Charcoal drawing of the old farm house, along with a postscript

Lately the marine air has been too cold and damp with days of heavy rain which makes it difficult to get up the courage for a morning walk; the dry, warm and cozy feeling house encourages me to stay in to attack some projects that have been beaconing me daily.  So, this morning, I did venture out for a two mile walk with warm wraps to keep me warm.  It was cold, damp and dark along my usual walking trail with the same old sights but this time no birds singing, the colors more muted with less contrast in the fields and deciduous trees against the strong darkness of the tall evergreens.

At the end of the road, the old farm house tucked into the distant landscape had a long tail of stark white smoke drifting from its chimney and hanging low in the atmosphere as it leaned toward the south.  Possibly it’s a north wind this morning, an indication that a few clear days might bring some sun.   I can imagine the dweller inside the house keeping warm from the flame in the wood burning stove, reading, baking, or enjoying the warmth during their routine morning activities.  Only one more month till solstice when the long dark days of winter will gradually disappear bringing the awaited lengthier daylight and warmth to the earth.

A short post script:  Thanksgiving is the holiday to reflect and give gratitude  for the small daily blessings we possess, I feel it important to express my appreciation for all the viewers and followers who might happen to spend time browsing through my short essays and sketches about nature seen on Whidbey Island.  I would like to give thanks to a few of my continued following talented blog friends with whom I have over years enjoyed sharing supportive comments: Paula Kuitenbrouwer, MINDFUL DRAWING; Jeff Zablow, WINGED BEAUTY BUTTERFLIES; and Jet Eliot, TRAVEL AND WILDLIFE ADVENTURES.  Take some time and fun to enjoy learning about their adventures in nature as you browse through their blogs.



A Watercolor Journal of Chetzemoka 1

Early this September my husband and I camped in our trailer at Fort Worden State Park campground located in Pt. Townsend.   Ending the last few days of our camping adventure at Fort Worden is always relaxing and full of adventures, with long walks along the sandy beaches covered with interesting shells, rocks, pearly beach glass and marine life; plus the views along the way of Whidbey Island, B.C. Canada, Cascade Mtns, beautiful sunrises and sunsets; and, a visit to the very nearby historic town of Pt Townsend.

My camera gets very busy as I carry it with me where ever my feet will take me, while on walks through the large state park.  Very near our trailer in the campground which is located on the waterfront, we can see the lighthouse situated at Point Wilson where there is also a standing war II bunker for protection from the Japanese submarines; there are several additional bunkers on a higher level of the park with a view of the Straits of Juan de Fuca to the ocean.  As I remember, that bunker was built for protection against the Spaniards years past.  It is very old but still strongly intact.

During our time in the park, I painted and sketched several watercolor scenes from the collection of photos I took plus one photo I obtained from the internet.  I created my own watercolor memoir journal from these scenes which I finally completed this week and happily share with you.  The watercolor scenes are arranged in the Japanese fold to enable them to stand alone for an open display.


No fir cones

Every autumn I anticipate the sound of falling cones hitting the ground, fir boughs, roofs and road, plus the chitter chatter of the squirrels as they run up and down the tall fir tree trunks.  It’s a happy time for them as they gather the seeds out of the fir pods to store them in secret hiding places where they are bound to forget their cache placement several months later.  For the seeds they forget to retrieve, it’s our benefit when a new fir tree sprouts from the earth.   I love to hear the songs of the chattering but this year in our neighborhood, it has been unusually quiet.  Their sounds are not heard; there are no bright green fir cones dropping from the trees; the road and lawn are barren of cones.   I don’t hear the squirrels or see them during my early morning walks!  What has happened?

I gaze up to the top of the fir trees and I am able to see a few brown cones dangling from the fir branches; they are not green.  Are these cones left from last years crop the squirrels did not remove?  I ask my friends and neighbors if they have noticed fewer cones on the ground and less squirrels running through their property.  Some friends who live on another part of island say they have cones on the ground but not as many squirrels.  They blame the unusual weather this last summer.

I don’t know the answer.  Some of the trees in our neighborhood are starting to die from root rot.  Maybe this is a year the cones did not pollinate, and the constant heat and long arid summer could have interfered with pollination?  Whatever the answer (I’ll research further in the future), I sure miss our Douglas and little brown squirrels running swiftly, chasing and chattering at each other through our property.

An uninvited guest

It’s late afternoon, Bill and I are sitting in our comfy outdoor chairs on the shaded front porch relaxing after a day of rearranging the garden art and plants, putting away the lawn equipment, and cleaning up yard debris before the rains return in full force; that’s when we prefer to not work in the yard but find other projects to enjoy.  We each have our daily GOW, (glass of wine), to sip as we watch and listen to the wildlife activity surrounding us.  The birds are the most popular loud noise we hear; small birds in our neighbors property gather on branches in the sun finding a food item to sing about; their songs are like a joyful choir singing from the depth of their lungs.  We love it!

Bill has been sipping on his GOW; he’s tired from today’s work and has fallen off to a soft snooze; the air is still, warm and quiet between us and I am watching several honey bees fly through the air heading toward their nests or plants to collect as much pollen before evening sets.  There are flowering plants, and trees where they gather their pollen and water.  There are also several species of yellow jackets, hornets and wasps that nest on our property.  They will aggressively let you know if you’re a threat in their territory; we give those creatures wide respect.

Observing the honey bees slowly buzz through the air, I notice their flight pattern is completely different than the other winged creatures.  The honey bee flies slowly like a heavy laden Boeing bomber with its legs dangling down and making a slow audible hum through the warm humid air.  It appears to not be bothered by movement around it but keeps focused on its daily goal and mission to reach its destination before night fall.  While the yellow jacket will suddenly strike out of nowhere making an uninvited visit looking for protein or sweets plus disrupting humans to scatter in all directions.

My relaxing afternoon was rudely disturbed for a short period when an  yellow jacket appeared to be doing a reconnaissance activity not far from my face.  Rather than wave my arms around to inform it was not welcomed, I watched it move back and forth across my vision while its wings made loud harsh buzzing sounds.  Then suddenly when I wasn’t watching, it was in my glass swirling around on the surface of the wine.  I reached into the glass and flicked it out giving it an involuntary flight experience of its life.

The relaxing afternoon continued on….




Trailer travels to end summer holidays

Bill and I ended the warm summer days the first of September “off island” spending time in several of Oregon’s lovely State parks in the Cascade mountain range and ocean beaches.   Then we headed north into Washington state where we camped at Klalock Campground in Olympic National Park, a beautiful and interesting beach for walking and watching grey whales gathering bottom shrimp near the shoreline.  We finalized our holiday with the last two nights camping out at Pt. Wilson where the Fort Warden campground is located.  It’s a beautiful open spot with lovely territorial views of the Straits of Juan de Fuca and across to British Columbia.   Whidbey Island is directly across from the campground.  We can look across and see where the ferry will take us on our return home.  We love this spot with it’s gusty winds that rock our trailer when the weather gets rough; the beaches are sandy and the pristine salt waters sparkle colors of teal, blue and silver, clear like a glass of 7-Up.  All types of shipping vessels, pleasure boats and sometimes navy ships pass by on their way to Puget Sound.   There is an old lighthouse built sometime near 1913 at the tip of Pt. Wilson that we can walk around when the tide is low, to head toward north beach and collect perfectly shaped tear drop beach glass.  On the bluff area of the very large park is a military bunker built by the Spaniards in the early 1900’s and then used again during WW II as one point of the triangle protective defense against Japan if they tried to invade the U.S. via Strait of Juan de Fuca.

There is much rich history to the small old town of Pt Townsend, a five minute drive from Pt Wilson.   On the two main streets remain the old brick buildings of early 1900’s that are occupied with busy retail stores that draw crowds of visitors each summer.  The local residents are real individuals and an eclectic assortment of wonderful people with a great interest in the arts!  At the end of the main street is the Wooden Boat museum, a well known center for wood boat craftsmen; to our disappointment, the annual Wooden Boat festival ended just prior to our arriving in P.T.

I brought only my graphic pencils and handcrafted sketchbook and then spent several wonderful relaxing hours sketching the scenes around me.  Enjoy.


Rugged old fir trees near the old bunkers near the light house



The decaying life boat from the discontinued small ferry boat Chetcemoka


A view of the Straits and beach from our campsite at Ft.Worden campground.


I sketched the neighboring trailer and the one in the distance while trying to capture the contrast between shadows and highlights.  People are sitting around the trailer in the distance.



At Newhalem campground in Manzanita, Bill and I picked wild blue huckleberries for our winter jams



Painting watercolor farm scenes

I painted three venues of my favorite old farm property that is located at the end of a road in our neighborhood.  The buildings once held domestic animals; the small chicken house on the right still holds live chickens.   The caption I wrote about the three scenes reads:  The warm summer days shine with the bright sun rays bleaching the tall grasses; the raptors play in the warm upward drafts while keeping an eye for prey; the chickens are loose searching for grubs and seeds; the deer have a day to graze in the open field.  The old farm buildings rest comfortably on the land, remind me of past leisurely days on Whidbey.

It’s definitely forest fire season

Early this morning, Islanders awoke to the smokey haze in the air, yesterday included.  Bill and I like to sit outside on our porch to drink our first cup of coffee and discuss our plans for the day, plus enjoy the beauty of the early sun rays filtering through our tall evergreens.  But this morning, the air had an eerie feeling to it; it was warm to our skin, no cool marine breezes to freshen away the stagnate air, there was a constant heavy haze in the air hiding the clear blue sky.   The landscape was encased in a warm yellow glow, the rising sun did not have the normal blinding glow to it, but a light yellow bleeding into warmer shades of yellow to almost orange around its rim.

This strange appearance is caused by forest fires burning in eastern Washington and British Columbia several 100 kilometers north of Vancouver.  We had experienced a very wet spring but this summer has ended up hot, dry, and almost windless.  That’s not good for the healthy evergreen forest in the mountains and low lands in the Pacific Northwest encompassing Oregon, Washington, B.C. and Alaska.    At this time, there are several fires burning acres of beautiful pristine forest and harming the wildlife in the area.  I realize that natural forest fires are necessary to revitalize the earth but it is a sad feeling when they do occur even naturally.  Each year there seems to be an increase in forest fires due to climate and careless people.

I sketched the forest scene this morning with an attempt to express the eerie glow in the air.

The Friday Market in small village of Langley

Yesterday drained every bit of my energy pulling several invasive long, strong, stringy ivy vines with those short, hairy, tendrils clinging to the old rhododendron plants on our property.  To rid those vines, I break the vines with my garden clippers to kill further growth on the bushes, then I get a good grip on the end and give it a hefty tug.  I love the ripping sound as the vine separates from the trunk delaying their aggressive growth for a few more years.

So I gave my arm and leg muscles a break today and drove to the small village of Langley three miles from home to join the Whidbey Island sketchers for an afternoon at the Farmers Market to sketch the activity.  Kim’s Marimba group was providing the music for the day giving the shoppers and browsers a bounce and swing to their steps.

Several of we sketchers enjoyed the music, the crowd and spirit spreading through the street.  The stalls were full of bright colorful flowers and rich healthy vegetables that made my vegetable garden look very anemic.  From where I sat, it was interesting to listen and observe browser and friends warmly greet each other along the streets and stalls, friendly conversations between serious gardeners or curious browsers about the process and details of producing successful beautiful edible plants.


I sat in the shade between one of the retail shops and a street stall set up with a friendly young  couple’s home grown vegetables for buyers.  Their blond son, who must have been near five or six, was behind the table eating snacks from a plastic baggy. He was a picturesque quintessential farm boy; I imagined a piece of straw grass sticking out from his mouth.  He wore a large straw hat, heavy sandals, long blue sweat shirt and probably his most comfortable trousers.  He was an active up and down, difficult to sit still, quiet shy boy along with good behavior.  His dad would turn and give him some conversation time and a hug.

I was fortunate to get a quick observation of him sitting on a crate enjoying his snacks before he moved from that position to stand upright for a few seconds and then he started to do his own dance steps with the beat of the marimba group; they were small steps but it was obvious he was happy and enjoying the music not at all conscious of himself or anyone watching him.  He looked over at me several times with questioning eyes wondering what that grandma lady was doing watching him and doing something with her hands on a piece of paper.  He was adorable and so unassuming.  I asked him if he wanted to see a drawing of himself but he quietly turned his head toward the other direction with no word from him; his parents must have told him not to speak to strangers.

I treasure this small sketch to remind me of those long summer days as a kid and the feeling of freedom and time for lots of day dreaming and imagination.

Historic Landscapes on Whidbey Island

Friday, my plan was to sketch with a group of Whidbey Island Sketchers at a designated location on the island where the sketchers would gather.  I am not often able to join the group for sketching time outdoors so yesterday was going to be an enjoyable event.  I drove to the scheduled spot, waited 45 minutes for others to arrive; by 1:15 the other sketchers had not shown up; I messed up on the time, again; I’ll meet up another day.  So I decided time was valuable then drove to two historical locations in Langley to sketch.

First location where I settled down with my painting tools and sun hat was at an old cemetery on a hill above Langley.  I selected one of the few benches placed throughout the grounds for visitors to sit and relax while spending meditation and reflection time of  loved ones.  The bench was directly in the sun and I was getting more and more uncomfortable from the heat and the sun’s glaring rays on the white paper but I was able to get in one sketch before becoming blind.   Then I drove just down the road to the Anderson family farm  another historical site in Langley.  It’s a lovely old farm with open fields of pasture land with cattle, horses, goats and chickens; an old double story house, unique old barn and a lovely arty decorated chicken coop with tons of wire to keep chickens in and predators out.  The person maintaining the grounds has planted a field of dahlias, some garlic and other veggies plus several varieties of fruit trees labeled with hand printed signs.  I love the character and charm of this place. There is  a small crafted lean-to shed filled with flowers and vegetables that can be purchased on the honor system.

Outside the make shift fencing is a commissioned hand crafted bronze type metal table with benches on each side of the table and an umbrella on a pole in the center.  I sat at this table in the shade of the umbrella and started to sketch the flower shed and the old house with the one of its green houses in the foreground.  This land mark is so special to the owners and other local residents in the area I assume the relatives had the table crafted in memory of the former owner with the printed raised words formed on the table top: “THE ANDERSON FARM – 1907   PEACE AND LOVE IS ALWAYS FOUND HERE   THANK YOU FOR THE GIFT”


Preliminary sketches of Whidbey ambience.

The ambience in the past that had been so fresh, natural with wildlife, beautiful scenery and only a few man made obstacles to obstruct a pleasant view is slowly disappearing with the influx of people’s desire to settle on this rocky, sandy, wet and wind blown island.  I don’t blame folks for wanting to live here away from the horrific traffic and fast life on the mainland; my spouse and I did many years ago.  I guess changes happen everywhere now days.  Time doesn’t move slow anymore as it seemed to when I was young.

To capture some of the ambience that still remains before  more changes occur to the land and beaches or historical buildings,  I photograph or do quick sketches of the scenes to work on in my tiny studio.  Some scenes I have drawn many times and can almost sketch them by memory.

The following three preliminary graphite sketches I have drawn will be painted several times until the right medium expresses my feelings and thoughts for these places that remain on Whidbey.  I plan to put together a collection of these paintings into a journal.   I seldom paint large scenery;  but I so enjoy  creating watercolor journal books of my life on this island!

Ocean Spray

Ocean Spray (holodiscus discolor) grows wild on the island, everywhere in large dome shaped bushes!  This is the time of the year the blossoms are at their peak with frothy sprays of tiny creamy white blossoms in a large clump hanging at the end of long strong arched branches.  The tiny blossoms attract butterflies, insects and birds like the cover under the branches for their nests plus the refuge it offers from predators.

Holodiscus discolor grows wild on the western slopes of west coast mountain ranges from Alaska to northern California and on toward the pacific ocean beaches.  The west coast Native Americans used the long branches for arrows and sewing tools because of the strength in the wood.

The above sketch is a branch I picked from one of the many frothy white bushes growing wild on our property



The day starts with an early morning walk

Our neighbor’s driveway is long with tall deciduous and evergreen trees growing on each side of the narrow dirt roadway.  The wild salal, salmon berry bushes, ocean spray, and nettles grow rapidly healthy during the early warm spring rains; their branches reach out over the roadway.  Over the years the trees have dropped their heavy branches to the floor of the forest from the high winds and the variety of flora have crumbled and decayed creating a soft ground for the deer to bed for the night.  Their hidden bed is barely visible beneath the long hanging branches on the evergreens.

During the early morning hours when the bright sun rays peek through the tall trees, I enjoy walking the length and back on this driveway just to see the color in the shadows against the soft bright highlights on the ground and in the forest.  The morning birds joyous songs echo deep through the forest to my ears ignoring my trespassing through their habitat.

Ebey’s Landing walk

Last week when the rare warm sun was shining on our island surrounded by moving sparkling blue waters, clear blue sky, and distant blue mountains, I took advantage of the day to walk the trail along the very high bluff at Ebey’s Landing.   The entire trail has an overlook of the Straits, other islands, mountains and mainland in the distance.  The view goes on and on as far as the eye can see in all directions with the constant change in color of water and  mountains,  cloud action,  wildlife and boat activity on the water; the big ships pass through the straits on the way to inner Puget Sound ports.

The wildlife consist of several birds, large raptors to the tiny hummingbirds.   On the higher elevation part of the trail, one can witness the backs of large raptors, sea gulls and smaller birds below as they gracefully scan the steep sloping bluff for critters and other interesting food types.

Many of the wild flowers were blooming when I took the walk; my camera was busy photographing the colorful subjects for later painting into my journal.  During a certain time in spring the sloping bluff will be painted with colorful flowers covering the hillside that flow down to the beach.

The Nootka wild rose, yellow crown sparrow on the fence post and the unidentified butterfly taking pollen from a wildflower were captured through the lens of my camera.  I used the photos to paint those special viewed moments into my journal.

Tadpoles in my fish pond!!!

Zorro, my cat, drinking the water

This year I gave up on supplying our garden pond with feeder fish for the raccoons to raid for their night time snack.   For several years I’ve been hoping the newly planted fish would have a chance to grow larger but each time their length reaches about four inches, the raccoons decide they are ready for the big meal.  Then after the meal, the raccoons leave a mess of tangled plants in the pond! I can picture the raccoons getting their fishing supplies, aprons, table dressings and appetites ready before waddling along the trails through the forest over to the Mathews’s pond for the family meal!

This last spring, I did not invest in feeder fish so the fish aren’t there darting and swimming around the water to gobble up all the newly born wrigglers.  Not ever seeing tadpoles in the pond, it never occurred to me that all these years frogs had been laying their eggs in the water for the fish to enjoy a nutritious meal.  Luckily, I noticed them while walking around our garden area after returning from a four day holiday ‘off island; otherwise this routine could have gone on for several more years.  What a surprise and how wonderful; I love frogs.

Earlier this spring I heard a frog calling from outdoors for a mate in the late evening just below the window where I was reading.  Little did I know that it was probably the same frog arranging a late night rendezvous with a mate that resulted in forty future frogs enjoying the dark green waters full of good stuff.  If they all survive from the predators and dangers of their world, next year the pond will be overloaded with another batch of future frogs!  Then the spring nights will be filled with a chorus of lovely croaks.  I am convinced there will no longer be feeder fish in my garden pond.

How to enjoy pulling weeds

Bill loves to lie on the ground and pull weeds.  It must be two fold: Getting rid of the noxious weeds and relaxing in the sun at the same time.  I sat in the shady cover of our front porch where it was cool and comfortable sketching this scene that I see every spring.  (I used a grainy buff colored paper for this sketch.  It needed adjustments and more contrast for clarity but then the contrast made the final scan too grainy.)

Watching for Wood Ducks at Earth Sanctuary

Walking through the Earth Sanctuary today in search for Wood ducks turned out to be a big fat 0!   Not a one could be seen by the three of us with our binocular helpers.  But, we did see lots of other waterbird activity mostly on the two ponds (Middle and Fin) which are the largest of the three ponds in the E.S.

First, just as I was going to make a turn into the entrance of the E.S, I came upon a Red Tail Hawk devouring a prey on the road.  About ten feet in front of me it considered “too close for comfort” so it flew off to a higher elevation for protection still carrying the prey.

Quietly and slowly walking the trail around Fin Pond, I spotted the Gadwall pair sailing so tranquil along the surface of the water heading toward the tall grass in the 15,000 year old bog island.

Then while observing from the same spot along the shoreline and under tall trees, a female hooded Merganser landed with a splash  on the surface of the calm water creating a small circle of ripples; it was easy to spot her.   She immediately started making short raspy calls that would only be recognizable by a male Merganzer also looking for a mate.  Three male Gadwalls then flew off from the pond headed in the opposite direction.   She stayed a few minutes more calling for a male Merganzer to be attracted to her call but without any results so after five minutes she took off heading to another area of the large pond.

Then, over on Middle pound, we spotted a female Mallard with her eight baby chicks cruising the surface of the pond staying close to the shoreline where they were somewhat hidden.  We decided after two hours with our eyes practically glued to our binoculars, we had had enough for the day.   Just as I was making a turn to leave, I spotted an Osprey perched on an old dry log sticking at an angle out of the pond.  It had a prey under its long sharp talons while pulling the meat off the prey he had found that day.  It was enjoying the first bites of the fresh meat before taking off to bring to its newly hatched chick.

A great day for observing the birds and wildlife for this week at the Earth Sanctuary, a peaceful and tranquil spot for one’s soul.

Venturing from Whidbey Island to Vancouver Island, b.c.

Tofino a small fishing village located on Vancouver Island, British Columbia is an artist dream for sketching and painting.  It’s lovely with pristine scenery that is undisturbed by other unpleasant objects; the ambience remains its wild self.  It has long sandy beaches for walking; small wooded and rocky islands near shoreline to explore or sketch; the weather can be warm and dry at this time of the year; thankfully it was for us.

In the small village the views of the near outer islands located in the protected sound are absolutely amazing.  My husband and I sat on a park bench  enjoying the nearby waterfront activity:  Float planes landing and taking off; kayakers, small boats, and barges heading toward the beautiful passages between the small dark forested islands; we could see a First Nations village on the waterfront located on one of the several islands in the distance.  It was difficult to get up on my feet to leave this serene view!

I have been wanting to visit Tofino for years so my husband decided to venture onto the beautiful Vancouver, b.c. Island where roads and people are not so many but plenty of wild rugged country and beautiful scenery.  We stayed in a comfortable ocean front cottage located on McKenzie Beach only a five minute drive from Tofino village.  During relaxing time I did some graphite sketches of the scenes viewed from our patio.  The below sketches are done on a soft light ochre toned rough paper in my sketchbook.

As the crow flies, Tofino may be less than 200 miles from where I live on Whidbey Island but to drive via car it’s 297 miles which is about 7.5 hours of driving including a two hour ferry ride from Tsassassen ferry port  to Duke Point in Nanimo.  The road from Aberni, b.c. gets really rough with winding curves and  lots of traffic during weekends and summer; but the trip is so worth it.  We loved it there!

Beauty hidden in the shade

Delicate white bells

Hanging from the thin green stem

Hidden in the shade

I am ashamed to admit I don’t  know the botanical name for this tall thin graceful perineal plant  that springs up early every spring  next to the trillium bunch growing in the shady part of my property.  In that same shady area next to the trillium is the shamrock (oxalis acetosella); all three are blooming at the same time.  It is lovely.

The native wild trillium’s beauty is outstanding, blossoms with big floppy pale white almost transparent petals and large green leaves; also the shamrock with its club shaped leaves showing off its delicate white flute shaped flowers.  But, this mystery plant is charming with a long thin strong stem and at the top there may be one or two small blossoms shaped like bells.   It appears to hang its head down not wanting to be noticed, protecting and not wanting to share the dark yellow pollen at the end of its stamens with the bees and insects.

Salal leaf: New growth to decay

I don’t have to go very far to find a  salal plant growing.  Our non-landscaped property is covered with the densely growing plant.   The native plant grows wild on 75 percent of our property.  The roots of the salal meander underground through the soft dry decayed acid mulch blending with dirt spreading up to around ten feet from the plant.  Eventually, one of the wriggling roots will seek the sun and a healthy pink root starts to grow a new plant.  No use trying to pull it from the ground if it appears in your flower bed.   Splitting a shoot from the main plant only exacerbates the multiple growth of more roots that turn into plants!  I love the wild thick salal bushes.  It means no weeding, mowing or special care and the plant is a beautiful addition to landscapes with large masses of plants and trees.  The flowers bloom during April and May attracting all species of bees; their wings create a loud buzz as they hover from blossom to blossom.  Then the red to deep purple berries appear soon after blooming to give the birds a pleasant treat.

I enjoy collecting objects that are useful to me, or objects of nature with interesting abstract shapes, color and beauty that had a connection with the environment.   All of these objects I consider great finds when found along my walks, in thrift stores or book stores.  My favorites though are from nature such as the thoroughly rusted soda can that had been thrown from a car landing in the shrub by the road side.  It must have been there for years with all the rust on it.  The side of the can had a jagged open cut where I looked through and spotted an abandoned small hornets’ nest attached to the inside wall of the can!  It is beautiful and it sits on my collection shelf.  No one knows what’s inside the can until I point it out to them; not too many observers are impressed with my find.

Another favorite is the salal leaf after it has gone through its cycle of life; the nutrients are shut off from reaching the leaf causing it to wither and drop from stem to ground.  While on the ground the leaf decays further into a very delicate frame  with only the strong veins  remaining to indicate the former shape of the leaf.   It endures the hardship of the weather changes for a few months and then finally disappears.  If I spot a leaf in this fine delicate state, it gets picked up and brought home to add to my collection of dried decayed leaves in a fiber woven basket.

The four leaves in the above sketch  show the progression of a salal leaf during its early stage to decay.

No song birds this morning


Within the last month the songbirds had returned to the island for their summer mating.  It was obvious they had found their favorite mating territory by their loud cheerful cacophony of songs that raised my spirits during the warm sunny day walks.  It was a blessing to my ears; their music brought back those feelings of spring that had been dormant during the long cold and gray days of winter.

This early morning when I started down the driveway through the forest, I noticed the quietness around me.  It was silent!  Then, I realized the songbirds weren’t singing announcing their day was going to be bright and warm; a perfect day for collecting food, playing and attracting mates.  So, the two mile walk I did on my own without nature music to accompany me along the way.  Further into my walk big chunky rain drops begin to fall intermittently with large snow flakes grounding all airborne animals from flying.  The birds must have sensed the minor storm arriving this morning giving them a few more winks of sleep until the weather improved.

My thoughts drifted at that moment to the birds behavior during these quiet periods:  Where do they locate, how do they maintain body weight if unable to search for their daily  food intake and how do they keep warm?

In the painting, I used crayon resist hoping the white snow drops would show through the watercolor paint but they do not show on the print.   The scanner  results always shows the white paper gray; so you are looking at gray snow flakes.