Thursday, March 7, 2013

Tulip Poplar Roots

In case you ever doubt that a tree's root system is as large as the tree itself, check out the roots of these twin Tulip Poplars, holding on to the bank along my favorite small, but fickle, Meetinghouse Creek.  During heavy rains, the innocent looking little stream rises high enough to erode the soil under the trees.  Over the years, the tree has compensated for this by growing its roots into the side of the steep hill.  

I have loved these trees since I first saw them 22 years ago.  It's a great place for children to climb and play - a fall (onto soft sand) would not hurt even the smallest child.  And, in the dark recesses of the root system, I think some wild animal has made a home, although it must be a nice animal, because it doesn't seem to mind us playing on the roots.  

The trees are located in an area of the woods my family has always called, "Coon Hollow," because we've always seen raccoon tracks in the sand along the creek.  Today, I am sitting on the trunk of a fallen oak that rests on the opposite (also rising) side of the creek, so it is not flat on the ground, but about two feet in the air, and is the perfect height for me to sit comfortably.  

It was warmish when we headed out, or maybe "coolish with no wind" is more accurate, so I hiked into the shady woods to draw, but by the time I'd finished, at 5:00 p.m., the chilly air was settling in the valley.  My fingertips were beginning to feel numb.  Daisy and Dukie didn't seem to notice, they just had fun playing in the water, and then resting nearby.

I chose the sunniest route home, and at one point stopped in full, hot sunlight to put my face up to soak up the solar heat.  So delicious!

 (You probably noticed... I forgot my pens today!)

 Cranesfly Orchid leaves growing in Coon Hollow

My friends run through Meetinghouse Creek...

Sunday, March 3, 2013


We headed out this afternoon around 3:00 in full sunshine and a stiff breeze.  The mid-40's temps meant the wind was very chilly when a gust came whooshing past.  Brrr.  As I left the house, I called, "I may be right back, but I may not!"  I had been trying to leave for several hours, but the wind-chill-factor kept sending me back in.  This time I had on enough top layers to block some of the wind: silk long undies, long sleeved t-shirt, turtleneck wool sweater, Patagonia top, and a scarf.  My goal: head to Meetinghouse Creek to sit in the sun on the south facing bank.

It was good.  It was warm.  It was cozy.  Daisy and Duke played a bit then settled down for a nap on either side of me.  The air in the little valley smelled damp, the sound of rippling water over rocks soothed my frazzled, undecided mind.  I would stay. 

I drew one of the many Spikerush plants that grow in the sand along the creek.  The sun can't penetrate the round spikes of this plant, but within it were blades of newly grown grass that glowed bright green.  The dark green Spikerush grows everywhere along Meetinghouse Creek as it passes through the open, sunny pipeline.  Its roots help hold the banks during times of flood.

After I completed the drawing I closed my eyes, put my face into the sun, and listened to the wind blow through the pines above our head as it skipped over our low valley.  A small plane buzzed high in the sky.  I put my hand on Daisy's side, her fur hot to the touch, and she looked up at me with sleepy eyes.  "Are you finished, Mom?"

Yes, sweet girl.  

I woke Duke and we all three headed home.

My friends napping in the sun.