Ellershouse Brook (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.)

oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.                                 $275

27 September finds me on the bank of a brook near Ellershouse, Nova Scotia, gazing across a dark pool formed as the brook turns at a massive wrinkled and water carved bedrock wall. The rock is a greenish grey metamorphic, stained rusty-pink in places, with four little "caves" along a bedding fault, which reflect ripples on their ceilings.  From the water to its forested crest, the nearly vertical wall is 15-20 metres high. I look straight up to Pines of half a century or more waving long arms of sunlit needles against the cobalt sky. The forest has crept half way down the rock face. Spruces, Maples and Pines perch on ledges and find roothold in crevices. To my right a large Maple with lichen-whitened bark leans over the pool to reflect its 'fluorescent' leaves from lime at the bottom to crimson at the top.  It is matched by a Red Maple whose leaves haven't started to turn yet.

A row of Hemlocks shade the low bank directly across from me, their black roots exposed at the waters edge, and the brook upstream chatters to itself as it gradually drops about one metre, slipping over a series of worn ledges, rafting bright leaves and sparkling in the sun. 

Fred notices a single plant of the invasive Pink Jewelweed. Panicking, he pulls it as a specimen, thinking to have eradicated the first plant of a potential invasion. As he dips its roots in the water to wash the soil out, he says he hopes that none of its seed pods will explode - but when we see a couple of tightly coiled bright green pod strips floating downstream, we realize that at least one "impatient" pod has snapped open in a violent act of seed dispersal. Crouching on a flat rock, with sinuses aching and nose dripping, I searched for tiny flat green seeds, finding some among muddy pebbles, then more in the edge of the grassy lawn. I even sweep up all the Hemlock needles from the flat rock because I notice a few seeds among them.... but Fred, returning from his foray downstream announces that the beautiful invader Pink Jewelweed is already established here - he has found several other plants in bloom. We will certainly return another year, and I'll look to see if any of the seeds I missed have sprouted on the bank of the pool.

This original painting is available, framed, for $310 on www.aletakarstad.com (see listing), or contact Aleta by e-mail for more information about buying or commissioning paintings, as well as lessons and workshops. 


  1. What a wonderful rock wall, and lovely reflections!
    Too bad about the jewelweed, but you and Fred certainly did your part.

  2. Our "Pink Jewelweed" (a name coined in Toronto long ago before we'd heard of an English name for Impatiens glandulifera) is called Himalayan Balsam by those who use standardized English names.

  3. ...or "Policeman's Helmet" by those who use wonky English names.


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