Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mushrooms Under a Pine

The morning of the 19th was overcast, cool and windy, and the dogs and I hiked all around enjoying the change of weather.  The tops of the pines swayed and soughed, yellow leaves would occasionally let go and fly through the still summery-looking woods. This drawing started with the beautiful little (unknown) mushrooms I found growing in the litter in some piney woods.  They looked silky, almost shiny. I immediately fell in love with them. 

I sat and started drawing.  As I worked on the quarter-sized mushroom, all the other bits of debris showed themselves: another smaller mushroom nearby, the tiny pale yellow puffball, the sparkleberry leaf and two sparkleberries, two scales of a pine cone, silvery pine bark and twigs, and the big red ant exploring the neighborhood.  Naturally, I had to include them all on the page.

Cicadas would start trilling but then stop a few minutes later, as if they couldn't decide if it was quite warm enough to sing. Duke and Daisy were good dogs while I drew and settled beside me for a nap.

Fast forward to today!  The temperatures around here are still cool, the mornings lovely and a bit dewy.  My shoes got wet from walking in the high grass on the shady side of the pipeline.  Since I knew I had last week's entry to post today, I decided to take my camera along. Here are few photos from today's hike. Double click photos to enlarge.

Insect holes on a Morning Glory leaf


Crab Spider on Aster

Leaf-footed Seedbug on Sumac berries

Lobelia with spider

A single Blue Curls bloom

Blue Curls plant

Ailanthus Webworm Moth

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Sneak Peek!

On Monday of last week, when I was about to walk out the door for a hike and some journaling time, my editor at Hub City Press sent me a text with a photo.  Look what just showed up, she wrote. The photo showed two advanced copies of Middlewood Journal: Drawing Inspiration from Nature that had just arrived in the day's mail.

I wrote back, Yay! I'll come into town later today, after journaling.  A minute later I wrote again,  OK, just a short dog walk - no journaling....  By the time I got my shoes on I knew what I had to do.  I texted, On my way now!  Daisy and Duke looked pitiful, even though I promised I would be right back and take them for their walk.

I grabbed my car keys and out the door I rushed, without even brushing my hair.

So, here is your sneak peek photo of one of the entries in the book! It's a beautiful book.  The release date is November 2... but feel free to pre-order from Hub City Press and I will sign it before it goes out.

Better yet, if you live close enough, come to the release party!  It's going to be at Hub Bub Showroom in downtown Spartanburg, Friday, November 2, from 4-6.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Two Thoroughworts & Gerardia

I headed out with Daisy and Dukie mid-morning, prepared to stay out for my usual long morning in the field.  The sky was hung heavy with dark clouds and a cool, damp breeze blew from the west, which felt wonderful.  As we passed through the woods I noticed mushrooms. White ones, brown ones, yellow ones, orange ones, gilled and boletes... lots of mushrooms!  They were everywhere, reminding me that I must post my last journal entry from late August that is all about mushrooms, which I'll do soon.  Today though, I wanted to get out to the fresh breezes of the pipeline and let the dogs get some exercise, so we continued on.

We passed a patch of purple top tridens (grass) and I grabbed a seed head to pull the seeds off, which I often do, tossing the seeds here and there as I walk.  This time though, the seeds weren't ready to fall off, but I did get a handful of the tiniest little insects - smaller than my pinkie fingernail.  I first thought,  baby grasshoppers, but their skinny black legs were the same width (less than a hair's diameter) all the way from body to foot - none of the muscles you find on a grasshopper.  I leaned in to other grass plumes and saw that they were everywhere - 10 - 20 on each.  Further down the hill I checked again and found a few more, although not as many as on top of the hill.  It was fairly quiet as I walked, except for the soft trill of field crickets.  A red bellied woodpecker chirred in the woods, and a lone crow flapped over my head with a single, unenthusiastic caw! 

I settled to draw next to a round-leaved thoroughwort.  It's such a tidy, well behaved plant, I can imagine transplanting one into my garden.  It's cousin, hyssop-leaved thoroughwort, is a different matter.  It grows everywhere across all three pipelines, so I imagine it does a better job getting its seeds out and about - not a good candidate for a garden, but a nice home for tiny crab spiders!  I picked one branch to draw (both plants are much fuller than these on the page) and ended up bring two size X-small spiders back to my seat. After studying them I set the spiders in the grass away from me.   

I drew for an hour or so, until I felt some tiny spits of rain.  I packed quickly, and then realized it had stopped spitting rain for the moment, so even though we still headed home, we went the long way.  I wanted to look for a third thoroughwort I know grows down by the creek, named boneset.  I couldn't find it, but that's ok... the dogs and I all needed the extra exercise.   

I returned home with soggy shoes and pants wet to the knee.  The dogs slurped the ice water I put down for them (yes, I admit, they are spoiled) and then collapsed on the cool floor for naps.


A few photos from the past few weeks around Middlewood: a tiny mushroom,

a dead butterfly's wing,

a handsome Assassin Bug,

a beautiful mushroom with a beautiful name: Lactarius indigo,

a macro photo of a spider web in the sun,

a Fiery Skipper on thistle,

a Pearly Crescentspot.

NEW PHOTOS:  the tiny insects on the grass seed heads... anybody know what they are? 
 Click on images to enlarge.

 Look who I found snacking on a mushroom... yum! yum!