12 April finds me sitting on a steep forested bank, painting a gracefully gesturing Spruce stump. The swamp behind it glows with evening sunlight, full of blushing red Dogwood and greening willow bushes. We've come here hoping to hear frog voices but although the day is sunny, it is also cool and windy, and except for bird sounds, the afternoon is quiet. Occasionally a clamour of Canada Geese rises and falls in the distance. A male Wood Duck splashes down at the foot of an old Ash tree, where a box for nesting is fastened above aluminum sheathing high on the trunk. It always amazes me how small the hole is in a Wood Duck nest box, compared to the size of an adult duck - and how the ducklings when they're ready, jump from their high nest to never return.
This land is on limestone, and the undulating floor of the forest above and behind me is carpeted with smooth dry Cedar leaves. The Cedars grow in big clumps of gracefully curving trunks, where they'd been cut 40 or 50 years ago. Here and there, huge White Spruces that were growing down by themarsh have fallen, pushed down by a recent "wind event", their great trunks sloping and their tops lying at the feet of the Cedars, just like the tree whose stump I am painting fell, perhaps a decade ago. Fred returns to watch me paint, and tells me that he's discovered two entrances to the den of a Fox or Coyote higher on the slope just behind me.
Here is the painting at the point of our departure. I've finished it from my reference photos.
Joy, who introduced us to this magical spot, has e-mailed us a recording that she made when the frogs resumed calling in her swamp - so now we have a record that there are no Chorus Frogs there, just Spring Peepers. Thank you, Joy!