Monday, February 28, 2011

Wild Cucumber Winter (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.)

26 February finds me captivated by the soft snow "toques" on the Wild Cucumber pods. This one is hanging down low from the vine draping over the barnyard fence.  Its translucent membrane almost seems to glow from within like a little lampshade.

Last night's fresh snow is tracked by Hares and Cottontails where I walked with the dog "out back" in the morning. Grouse tracks lace across the path from a low-branched Cedar, and my boots slipped sideways over the hard irregularities of the old crust below the soft fluffy stuff. Suddenly a Ruffed Grouse flushes, exploding from a curtain of Cedar boughs close beside us, and Marigold dashes off in the direction of the whirring wings.  Sometimes fleeing Grouse hit the sides of light-coloured buildings, perhaps taking them for openings in the trees.

The soft snow was deep for much of the winter here, and Grouse had plenty of opportunity to dive into it to shelter for the night. But then most of it melted, and what remained froze hard as ice. Now the Grouse must roost in the trees until the soft snow gets deeper.

This original painting is available for $275.  For information on purchase and shipping, please contact me at


  1. Sad for the grouse. It must be cold in the trees. I know the wind was very cold here today, making a -13 temperature feel like -23 with the wind chill.
    We have the same problem you have with the snow: deep snow melts somewhat, then freezes, and more snow falls on top of it.
    However, I love this painting, especially the way the light changes beneath the wild cucumber pods, and the way the snowy "toques" sparkle.
    -- K

  2. The Cedars give quite good wind protection, and the Grouse are well dressed for winter. It has only gotten down to -16C at night during the past few weeks, so I don't think they're enduring much hardship. Of course, in a snowy bed they would burn fewer calories to keep warm.

    I'm glad you like the painting! I think it's an interesting contrast to November's and it also makes a good companion for "Wild Turkey Dusk"

  3. When I was googling around to see what's known about how Grouse decide when to snow-roost, and how they know when the crust is too thick for this to be safe (with the idea that plunging into snow to roost may predispose them to flying into white-painted house walls), I came across the idea that roosting on the surface of the snow, even in fairly open woods, may be warmer than roosting up in even dense coniferous trees. I don't know how this is balanced out with the threat of terrestrial and avian predators.


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