My drawings and paintings on exhibit!

Many of you know how much I love Sandy Neck and the Town of Barnstable is now hosting an exhibit of my ink drawings and paintings done at Sandy Neck or inspired by the nature there in the large Town Council Hearing Room as well as the smaller hearing room to the side. They are hosted through the Art on Loan program through the HyArts Council and will be on view through October 18 during regular town hall business hours.

Some of what will be on display include these pages from my watercolor sketchbook, painted on location….

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Ink drawings….004and some larger watercolors….

003I hope you will stop by! Barnstable’s Town Hall is on South St. in Hyannis but you can walk there from Main. St. as well.

 

Barnstable Land Trust’s Fuller Farm

Every now and then I get to go to a new magical place that instantly becomes one of my favorites and this new acquisition by the Barnstable Land Trust is just such a place. Fuller Farm is in Marstons Mills and is about 23 acres of rolling farmland, pasture and hay fields. It is a throwback to a time when Marstons Mills was full of dairy farms but which is now unique in its size and untouched nature.

I went for a walk there recently with a group from the BLT and it is truly a beautiful piece of land. We are hoping to find woodcocks there this spring since the land is quite perfect for them and borders a nearby cranberry bog and Middle Pond.

The buildings remain just as they have been for over a century. Some additions have been made over the years but the original buildings are 150 years old.

I’m a sucker for rusty old tools and weathered wood…

The day we were there was cold and windy but we did find proof of recent visits by red foxes…

and coyotes. In fact there is some thought that coyotes are denning there though we did not explore that idea too much…coyotes and foxes will move their dens if they think they’ve been discovered and since both species should be having young about now we didn’t want to disturb them…but we did find some scat near the area we thought they’d be…

If you’re wondering how we knew which was fox and which was coyote…..we really can’t be totally sure except one was quite a bit smaller than the other.Both had lots of fur, bones and teeth and one even had small rocks. Go figure on that one…

There’s a pussy willow tree there though most of the pussy willows themselves were passing by…

And we were quite surprised to find blooming violets in a sunny patch since it was still mid March!

Fuller Farm is going to be a wonderful addition to the Barnstable Land Trust’s holdings and kudos to them for keeping this wild and wonderful place open fields and keeping it free from development!

Let the kids loose….

This post was originally published in the Cape Codder on August 10, 2012 as my column, Nature’s Ways. It has been a popular column so I am reprinting it here for readers who do not get the Cape Codder (since it is not available online)

Gather any group of folks of a certain age and at some point in the conversation the point will be made that when we were young our parents sent us out for the day and told us to come home when the street lights came on. Some had a bell to listen for, some had a lesson to be home for but mostly, we ran pretty freely through our neighborhoods, the woods, the fields and around the ponds. It doesn’t take long for these same groups to lament the lack of freedom today’s kids have accompanied by a lot of head shaking and making of concerned faces but no solutions are really offered. Everyone just agrees that the world has changed, alas….. Continue reading

Early Summer Field Flowers

Our calendars say summer is still a few days away but according to the meteorologists the meteorological summer began on June 1 and it sure has been feeling and looking like summer here on Cape Cod already.

I’ve been out in fields and meadows a lot lately so thought I’d share some of my field flower  photos.

Yarrow is always easy to spot. Some of it is yellow and some is pink but so far all I’ve seen is the white variety.

Indigo is just coming into bloom and is very common in our fields and along roadsides.

If you look at it closely you can see it is related to the peas.

You might also see sweet pea–but it is not a wildflower, just an escapee…

Several kinds of clover are in bloom, including the common white clover we have in our yards

And there is also the pretty pink or red clover as well as the fuzzy rabbit foot clover…

And of course everyone’s favorite–including the Monarch butterfly’s–the milkweed…

I’ll post more over the week but these are all in bloom right now and easy to find.

Finding a lovely bog orchid….

One of the pleasures of wandering about with no real agenda or expectations is that one sometimes comes across a real gem….

How beautiful is this little flower? It was just standing there with another of its kind in a little old wild cranberry bog in the middle of the dunes in Sandy Neck in Barnstable and was only about 5-6″ high.. I was there leading an art and nature group this past weekend and we had special permission to do some meandering but this little cranberry bog is actually right off to the side of a main trail going out to the beach from the marsh side–about 4 miles out.

This sweet ‘bog orchid’ is known as Rose Pogonia, Pogonia ophioglossoides and according to Mario DiGregorio is not as rare as you might think. In fact, back in the day this little flower was so commonly found in cranberry bogs that young girls were paid a penny a plant to rid the bogs of these pesky “weeds.”

The other name for this plant is Snakeweed, due to its ragged, tongue like appearance. Look for it in old cranberry bogs, especially in dune areas like High Head and Sandy Neck. You can find more information in the wonderful Cape Cod Wildflowers: A Vanishing Heritage by Mario DiGregorio and Jeff Wallner.

Watching a front move in…

When we arrived at the beach around noon the sun was shining brightly, the sky was blue and there were some big puffy clouds on the horizon…

As we walked along the shore the clouds got thicker and thicker…

They looked very dramatic over the dunes…

and on the backside of the dunes the bright light lit up the sand against the violet and blue clouds…

We began to feel a few drops of rain and began to walk a little faster….

and faster….

and the rain got a little heavier but all the while parts of the sky remained bright blue…

Yep, just another day at the beach….

Photos taken today on Kalmus Beach in Hyannis.

Where’s the bear?

If you’re on the Cape or anywhere near, you know we have a very famous visitor here–a young black bear! Everyone’s talking about it and the jokes and stories are multiplying faster than mosquitoes around here. This guy is on the move and was noted in Brewster early yesterday morning. Well, it just so happened that my daughter, grandson and I were also headed to Brewster yesterday morning and yes, we were pretty excited about maybe seeing the bear along the way.

We were headed to the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History and when we got there we found we were far from alone. A news helicopter was overhead, people with cameras and binoculars were everywhere and down the road were police cars and other official cars from various agencies charged with checking out the bear and keeping people safe.

Behind this scene were several dozen people scanning the marshes and nearby woods. This was taken at the corner of Paine’s Creek Rd. and Rt. 6A. Everyone was in a happy, anticipatory mood and I couldn’t help but feel that this little bear has made a lot of people happy. For all the chatter about how disconnected from nature we all are this moment proved that really, people want to be connected to nature. They are even a bit excited about it. Now, will these same people be excited 10 years from now if bears actually begin to repopulate the Cape? That’s another story. I remember when people were excited that coyotes were here back in the beginning. These days very few people are excited about coyotes and in fact many actually hate them.

In the end none of us saw the bear….

But over the past week we’ve seen lots of other things like this lobster shedding its shell in an aquarium at the museum…

or these lovely Jack-in-the-pulpit flowers in East Sandwich

or beautiful scenes like this one at Sandy Neck

One day this past week I even was witness to a wild swarming of winged carpenter ants that came and went in a matter of hours.

So……no bear photos but a great week to be outside nonetheless!

Late May on the beach….

It is only a few days before Memorial Day and the Cape Cod beaches are beautiful…and still pretty quiet so come for a walk with me…

First we’ll take a turn by the sweet smelling rosa rugosa’s which are blooming really early this year…

We will stop to admire the beach peas, also blooming really early….and while we’re at it we’ll look out over Nantucket Sound…

Here’s a close up of those lovely beach peas…

We’ll enjoy the view of the sliver that remains of Egg Island, that only shows up at low tide. That’s Great Island in Yarmouth in the background.

We’ll stop to look across Lewis Bay in the amazing light…

Check out some courting least terns…

and smile at the ones lined up at the edge of the water…

And then we’ll take one last long look at the sand, sea and sky before we head back to work…

Painting a few eggs and babies….

Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to go to some wonderful places, including gull nesting colonies, while working with people doing various bird studies, etc. The nest that I painted here was off Plymouth and I did many sketches and took many photos during the few days I was there helping someone weigh and measure baby gulls. These are most likely herring gulls since they were the prevalent bird nesting in that area but I can’t swear to that–when this tiny the baby black backs look similar and so do their eggs. Gull nests are built on the ground and have an average of 3 eggs. The baby in this nest has just hatched and you can see the pip, or hole being made by the next gull that will hatch.

I thought it might be fun to show you my process while I painted this. I don’t pretend it is perfectly done but it was fun to do.

First, I sketch in the basic shapes with a pencil and then lay in the first watercolor wash.

I build up the painting, layer by layer by adding different mixes of colors

Watercolors need to have their layers built up gradually, allowing for a lot of transparency and play with colors and their complements…

I start to add some details…

Continuing to add layers I am darkening the darkest parts but beginning to add more layers to the eggs and bird, too

More details, more layers, another wash or two…

and it’s done! The finished piece is 8 x 10″ and makes a nice addition to my bird painting portfolio. I hope you enjoyed seeing how it was done.