Monday, March 23, 2020

More Pen and Ink Drawings

   Here are a few more of the current series of pen and ink drawings. The first one is of a Cerulean Warbler, a treetop dweller in deep forests that most of us never see, but he can be heard high overhead in the spring as we walk under the canopy.

Cerulean Warbler
   I remember discovering Showy Orchis in the woods near Avoca when I lived in that area. Realizing that orchids live not only in the tropics but the midwest too was a big surprise. I used to hunt the woods for Lady Slippers and all the other orchid family plants that lived there, just to see them bloom.

Orchis spectabilis - Showy Orchis
Arisaema triphyllum- Jack in the Pulpit
         A creek runs at the base of Coon Rock hill, between Arena and Spring Green. The area is marshy and forested, or used to be years ago. Mosquitos were enormous there, rattlesnakes could be found in the rocky ledges near the cave at the prow of the ridge and one day I caught a five foot long bull snake there. I was riding on the narrow farm road and she was on her way across the road. I jumped off Fira, and holding the reins in one hand grabbed Snake's tail parts in my left hand, and held on. I really didn't have a plan past that moment, but Snake did. She wrapped the front of her body around a convenient fence post and stared back at me. Fira pulled back on my right, Snake pulled back on my left. We all stared at each other for some time as I assessed the merits of the two choices offered, and finally I had to choose; walk home after Fira runs off or let Snake go. Large bull snakes such as her were common then but now are rare or maybe gone completely.
   Small family farms filled the sandy flat valley, but the steep slopes and marshy base of Coon Rock seemed a wild land at the time. My mother and I headed for the cave one hot day and ended up wading in deep water through the marshy woods at the north side of the hill. As we got on higher ground we noticed the Jack in the Pulpits; they were everywhere and they were huge. They were so large we measured them; some were three feet tall. The flowers were big goblets, some with water in them. I wonder if any place in the midwest now can grow a Jack in the pulpit that large.
   The past few years our smaller Jack in the pulpit residents have a hard time keeping their flowers. Just as the morels pop up,  Jack in the pulpits start to bloom and that's when turkeys roam the woods for a spring feast. By the time we get up and get out in the woods, the turkeys have nipped every morel off at the base and also eaten all the Jack in the pulpit flowers. That must be a tasty combination for turkeys.

Thanks for visiting, and thanks for sharing this blog!

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