Showing posts from October, 2011

Cobbs Lake Creek (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.)

11 October finds me sitting on the edge of an old railway embankment, which is now the "Prescott & Russell Recreational Trail", painting Cobbs Lake Creek. I seldom see a view so distant. The South Nation watershed is full of distant views. In some the soybean fields look like they go on forever. The creek's shadowed western bank shows dark, far into the distance, all the way to the autumn colours of trees near the horizon. Above them I paint the bright blue of hills on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River.

Autumn Phragmites (oil on canvas 12 x 16 in.) Sold

10 October finds me sitting to paint Phragmites reeds on the shoulder of County Road 20, at a wetland which is the headwaters of the South Nation River's north branch a kilometre east of East Oxford, Grenville County, Ontario,  This is the closest the South Nation River drainage comes to home, and we've been measuring the height of the tallest stem that's within a few metres of the road here, ever since we took a 4-metre sheaf of it to display like a trophy in the entryway of the Eastern Ontario Biodiversity Museum in 1999.

Riparian Forest at Plantagenet (oil on canvas 12 x 16 in) Sold

October 8 finds me standing on a mowed lawn in Plantagenet, enjoying the puzzle pieces of the sunlit South Nation River as they peek between dark sinuous trunks of the Manitoba Maples that dominate the downstream third of this island park. The large leaves of Wood Nettle are turning yellow in the tangled, shady woods that slope down toward the river.

Old Bridge at Lemieux (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.) Sold

7 October finds me perched on the brink of the concrete and stone north abutment of the old bridge of the now nonexistent town of Lemieux, Ontario, to paint the facing outer 
abutment on the south side. The inner portion of the abutment, which 
corresponded to the portion we were on, is toppled into the river, with a 
dance of Manitoba Maples around it. The river is still creamy with suspended clay, even though we've had a long dry spell.  On 20 June 1993, this bridge was destroyed along with 17 hectares of farmland as the bank of the South Nation River collapsed after heavy rains in a landslide that in less than an hour left a crater some 320 metres wide and 18 metres deep.  This event occurred only one year after the last of the residents of the town of Lemieux had been relocated. Earlier soil testing by South Nation Conservation had revealed the likelihood of a catastrophic slide of the deep, unstable Leda clay, and three years later it happened.

Lower Hoasic Creek (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.) Sold

6 October finds me sharing a bridge abutment with grapevines, to paint the view down Hoasic Creek to the St Lawrence River, charmed by the parallel stripes of New York State on the horizon, the blue seaway, a strip of parking lot, a mowed lawn, and the shrubby river bank. Fred explored downstream this time, discovering that just beyond the curve out of my sight, the St Lawrence has backed up Hoasic Creek and established Zebra Mussels there. Until people introduce them farther up the creek, the three species of native mussels we confirmed here in 2006 will continue to thrive. As I painted, a Raccoon entered the scene, walking among the cobbles on the east bank. Once we were noticed, it hurried along the riverbank stones I have included it in the lower right corner of my painting. Fred has written a charming account of the afternoon, so I will include it here:

Watershed Tour (ink on paper)

5 October finds us on a bus tour of the north east section of the South Nation River, sketching in my journal when as we stop at various places. For eight years now, the South Nation Conservation [Authority] has replaced the old Fisheries Committee tour of fisheries projects with a generalized tour of their activities in some quarter of the South Nation drainage. This year it was the northeastern portion of the watershed, which we have seen the least of, and featured projects such as water source protection, manure treatment, bog flora in the Alfred Bog, forest management in LaRose Forest, and seining up Silversides at Jessups Falls Conservation Area. Our first stop is an organic farm, where a fence was being built to keep cattle out of the creek. We are attended by a flock of companionable turkeys, which I sketch as the project is explained to our group. When the bus arrives at the LaRose Forest pavillion so that we can hear presentations on forest management and native herbal lo

Bear Brook Haven of Diversity (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.) Sold

28 September finds me painting another view of Bear Brook - this time near its confluence with the South Nation. Here it has steep, wooded banks and a broader stream. The water is only slightly milky with clay down the centre, and dark green algae in streaks and patches on the firm clay bottom show in lovely viridian streaks from where I sit on one of the rocks that were tumbled down the bank when they built the bridge. Fred has gone upstream, and and our friend Andrew is out of sight downstream.  They begin to find the same diversity of mussels that Fred found at this place in 2007, as well as Flat-sided Horn Snails in huge abundance, embedded in the coarse algal fur of the rocks (at first we'd thought they were Zebra Mussels!) and grooving the bottom with a dense network of snail trails. I hear a sudden large splash behind me and turn to see Fred rising up from the water after slipping on the bank. Wading, where the water is shallow enough, is safer than walking along the slip

Bear Brook With Geese (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.) Sold

27 September finds us on this warm day, exploring the upstream end of Bear Brook just down from Carlesbad Springs, Ontario, to see how far the unionid mussel diversity of the lower reaches may extend upstream. When we stopped at the bridge on Carleton Line I was first intrigued by a deeply gullied pasture scene with grazing cattle, strongly backlit by the lowering sun on the west side. Walking back to the van to get my paints I turned around to look eastward and there, in totally different light, was an enchanting scene under a delicate sky - an intensely green field with the sinuous band of natural vegetation that marks Bear Brook, winding through it. As I settle down to paint this scene my attention is drawn to constant excited honking of Canada Geese. The goose music is coming from a flock resting in the field just past the bend of the creek. Zooming in on them with my camera I can see that they are all sitting down! Only a couple have their black necks draped over their backs, na