Walking in the morning sun

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The other morning the sun met me as I stepped out of the shade into the warm bright glow of the sun.   The rays filtered through the tall dark trees laying long shadows across the road.  The change in the weather was a welcome and it felt like a warm spring day in the middle of winter.

The first song birds have returned to the island singing their joyful songs.  It was delightful to hear them after a winter of silence while they were in their winter habitats.  They were perched in the trees keeping an eye on me as I strolled through my neighbor’s driveway dreaming of the colors and fragrances of spring coming in the near future; following with  long warm days of summer.

The sharp white angles of the Cascade mountains

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Sharp shocking white angles

cutting into the icy blue sky

winds passing over the Cascades

bringing a chill to cut the warmth 

of the morning sun

Another day too cold for a walk along the beach so I sat in the cabin and sketched the Cascade mountain range with its sharp white angles piercing into the icy blue sky.  From where I was sketching the view was sharply clear in brilliant shades of blues with Puget Sound in the foreground and the Cascades in the distance.

The Cascades divide the more humid, wet and cooler western side of our state from the very arid desert (hot in summer and cold in winter) eastern side.  The tall mountain range starts in Canada and ends in northern California changing weather patterns to not reach eastern Washington.  Consequently, the west side of the range keeps the clouds and rain hanging around for some time.

I sketched this scene using my watercolor pencils plus a small wet paint brush to spread the color only in certain areas while maintaining the textural feel of a sketch rather than a painting.   John Law demonstrates  this style using his watercolor pencils on his website (google John Law, artist)   He has several free lengthy tutorials that are excellent if you want to learn how to draw.

An Exotic Orchid

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Exotic colors

Gracing my kitchen window

with sweet aroma

Today’s icy cold morning walk did not give me inspiration to collect objects of nature to paint for my journal so I decided to add some haiku lines to my recent painting of the orchid living in my house.  Sitting on my large kitchen window sill facing west is an orchid plant given to me from my lovely sister-in-law, Shirley.  It’s in a happy spot as it soaks up the rays during bright cloudy days or sunny days along with our very cold dark nights during the winter.  Its botanical name is cymbidium and grows in the Himalayas, a climate similar to the U.S. Pacific Coast.  The large plant has long grass type leaves and wavy thin air roots.  Best of all it has a strong exotic fragrance which I think might be unusual for an orchid.

It bloomed for the first time since being adopted into our house; a celebration indeed!  The blossoms have been open for several weeks now so I thought it best to paint it before they wilt and drop off the long stem.

Thank you, Shirley, your plant lives on in memory of you.

 

 

 

A few dry brown plants

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Fading brown blossoms

Withstanding cold wet winters

 Dry withering shapes

Yesterday, I collected a few leftover blossoms from the shrubs and plants along the side of the road while on my morning walk.  These scraggly faded flowers have lost their colorful luster of summer and now  stand dry in shades of brown and gold.  They are fragile and snap off their dead stems and branches when picked.   With their lustrous colors of summer gone, their  beauty has not disappeared but instead blends into the subtle landscape colors of nearby native evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs.

(I may have finally written a successful 5 7 5 syllable haiku.  Let me know if I need improvement.   Thank you.)

Just One of Those Days

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It has been one of those darn frustrating days I find myself working on  an art project and then discover I should have reviewed the important part of the project before beginning it.    Remember the standard rule:   measure twice then cut!  Oh sigh.

It took me two days to paint with watercolors a few small sketches on hot press w.c. paper:  An agate, shamrock, and a blue robin’s egg shell I collected while on several walks; and a heron that I observed while taking photo shots of water birds along the lagoon trail..  Since the sketches were of nature,  the idea of adding some haiku for each sketch was born.   So it took another day carefully arranging words in 3 lines relating to each sketch in what I thought was Haiku form.

According to ancient Japanese haiku standards there are 3 lines: First line contains 5 syllables; second 7; and third 5, with a total of 17 syllables.   The painting project was completed so I enthusiastically went forward with the haiku expression using what I thought to be the haiku style, 7 5 7 with a total of 19 syllables not knowing I had reversed the numbers.

The next part of the project was taking several photo shots of the finished project using my camera and scanner then after over 30 attempts finally produced a somewhat acceptable copy to share on my W.P. post.  “Thank goodness, finally it’s completed and ready.”  “First better do some checking on spelling of haiku” and that’s when I discovered half my day just went down the drain!

Not letting this failure get the best of me, I decided to post the project even with the broken rule in haiku.   Even still, I enjoyed the challenge of arranging words to form a meaningful expression with words relating to my sketches.  I will definitely do this again using the correct form.  This was my first attempt creating haiku so please advise me with your critique.

Red rose hips, bare alder branches and a Red Crowned Kinglet

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I love the colors the earth offers us during our gray, cold and damp winters on the island; even the earth offers a mixture of enjoyable fragrances to complement the winter scene.  The grasses remain a washed out mixture of light greens, ochres  and umbers in the open fields.  Most common bushes surrounding the open fields on the island are the white winter berry and Nootka rose bushes full of rose hips and deep red wine branches at this time of the year.  From a distance these bushes contrast against the dark evergreens and other shrubs creating a striking scene.  In this painting, a group of tall alder trees are growing in the distance further behind the mass of rose bushes.  The catkins on the higher branches of the alder are slowly forming on the branches of the alder  turning  a mass of mauve.

On the same day I walked my neighborhood roads, several of the Gold Crowned Kinglets were hopping along the road picking up any speck of food they could find.  They are a very small brown bird with a yellow cap on their head, almost invisible on the ground.  They are unafraid of humans, vehicles and animals.  I can walk within a foot of them while they remain busy collecting seeds and scraps; often times, I have nearly stepped on one while it was hopping along collecting its scraps.

There is also a Red Crown Kinglet that I have never seen in our area until the same day of this walk!   It was a thrill; its crown was a brilliant bright red….oh, how I wished I had my camera since I was able to follow the bird to my driveway before it flew to the near salal bushes.  It was my treasure for the day.

Marine life on a cold December day on Puget Sound

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BRRRR, the  unusually  windy and icy cold winter day walk along the shoreline at a beach on Whidbey Island discouraged me from my usual 2 mile stretch.  So I turned back and walked to a warm cabin to enjoy a warm blazing fire in the wood stove and enjoy the wildlife activity from a nearby window.

Looking out at the choppy steel waters my eye caught the marine ducks trying to catch a meal deep in the wild dark salty waters.    So, I grabbed the binoculars to observe the interesting activity of the Pacific Sea Gull and Surf Scoter.  The Surf Scoter was seriously focused on deep sea diving to grab a fish or other marine life for its daily meal.  While the Pacific Sea Gull was stocking very close to the scoter waiting for an opportunity to  grab the specimen before the scoter quickly consumed the catch.  The sea gull was so near the scoter, I thought it would soon attack it for the live fish or sea animal.

Further in the distance was a lone Pacific Loon diving under the water surface bringing up its catch from the deep water.  It struggled with the fish on the water surface before it was able to manipulate it at an angle to slip down the loon’s esophagus; then down the loon went for more goodies.   I think loons are not social birds.  I always see the Pacific Loon alone on the salt water searching for food but never near another loon.  Loons mobility is more successful on the water or in the air.  Their legs are further back on their bodies which makes it difficult for them to walk on land.

Sea gulls can be very aggressive birds in obtaining food from other birds, or their own kind  crying a variety of loud calls to attract other sea gulls to the scene.   I have observed them to attack a variety of birds during all the seasons; the crows have learned to be very cautious of them and will fly when gulls behave aggressively.  But, when a gull spots an eagle silently gliding toward a fresh sea food item the sea gulls are gathered around, they will suddenly scatter.  That’s when we look for the eagle arriving like a quick jet for its prey.

Even with the few minutes of observering the marine birds on the Puget Sound waters three days ago, I gained so much pleasure and knowledge of their activities; now I share those moments with those whom browse my journal.

The Hawthorne berries have been harvested by the birds

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The brilliant red berries have been decorative since late summer on the Hawthorne trees growing in the scrub on an empty field in our neighborhood.   I walk by these trees almost every day while on my neighborhood stroll, observing  the seasonal birds with their busy activities in the trees.   Perched on a branch or flying from one branch to another pecking at bugs, seeds and the bright red plump berries hanging from the branches.

As the season matures, the leaves wither losing their color then leave the branches of the Hawthorne trees but the berries remain firm to the bare branches as they turn a deep burnt red.   Mostly the winter robins and flickers are attracted to the winter berries left on the stark gnarly dark branches for their main food supply.  The summer and fall foods have diminished during the cold, gray, wet and dormant months and they need a high powered carbohydrate food to keep them warm and active.  They are there everyday harvesting as many berries that their beaks can hold before competing birds get to the berries first.  Now, only a few really dark berries remain on the bare branches.

The young trees plus the overly mature trees now covered with thick lichen standout against the dark evergreens growing at the edge of the field.  The rugged old trees with the lichen clinging to the trunks and branches will eventually decay, break apart and fall to the ground creating cover and nests for the small birds in the spring.

The young trees are fast growers; next spring their leaves will appear, small birds will hide in the mass of leaves,  build their nests and sing again to attract mates plus bring joy to still and quiet listeners.  Again, the trees will bear fruit painting spring colors to the native flora and attract the wild fauna.

 

A Cold Frosty Morning Walk

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The early morning frost covered the green grass creating sparkly silver green blades; old cedar fence post covered with a blanket of crusty frost, even the lichen living on the fence posts looked stiff and cold; clinging frost to the old rusty barbwire where a few Oregon Juncos and robins perched warming their small bodies in the bright sunshine.  The lone road was striking in appearance with the brilliant sun rays shining adjacent to the shadows from the tall evergreens.

The early morning walk was exciting  as I observed how nature changed the landscape overnight but it was also cold to my outer extremities not covered with protection from the cold.   The walk soon ended back in my warm comfortable house where I could see the cold outdoors from  inside the windows.

The Mushroom Story

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“The Oregon Junco quickly takes a short hop on the large mushroom to get a “bird’s eye view” of the black beetle as it transverses a fallen leaf  during its escape to safety beneath the shade of moist decaying leaf debris under the mushroom.  Possibly the beetle will  be successful on its escape to safety due to its size and undesirable taste.  The shy and quiet wild jack rabbit is nearby happily nibbling away on the short green grass and weeds all the while watching the Junco’s morning actions.”  

Mushrooms have surged from the ground through the downed decaying leaves, twigs, weeds and debris this fall.  They can be seen growing, almost over night, along side the road under the overhanging branches of the tall evergreens.    The varieties were plentiful  each having its own shape, size, color plus some being very scary and appearing to be highly toxic.  I have never disciplined myself to learn the botanical names of all the mushrooms growing in the area where I live…so I am unable to  identify this particular one.

The above large mushroom  was at least six inches in diameter growing near the road where I take my morning walks.  Its appearance inspired my thoughts to what the scene might be later during the day when humans and vehicles are not disturbing the resident wildlife.