Peak Foliage

Peak Foliage
October on Preston Pond

Brief History of Preston Pond

Born from glaciers about 13,500 years ago, the original pond was only what is now the wider north end. Probably about 10,000 years ago, as the modern forest started to take root, beavers colonized the pond and expanded it (old dams are under the water surface).

With the arrival of Europeans in New York and coastal New England, a vigorous fur trade grew in the 17th Century. Beavers are particularly vulnerable to trapping since they are easy to find and they were wiped out by the 18th Century. With no beavers to maintain the dams, Preston Pond drained and appears on 18th and 19th Century maps as only the smaller original glacial north end.

Reintroduction in the 1920's and 1930's led to beavers recolonizing Preston Pond. By chance, they arrived the same year my grandfather bought the property in 1946. Ever since then, beavers have lived unmolested (by humans) on Preston Pond - until February 2016. They have never caused flooding problems or over-eaten the surrounding forest stand to the point that they abandoned the pond. Their population has doubtlessly had its ups and downs, but they have managed their affairs here for the last 70 years as beavers did for millions of years: on their own, despite some of their top predators having been exterminated by humans.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Fire & Ice; Art from the Town Forest

OK, long delayed by photographing otters, here is the newest art from the Town Forest (off my easel anyway):
"Fire & Ice" Short-tailed Weasel and Downy Woodpecker 9" x 12" acrylic on board
I still have some small adjustments to make, but it has been put up for a bit (shorten the Downy's tail, nit-picky stuff like that) while I get other paintings going. It started last month on a walk up to the top of Libbys Lookout. On the way up the hill, I came  upon these along side the tracks of a fleeing snowshoe hare. The paired gait is shorter than my mitten makes it look - about 18" - so I think it was a Short-tailed Weasel and not a Fisher. Anyhow, that was in February.                                          

Then a couple of weeks later, on another hike up Libbys, right near the top just before sunset, the light put on a show (that is why I hike up there around sunset a lot).

It got me thinking, and that (eventually) gets me into the studio.
Years ago, I drew paintings out first in great detail. Now I just start slapping paint.

A Snowshoe Hare wouldn't quite fit the scene, but I knew who would. The bird feeding station is right behind my easel out on the studio deck, so I hung up two suet feeders. In no time I had all the reference for Downy Woodpeckers taking sudden flight that I could want (I video taped them).

At this point I was not liking the weasel's pose, so did some anatomical doodling.
And decided to change the position of the front leg entirely and add some snow to help the shape of it blend into the surroundings: a theme I wanted in the painting: hiding in plain sight that would highlight the superb camouflage of the Ermine stage of the weasel's pelage.
And there it is ... for now.

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