These tough, slightly dimpled polypores were growing on a dead tree trunk resting on it's own branches about 2' off the ground. It might be a cherry tree, but the bark was peeling and so covered in various mold and lichen it was hard to say. What is easy to say is how I happened to notice the polypores as I hiked past. The shocking cinnabar polypore against the black, moldy trunk called to me from afar. "Paint me!" it said... "paint me paint me paint me paint me!"
Once I settled in front of it with my back to the warming sun, journal and pen in hand, I noticed lots of other interesting things happening on that log. For instance, check out the pale orange "ribbons" of orange polypore that snake just below the tree bark, like runners. I didn't notice the bent grass stem and its shadow until after I'd almost finished drawing the largest polypore. Later still, the white strips of lichen along the bottom of the log became glaringly obvious - each with it's own blackened crack down the middle of it. Which came first, crack or lichen, I wondered. Peeling bark... a mini volcano-shaped knot at the bottom...and more! Finally, I just had to stop drawing. The sun was getting low and the wind quite cold. Brrrrr....
On the way home I found the remains of a box turtle shell scattered in the winter-tanned grass on top of the high hill with the view to the mountains of North Carolina. I'd walked enough to warm a little so I sat down to draw, this time in a larger book of watercolor paper. This will definitely be a long-term project... like I have so much extra time! More on that later.
Turtle Shell Hill