Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Early Fiddleheads (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.)

26 April finds me checking out the patch of Ostrich Fern fiddleheads at the bridge on Actons Corners Road, east of Burritts Rapids, Ontario.  I made my way down the wooded bank, through the muck left from the spring flooding, and onto the creekside flats, skirting the prickly arching canes of Raspberry and watching for last year's Ostrich Fern fertile fronds, tall, narrow blackish clubs that always flag a  fiddlehead patch.  At first I thought that I was too early, that I would find no green knobs curling up from their shaggy nests in the crowns of the raised cones that are their old accumulation of each year's leaf bases.  I stepped on a few of these firm lumps, hidden under dry frond stems and sprouting Nettles, lurched to regain my footing, winced, and apologized to the ferns in case I'd damaged their embryonic fiddleheads.

Nothing showing fern green until I finally spot one.  I squat down to examine it to see if I can find a good composition, and once I get down to fiddlehead level, there's another one, right next to it, and over to the right, another - a cluster of tightly coiled fronds just beginning to shrug off their copper-coloured flakey blankets.  It's certainly too early to harvest, but I've found what I came to paint!

I settle down into my low stool and paint very fast, starting with a medium-dark, bluish purple underpainting.  As the sun sets, a Leopard Frog growls in the bend of the creek nearby.  Later, a Spring Peeper calls (next time I'll bring a watch so I can record times), and as I pack up with the last light, I hear a distant chorus of Toads.

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