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 lore, I decide to sit in the sun at the foot of a Red Pine to stay out of the chill wind, and Fred brings me a Lactarius chrysorhea mushroom. There are so many things to notice about it!

If you can read the notes on this page of my journal, you will see that the seining demonstration came up with a Brook Silversides - the first one found SNC staff in the main channel of the South Nation River! This huge fallen Willow tree reminds everyone of a dragon, and is a favorite vantage point for fisher people and for basking turtles. You can see the bridge in the distance on the right, just downstream of Jessups Falls, which isn't really a falls anymore, because it was blown up to let logs past in the 1800's.

This little Tamarack reminds me of the one I painted in Alfred Bog after our first daughter Elsa died in 1985. The raffling of that painting contributed to the funds that the Ottawa Field Naturalist Club needed to purchase and conserve the first portion of the bog. Now the whole central area is protected, and planning is going forward to preserve its water level from peripheral drainage.

Soft white tufts of Bog Cotton sedge wave above the little tree, and a wonderful diversity of bog plants rejoice all around it. I sit on the boardwalk to sketch as the tour walks past me, pointing out Pitcher plants and red-berried holly bushes, and our old friends Labrador Tea and Leatherleaf, and many others. The sun is warm on my back, and being low among the bog vegetation protects me from today's cool wind.


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