Friday, November 18, 2011

The Biologist And His Dog (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.) Sold

8 November 2011 finds us skirting the perimeter of the Winchester Bog, searching for view into it, or a creek out of it. The South Castor River flows out, but the bog itself is hidden, somewhere beyond vast cornfields being harvested by huge combines. The evening breeze brings us the feathers-and-field-corn smell of a chicken farm. We found the South Castor River in a ditch-like groove between the flat fields. The view beneath the bridge span has some nice shapes - a composition of sinuous Manitoba Maple trunks leaning out past the steep grassy bank, and the sky reflection at a stony riffle. Then the Biologist and his trusty Dog, crossing on the stones, complete the scene. Fred plucks a few handsfulls of drifted sticks and snail shells from under the feet of Marigold, dropping them into a long, sturdy plastic bag printed "Popcorn" and "Mais Souffle" in orange and yellow. We inherited what is proving to be a lifetime supply of these bags in the 1980's when the National Museum of Natural Sciences shared a warehouse with a promotions company that failed leaving a large stock of these useful bags, which have become almost a banner for us wherever we go.

4 comments:

  1. I always love to see how much you can get into a 5x7-inch oil painting, Aleta. This time Marigold is a bonus!
    Fun story about the popcorn bags. I can imagine the brightly-coloured bags announcing Fred's presence wherever he goes.

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

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  2. Aleta, this really captures the essence of Fred when he is out working. You should paint him more often.

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  3. Before checking the stream here, we'd stopped where the South Castor River crosses Bellemeade Road west of here where it's a 4m wide clear rocky creek flowing between agricultural fields, and google shows that except for the extreme headwaters, this is the habitat it runs through all the way above the road. The fauna that was visible in the fading light was just shells: Pyganodon and Anodontoides mussels, lots of Sphaeriid Fingernail Clams, and a few visible Helisoma Ramshorn snails. A little Lemna minor is the only Duckweed. No search for Crayfish. An interesting feature was that the sprouting Ash and Manitoba Maple clumps had previously been cut by saws, rather than by Beavers. Then 2km down the road to the painting site, where the stream appeared more agriculturally modified, with rags of Cyanobacterial slime floating in the cloudy water, and catching in a sort of dam (partly composed of chunks of a wrecked vehicle) across the stream under the bridge. This also entrained shells of Helisoma snails, and when the sample is examined we'll see which other species are represented. Our map showed the river looping down into the bog, so we thought the second bridge might have some bog-derived fauna, but google, and our observations shows it running only through tilled fields, so we didn't get any experience of the Winchester Bog from our excursion.

    Though it was nearly dark, we then tried to drive into the bog, which the map showed as possible from the SW end along Loughlin Ridge Road, but as soon as this road passed the last house it degraded, undulated past a forest of quite large broad-leafed trees, and then humped up in an undulation we regarded as impassable at a big culvert for a drainage ditch. Google shows Loughlin Ridge Road continuing to Development Road, which would be a nice loop, but this would require a high-clearance all-wheel drive vehicle of some sort, or enough time to stop, get out, and walk. Jim Beckett e-mails: "Do NOT try to follow Loughlin Ridge east from the culvert unless you are on a dirt loving ATV. I walk that area most weekdays, other than the two weeks of gun season (my dogs are large and brown although with orange neck warmers). Give me a call if you would like details."

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  4. Looks like Fred. Lovely painting, as usual.

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