Saturday, July 2, 2011

Upham Brook Old Growth (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.) Sold

30 June finds me sitting at the end of Dobson Trail, beside the headwaters of Upham Brook, painting an  ancient Yellow Birch, leaning and fountaining with Dryopteris Sheild Ferns. In the foreground is a Cedar also leaning, frilly with lichens, the lacy Parmelia and the frilly, bubbly Lungwort Lobaria pulmonaria.  The roots of the Yellow Birch embrace a spongy stub of rotting wood that may be the core of what was its nurse tree - so insignificant now, but a long time ago, its dying provided nutrients for the birch seedling, nursing it through its decades as a sapling and young tree.

This patch of old growth forest, less than a kilometre square, lies up among the mountains where new roads have been put in for giant hydroelectric windmills that we passed on our drive in, rowing their narrow tapered blades across the sky. This is one of the two candidate "Protected Natural Areas" to the north east of the Caledonia Gorge PNA.

To the right of where I sit, Upham Brook runs over stones and under logs, trickling music to my painting. A red-eyed Vireo sings variations on the theme "vireo, vireo, vireo",  and Robins, who at home are worm-eating yard birds, here are deep forest eastern thrushes, darting through the viny lower storeys of Mountain and Moose maples, and creeping to forage beneath the large heart-shaped leaves of the vibirnum bushes.

As I paint, Fred searches in and under mossy logs, finding Red-backed Salamanders, one native Philomycus slug, and lots of the large faintly striped Arion slugs, varying from bright orange to brown, as we have found everywhere in field and forest during the Bio-blitz.  There are only a few of the smaller Arion species among them, grey with sharp black stripes and a speckled back. Local naturalist David Christie told us yesterday that the large Arion slugs appeared in the mid-1970's, where before the only Arions were small grey ones. As if to corroborate my theory that one means of rapid dispersal for the recent invaders could be in brooks and creeks flooding after rain storms and in spring freshet, Fred finds them living a semi-aquatic life here in Upton Brook, crawling in partially submerged aquatic moss and on little rocks in a seepage tributary to the brook.

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