Burpee Millstream at Fernbank Road (oil on canvas 12 x 16 in.)

18 June finds me sitting on my paint caddy by the Burpee Millstream in one of the western slices of New Brunswick's Grand Lake Meadows PNA, working to capture the patterns of light and colour of water as it courses past, and the rhythm of Red maple and White Pine branches as they reach into the light above the stream. 

Fred has just returned from wading down the creek on the round cobbly rocks, admiring the aquatic moss and collecting spring drift from the floodline one metre up the bank. He found a Two-lined Salamander under a stone at the stream edge, and dipnetted a Stonefly larva. There were no crayfish, clams or snails, and no evidence of Beavers. Then he walked back through Sensitive Fern and waist deep Ostrich Ferns to check my progress on the painting. 

Painting moving water is a time-consuming study, and I realize that whenever I'm not guessing, I'm learning. 

Then Fred climbs the bank behind me to explore the forest behind me, finding deep leaf litter with Maianthemum canadense (Canada Mayfower) and sprawling Lycopodium obscurum (Ground-pine) to be the dominant groundcover. Lifting branches and rolling some sodden rotten logs, he uncovers a couple of small earthworms, two ground beetles and an adult Arion slug. 
Finally Owen appears, happy with the diversity of understory woody plants in this natural riverine forest. Balsam Fir makes up most of the canopy and he found lots of Hobblebush, looking like a young Basswood, but with the opposite leaves of a Viburnum. Hemlock and White Cedar live along the stream where Speckled Alder is the dominant bush.  
On a nearby ridge Owen found a sign announcing that the area he was entering had been clearcut in 1991 and planted with Black Spruce in '93, but very few of the Black Spruce had survived competition from the natural influx of non-coniferous colonists - Gray Birch, Red Maple, Large-toothed Aspen, Paper Birch, and other woody plants. 
He found a marked contrast in plant diversity between the natural riverine forest and the surrounding area under silvicultural management - the 20 year old clearcut, 5 year old clearcut and Black Spruce forest waiting to be logged. There doesn't seem to be any close correspondence between the degree of habitat modification and the PNA boundaries shown in the maps that we have, but the stream is clearly the core of this slice of land classified as Protected Natural Area. On his way back into the deep shady woods by the stream, Owen was very pleased to come upon a bed of One-flowered Wintergreen. 

Dear patrons and supporters,

This 12 x 16 painting is available for $495, in support of our biological survey and nature documentation work. For more information, please contact me at



  1. I like this a lot, Aleta. My father loved rivers and streams, and passed that love along to us.


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