Thursday, June 17, 2010

Seaway (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.) SOLD!

15 June finds us on the shore of the St Lawrence River just west of Maitland, Ontario, looking across the seaway to New York State. We feel our way down the steep slope east of the parking area, through a waist-high stand of Impatiens capensis (Spotted Jewelweed) - none of the pink Impatiens glandulifera here yet, though it's an ideal site for it - and Fred grubs up some moist drift from the current driftline of reed stems and pine needles into a bag to sort for sowbugs.  Above him Redwings are acting out their little dramas in the branches of a huge luxurious willow that arch, like a hemispherical world of tree, above its many deeply grooved trunks.  A ship passes slowly at a distance and I decide to include it in my painting.

Fred wades to the limit of his boot height, turning slabs to look for crayfish. The water level is about a foot lower than it has been at some other visits here, and there's about a metre of stony gravelly beach between the lower limit of the Jewelweed and Grape vines and the quietly lapping water. The gravel that the flat rocks are set in is all mixed with little white Zebra Mussel shells, but (not particularly looking for them) Fred hasn't noticed any of these alive on the rocks he's turning. "Aha, " he chortles, "A big Orconectes virilis female, ' and as he carefully extracts it from the dipnet, "Maybe not. " It's got prickly cheeks, and I propose that it may be a hybrid with Orconectes limosus, the species we're looking for, as it is gradually moving up the St. Lawrence from Quebec, where it moved in from the US.

As Fred goes back to turning rocks, a ridiculously large ship is rumbling by close to shore, loaded on deck with 12-14 big white cylinders, capped at each end with red or blue. As it passes into the west, the wake arrives, and Fred's search is disrupted in the fading light. He's working in deeper water now (50 cm, in wading shoes), at the depth where the rocks on the bottom come to be covered with fluffy yellow-green algae, rather than just being bare. He's seen another crayfish, that looked like the one he caught, but it got away in the depth and the dimness. the water drops off to more than a metre depth here, so it might be possible to set minnowtraps, and not risk having them vandalized.

At just past eight o'clock we're picking up to leave and I glance up to see a building on the New York shore reflecting the setting Sun in all its windows.  A row of 4 Canada Geese fly past it, tiny & distant.  The colours of their world are a mixture of pink and blue, softly blended in the sky, and sharply pointilistic on the water. There's a lot of avian activity out in mid-river. A Loon flies blackly by, and glides a long ways before skidding down to settle, only head & neck visible at a distance. More Geese follow each other in pairs out over the middle of the now-dusky pink St Lawrence.  Everyone is going to where they'll spend the night.

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What do you think of this painting, and what do you know about the subject that I have painted?