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:
 "...Then, as the shadows lengthened, down to Hwy 2, near the St Lawrence,  a site which we've been monitoring since 1980. This time, instead of heading upstream from the bridge, I went downstream along the cobbly creek towards an industrially modified landscape, with the scent of baking cookies in the air. Aleta set up to paint this downstream stretch, with the sky, New York, the St Lawrence, a parking lot and an industrially influenced lawn making contrasting bands of colour above the creek.

By the time I was just past the bottom of the stretch of creek visible in her painting, the water was flowing upstream, from the river, and river-borne Zebra Mussels and their shells were sparsely on the rocks and bottom, indicating that there'd be no point in seeking Unionid mussels  closer to the River.

I returned back to the bridge, with Aleta perched on the top of the concrete abutment, photographing me. This wide bridge was built when Hwy 2 was to eastern Ontario what highway 401 has become, and the roadbed was made wide enough for twinning. The concept of the 401 intervened  to relieve transportation planners of the necessity of widening this highway through all the towns along the river; now it's just "County Road 2"  in the minds of the government. The bridge is showing its age in picturesque cracks and rust and a drapery of fruit-laden yellow-leaved Grape Vines cascading the 6m or so down the abutment to the water from  where Aleta was painting.

I continued up under the bridge, where fine mud and beds of algae with pointy pricks sticking up from their surface were spread over coarse sand, and then up over the ankle-twisting artificial bed of the creek north of the highway to the first natural riffle.

This is where we'd found Elliptio, Pyganodon, and Lampsilis mussels in 2006, but now the Sun was going down and the bed of the creek was hard to see, and there were lots of dead Ash leaves on the bottom, and I didn't see any Unionids at all. A pale Crayfish jumped out from under cover, however, and while it had the size and dark abdominal band of Orconected propinquus (formerly noted as abundant there), it also had the constricted rostrum of the invasive O. rusticus, so further investigation of the Crayfish here is warranted.

I think, on the other hand, that Hoasic Creek is entirely too cobbly and gravelly for Ligumia nasuta, so we'll cross it off our list of sites where that species might be expected to persist. This stretch of land along the St Lawrence must be mostly gravelly till to produce  such a stream, which, except for the brown water, looks like it had flowed right out of the Oak Ridges Moraine. The contrast was enhanced because yesterday, and on previous visits in the South Nation basin, Champlain Sea clay had been so ubiquitous that a creek that's cobbly for such a long stretch had gotten to be something we didn't imagine.

By this time Aleta had the painting roughed out, and was putting in those details that made it recognizable to someone else in the "much improved light" of the sunset. We sat together for a while conversing when the thundering whooshes of traffic allowed it. At one point, we looked down as a well-rounded medium-sized Raccoon looked up towards us. My first comment alerted it, but when Aleta revealed herself as human by pointing a camera at it and clicking away, it turned tail and hurried along west bank of the creek (a row of stones (laid to form  the edge of the constructed channel) until it was out of sight.

The stream sign on the road here says "Nash Creek," which is evidently also on some topo maps, but that on Hwy 401 uses the generally accepted "Hoasic Creek" for this stream. Tomorrow we'll be snooping about, and painting, the Larose Forest and the vicinity of the Lemieux landslide."

Here is Fred - a little farther and he'll find Zebra Mussels!

This is how my painting looked when I lost the sunlight on my scene 
and had to pack up:


  1. I really like this painting, Aleta. Something about those bands of colour Fred mentioned appeals to me, and I've always loved creeks. I was thinking about twisted ankles, too, and Fred mentioned the possibility.
    So nice to get to "know" Fred a little bit through his writing, after being a fan of your paintings for some while now.

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

  2. Thinking about another Species at Risk with Naomi Langlois-Anderson, it seems plausible to concentrate monitoring of Eels Anguilla rostrata) in the South Nation's territory here, since this is a direct tributary of the Saint Lawrence, and whatever success is achieved in getting young Eels across the Seaway dams will be reflected here first.


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