Russell Red Trilliums (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.) Sold
7 May finds me painting the base of a large Silver Maple in the J. Henry Tweed Conservation Area in Russell, Ontario. The tall thin stems of three Red Trilliums sport wine red blooms above broad green shields of their leaves. Can you see them? Just out of the shadow of the tree, backlit against sun-splashed leaf litter and a haze of lacy new ferns at the feet of the younger maples. Other Red Trilliums grow singly and in small groups about this tree, and a raft of White Trilliums flaunt their large petals beside where I sit on a sprawl of fallen dead branches. Down a short slope behind me, a small clay-bed creek meanders through this forested valley. I hear the voices of children calling to each other echoing among the trees. People pass quietly behind me on the gravel path and across the wooden bridge, some on bicycles and others walking with their dogs. Whitethroated Sparrows call "Sweet Canada-Canada-Canada" and Cardinals whistle "Pretty-pretty-pretty".
On the flood plain Horsetail makes a green hairy furze, sprouting Jewelweed is just showing its cotyledons on the damp exposed clay, and Ostrich Ferns fan fountains of fronds along the curve of the creek. Many have been snapped off by folks gathering fiddleheads. Fred noticed on our 3 May visit, that the areas most heavily harvested sport fewer of last year's dark, club-like fertile fronds than the less accessible patches. He found piles of logs from previous spring's drift lined up on the flood plain, but there has been no significant flooding this spring, and he collected only a few meagre handsfulls of semi-sorted drift from 50 cm above the current water level. He turned a few streamside rocks for Two-lined Salamanders and found none, and no clams anywhere.
I came here by myself today, to paint "spring ephemeral" wildflowers, and without Fred to help me decide what to paint, took a long time in choosing. I crouched to take many closeup photos of delicate Spring Beauty cuddled in to the foot of the huge, pleated-trunked Silver Maple at the foot of the wooden steps down from the parking lot, but finally chose to sit on a log and look upslope to paint distant Red Trilliums.
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