Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Treasures from the Forest

Today, my chimney man came to clean the wood stove and stove pipe.  He measured how dry is my wood and declared it the best he had ever seen measuring 14-16% moisture.  He said it doesn't get better than that.  I try to stay a year ahead of the wood so it has time to "season" and dry.  Burns much more efficiently!  He also installed a screen to the cap to keep out birds.  I had two bluebirds fly into the stove pipe and die in the fire box last spring and I didn't want that to happen again!  

I have been painting en plein air like a madwoman every day.  Backpacking a heavy pack into the forest, up and down the hills, can be a real challenge.  Especially given a sledding accident back in 2007 where I slammed into a tree at about fifty miles per hour, smashing my back.  For a few moments, with my face in the snow unable to catch my breath, I honestly thought that was the end of the trail, literally!  But I was finally able to get a breath and lift up out of the snow.  Everything, while in extreme pain, seemed to be working.  Working enough to walk a mile home through the snow.  

Anywho, I have been backpacking out into the forest every day to paint the fall colors.  We are having a very late fall this year.  Normally, the colors are over and done by the end of October and, certainly, no later than November 4.  Usually, my last plein air fall painting is done on the 28th and then a storm comes through to knock down all the leaves and the trees are bare.  There will still be lots of beautiful rusts and purple colors but the bright, fall colors are over.  This year, the colors weren't even starting to change until mid-0ctober and not peaking until the end of the month!  This year, golds and rusts dominate and there are not so many reds.  But I love painting all the shades of gold!  

Since the fall colors are only here for about three weeks, I cannot miss a single day of painting!  Hence, painting like crazy every day!  But, today, the afternoon got later and the shadows grew longer by the time the chimney man finished and left.  My back was sore and I was generally tired all over from going out every day of the past two weeks with a heavy pack.  I decided to just hike my trail and scout out painting locations and enjoy just being in the forest, sans pack and paint.  

Along the way, I found a nest fallen from a tree along the ridge top and then an old deer skull along the creek.  When I got back to my property, I used the apple picker with it's ten foot long handle to pick a hat full of apples.  The tree has been most productive this year.  I stop nearly every day to pick a handful of apples to enjoy, fresh and cold.  Sometimes I pick a bag full to save for later.  They may not be pretty but they are organic, bug free, and very tasty!  The hawk feather I found a couple days ago along the trail.  That'll look great tucked in the band of a hat.  The geodes and crinoids are from earlier expeditions.  

Walking and painting in the forest is my passion and my addiction.  I feel so much peace in the forest.  A day is simply not complete until I have spent time in the woods, along the creek, amongst the hills and cradled in the hollers. 

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