23 March finds me sitting on the sandy verge of a forest access road called Gunns Road, painting a pocket of tussock marsh in old river channel, a little over 160 metres from a bridge over the Pine River, in Renfrew District, northwest of Killaloe. To my left the steep bank of the pond is overhung by the contorted, mossy-barked branches of a majestic Bur Oak. Spring Peepers are beginning to call, warming up in the morning sun in their hiding spots - grassy bowersthat overhang and float upon the still dark water of the pond. As I paint, the Spring Peepers at the far side of the pond call for a few minutes and then one by one fall silent. They seem to be a bit lazy this morning, as if they realize that they need to be 'practicing' for their evening chorus but would rather bask in the sun. Periodically one brisk, strident voice begins like a loudly peeping metronome, as if in an attempt to set the time for the others, who are roused in twos and threes to answer, gradually building to a chorus for a few minutes and then one by one, dropping out again. It's a lazy morning. A Raven passes overhead, silent but for the regular "fffffff, ffffffff, ffffffff" sound of its stiff satiny primaries. Then the peepers begin again, led by that same determined individual, whom I think of as the concertmaster.
Fred, exploring the river bank and the roadsides as I paint, draws my attention to an interesting guestbook in the soft fine mud of tire ruts near my painting site - clear tracks of an adult Mink, a medium-sized Fisher, Whitetail Deer, and a Wolf, whose broad deeply impressed paw print is twice the size of the narrow Dog track that Marigold left beside it. Only 2 vehicles went past us on this forest access road this morning, and they came back at about noon.