28 April finds me sitting at the edge of an apple orchard, painting bands of red and green through a screen of fencerow trees north of Russell, Ontario. It's exciting to see the colour of the soil in these high fields near the old quarry of Queenston Shale, and I'm taking this opportunity to paint it before it grows up in crops. A Pine plantation on my right sends long shadows across the lush spring grass and the evening sun highlights Ash and Elm with rich ochres.
A flock of Canada Geese is resting on the green field beyond the fencerow. Now they stretch their necks and raise clamorous voices in greeting to geese in the air. Out of the empty blue, ragged scraps of a flock grow from a faint smudge to delicate pencil ticks, oriented like fine iron filings, scattered but responding to a force that pulling them in a sweeping curve to join their fellows on the green field.
Two massive-trunked Ash trees stand at the forest edge. Taking a break from my painting Ihelp Fred to measure the nearest of the big Ashes - over a metre in diameter! Robins begin their evening song, voices echoing through the Red Pines from thicker Spruce woods. Each phrase is followed by an affirmative "check" as if asserting the verity of the comment.