From Dartmouth to Halifax (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.) SOLD!

23 September finds us having new tires installed on both van and trailer at Miller Tirecraft in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. While we wait I sit on a pile of cement curbing at the back of the lot to paint the bridge to Halifax past a pile of big old tractor tires at the brink of a steep slope above more industrial park and the harbour.

I can see vehicles crossing the bridge with their windsheilds twinkling in the sun. My eyes are shaded by a hat and everything is brightly backlit. The surface of the harbour glares brightly to the right of my view.

Painting the worn surfaces of the huge tires reminds me of some boulders that have been a prominent part of some of my paintings - boulders moved by glaciers and left there as part of the landscape for a long time. But here the moving force is vehicular, and it leaves piles of things as massive as boulders. When I mentioned this comparison to Fred, he said that from what he could see from the face of the slope, this place was established on a moraine of buried tires, interlaid with crushed rock and gravel. The current pile, however, is probably waiting to be picked up for approved environmentally safe disposal.

It is a breezy day, and the wind at my back feels cold when the occasional cloud covers the sun. Queen Anne's lace and Goldenrod are finished blooming, and so is the Black Knapweed whose heads are dark and bristly in the foreground to the left, but it and the White Sweet-clover have a few residual blooms. A Tansy flower is still knobby and bright yellow in the lower right of my painting. The rest of Fred's plant account is as follows:

"Tussalago farfara (Coltsfoot), covers 70% of the ground here. The taller herbs are Carrot, patches among the other herbs, all in seed, no current blooms; Horseweed, scattered individual plants, still blooming; Solidago cf canadensis, patches of stout plants, in fluff and bloom; Sonchus sp, scattered individual plants in seed & bloom, Dandelion, many plants lush green down among the Tusselago; Lotus cuniculatus (Birdsfoot Trefoil), some plants in bloom ar edge of the open gravel of the lot; A pale blue-blooming Aster is the third major tall herb, with Black Knapweed and Goldenrod, though mostly inland of the exact painting site".

Just as my light is fading and I'm packing up palette and brushes Fred works the gravel slope and flat below the brink. He "Found Gastropods and a few big flat Sowbugs only under piled Spruce branches and logs in a little pile down on the flat - there were none under a pile of old milk cartons. There were about 10 Deroceras reticulatum slugs, mostly creamy-pale in colour, a little blackish Arion slug with a stripe, and cf Discus snails clustered under one piece of wood, shells under another".


  1. This painting includes a number of introduced species we've been following through the Maritimes: Carrots are much less omnipresent, especially in New Brunswick, than they are in Ontario; Tansy is moderately common around Halifax, more common than it now is in eastern Ontario, but nothing like its huge abundance in northern New Brunswick and adjacent Quebec; Black Knapweed replaces Spotted Knapweed here; and ever since we saw Coltsfoot swarming up the clay of the Scarborough bluffs in 1994, we've been interested in the contrast between the places where it's dominant and those where it's rare.


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