, Chickadees, Cardinals, Louisiana Waterthrush, and Kinglets in the pines.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Meadow Parsnip & Ground Beetle

This post took longer than most to finish because I was determined to find out what these mystery plants were. I first found them two weeks ago, growing about 15 feet apart, with similar leaves. Only one had the beginnings of flower buds. A few days later I went back to see them and found that the taller one's buds were red! Wow. I had no idea what this could be. The smaller one had young (still green) buds, but I assumed they would be the same. Back again and the smaller one's flower was yellow. Yellow? Yes, definitely yellow. By this time I could tell that the flowers were compound umbles, which would make identification possible. After drawing the plants and the beautiful ground beetle that scurried past where I sat, I headed home to my field guides.

They weren't easy to find. After some false starts, and thinking for a while the yellow one was possibly a Golden Alexander, then a Heart-leaved Alexander (but what was the red one?). I ruled those out when I found an entry online showing a photo of Meadow Parsnip (Thaspium trifoliatum) in yellow and an inset photo of the alternate color, purple. Purple? But the photo showed the same reddish flower as my plant - not what I call purple! Very satisfying.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

Hiked early with journal and camera under cloudy skies to check on the Bull Thistles, to see if they have fully opened. Walking into a breeze on a warm spring morning is such a delight it makes you forget some of the little irritants of the season, which were soon to appear.

Daisy and I headed downhill to Meetinghouse Creek. When we paused to admire the nice patch of Green and Gold blooming along the edge a few buzzy gnats appeared, but were gone as soon as we started again and headed uphill. We followed the path that cuts through the woods and out into another open field where the thistles grow. The first plant I came to was not open yet, although still pretty. I took a few pictures and then we continued on. The next plant was fully 3" open, its color a beautiful deep rose-purple with white dots of the pistols showing themselves. As I took a few photos of it a few gnats buzzed, but only briefly. Then I turned around. Now the breeze came from behind me and a million gnats were in my face. Daisy's too. Like me she started shaking her head and pawing at her eyes. Ugh! Gnats are one of Mother Nature's less lovable creations.

Luckily, spring breezes can be fickle, and as we high-tailed it downhill a stronger wind kicked up from the opposite direction and blew the gnats away again! I was able to slow down and take my time going home. We went back to where I'd left my backpack and journal in the woods behind the house. Over the weekend I happened to find a Jack-in-the-Pulpit growing and in bloom very close to the Catesby's Trillium, also still in bloom. That's where Daisy and I ended our outing, and although the gnats were not around, there was plenty of woodland bug activity to be heard - lots of scritch-scratching in the leaf litter. I finally saw who was on the move... Fireflies! I guess we'll be seeing them light up the night in the near future.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sessile-leaf Bellwort, Yellow Stargrass, Lanceleaf Anemone

Wow! Springtime overload! Days are not long enough this time of year. I could have used about five more hours this afternoon.

I made so many discoveries today that I couldn't help but think about the early naturalists' experiences. Mark Catesby, for example, is one of my personal heroes, as he was the first to discover and record the beauiful Catesby's Trillium that grows in the woods behind our house. He wandered South Carolina in the 1720's, discovering brand new species day after day. He too would draw and paint them - but instead of looking them up in field guides, he named them!

Catesby's Trillium

Even if it's not as dramatic as being the first to ever see a species, I found and identified two new wildflowers today - Lanceleaf Anemone and Sessile-leaf Bellwort. Both were on the north-facing bank of Lawson's Fork, the Anemone down such a steep bank that my best view of it was through binoculars. While drawing it, I almost slid down into the river. Daisy watched, but didn't try to come down with me. The Bellwort is very subtle, but once I saw the creamy yellow flower I noticed the plants all over the hill down to the river.

On top of the hill is a rough trail wide enough for a truck, that makes an easier walk around the side of the rocky ridge, overlooking Meetinghouse Creek as it makes a U-turn and then heads down the other side of the ridge to the river. In the middle of that trail is where I found the strange (unidentified) mushroom, and when I sat to draw that, where I noticed the single blade that to me looks suspiciously orchid-like (luckily it didn't break when Daisy sat on it) and the little bright green seedlings (in the same family as the Bellwort?) that popped back up after being stepped on by you-know-who.

Later, as I was drawing the Morel mushroom, with Daisy on the bluff above my head, I had no fear that she would do anything as stupid as trying to come straight down the cliff to where I was... but sure enough, within five minutes she couldn't stand it anymore. She had to see what I was looking at so intently. Down she came, crashing/sliding through ferns and wildflowers, leaves, sticks and rocks, right past me and into the pool in Meetinghouse Creek. Geeze! Somehow the little Morel survived the event, but I quickly packed and moved away lest Daisy come back over to investigate. Besides, I wanted her to stay in the clear, clean water to help wash off the black muck she'd gotten into while I was admiring the wild azaleas down a steep bank near the river. I heard the PLOOP! as she jumped into a part of Meetinghouse Creek I've never seen (too much Dog Hobble!), but she was out of sight so I didn't realize until I heard her come to sit behind me and turned to speak to her, what had happened. Luckily I had my phone/camera in my hand to capture her beautiful feet.

Daisy shows off springtime mud!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spring Growth along Meetinghouse Creek

Today Daisy and I hiked to Meetinghouse Creek to check on the Tufted Titmice I saw there, building a nest in a beech tree. Just before I came to the creek, I scrambled up the steep hill so that I could look across and be at eye-level with the nest. I located the beech tree and used my binoculars to zoom in. I looked and looked, hoping to see some activity, but saw nothing. I did hear many bright and cheerful CHIVA! CHIVA! CHIVA! titmouse songs in the woods though, and imagined the parent birds out there teaching the kiddies how to fly.

As I made my way back down the steep bluff I looked around the almost vertical hill and started noticing how many plants like to grow there. I pulled out my journal to make a list of what I saw and wondered... are there more plants growing there than elsewhere in the woods because of the relatively cool, damp environment, or is it simply that the deer can't reach them? Maybe a little of both.

I sat next to the creek and continued the list. So many plants I recognized, but wait - what was that? Opposite, spring-green leaves with long slender petioles grew at the top of a 5" woody stem. No idea... Then on the other side of me, practically in the water, grew another mystery plant, this one with purple leaves with bright pink midribs. In my excitement of discovery, I saw a third mystery leaf, drew it, but once home realized that it is the single leaf of the Barren Strawberry that I discovered just last week... a seedling perhaps?

Daisy followed my every move today as I slowly made my way up the creek in this area we call Coon Hollow, trying not to get my shoes wet. She walked right down the middle while I criss-crossed and rock-hopped, occasionally holding on to her for balance. This worked ok, but I did finally miss a rock and got one shoe wet. As I was checking out my wet foot I noticed another little mystery plant growing in the sand along the creek. Last years tiny stem, wiry and brown, sprouted this years new growth of two bright green stems holding pairs of equally bright, small round leaves. The plant was only four inches high.

Also along this stretch of creek I saw the expected Raccoon tracks in the sand, and found a new patch of Robin's Plantain about to bloom. I saw Chickadees, a Red-Bellied Woodpecker, several Tiger Swallowtails fluttering by, but I never did see the Tufted Titmouse family. Maybe tomorrow!

The steep bluff with new growth of Wild Hydrangea

Looking up at a patch of Solitary Pussytoes

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Barren Strawberry, Birdfoot Violet, Serviceberry

A thunderstorm blasted through last night, with high winds, thunder and lightning, making today's gentle weather particularly sweet. Daisy and I found these wildflowers as we hiked to the river. One, the yellow one called Barren Strawberry, is new to me. I had to come home and look it up!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Liverwort, Zebra Swallowtails and Northern Water Snake

By creeping along the river at a snail's pace today, I noticed a lot more than I had just yesterday. Bloodroot and Rue Anemone were the main show, but I also saw one Hepatica, Carolina Silverbells, a yellow composite I haven't identified yet, Paw Paw flowers, and some interesting leaves that will be worth watching during the summer, to see what kind of bloom arises from them. Also seen was a mating pair of Sleepy Duskywing butterflies, and a Green Anole looking for a mate by showing off his beautiful red throat. Zebra Swallowtails flitted along the riverside like it was a highway. I saw at least eight. They were everywhere.

While I sat on the side of the river drawing the Liverwort (above) I paused a minute to watch the water run past me, and was surprised to see a 3 foot long Northern Water Snake glide by. The snake pulled up onto sandbar just beyond where I sat and stuck his head out of the water to look at me. I imagined him thinking: "Whoa - what is that thing?" He swam upstream and then pulled back onto the sandbar to look again. I'm sure he thought, "It sure is big!" before continuing upstream and disappearing behind a big rock jutting from the water. I kept watch, hoping to see him come out from behind the rock. He didn't for several minutes, until finally I saw only his head stick out, looking in my direction. What? Was I sitting on top of (or too close to) his or her hole? Even though snakes do not think in the way I imagined, I felt distinctly that I was in his space and that he was waiting for me to leave.

Daisy completely missed the thrill of the snake's visit. She was sleeping peacefully behind me, on the next level up the hill. She woke as I packed my bag, and off we went towards home.

Sleepy Duskywings, mating