A Promise of spring?
Or a desperate race to survive?The leaves blanketing the path rustled and crunched as I climbed along the hillside under a hot dry sky. Trees and bushes anxiously pushed their buds to open or stood still and silent panting in the searing heat of an 80 degree day, unusual for mid April.
In spite of flood warnings two days ago due to torrential rain, North West Connecticut is till officially in a severe drought and the Fire danger is listed as high. Climbing higher I left the vernal pools with their frantic chorus of peepers, chiming frogs, and clacking wood frogs to finally fill my water containers at a cascade of water pouring over and under the rocks. The clear cool water seemed in such a great hurry to leave the dry steep hillside. This hillside is unique in New England in having over 80 different ephemeral spring flowers along one short half mile of trail. The micro climate produced by a North East facing hillside forested in mixed hardwoods and hemlock and covered in shattered glacial rock with seasonal and intermittent streams has made a perfect home for these spring flowers. Only now with the hemlock dying out due to the adelgid infestations and poor snow cover with drought the ephemeral flowers seem to be struggling.
I found my favorite clump of round leaf hepatica and sat in the path to paint. The hot dry wind dried my watercolor wash before I even got it down. Tiny soft petals came out with hard edges and spots of dried paint. It was hard to paint freely or maintain any feel of freshness. The colors on my pallet skinned over and grew hard. I moved; tried some spring beauties and trout lilies (not blooming yet) added wake robins bursting upwards to unfurl their leafs and a froth of corn flower or Dutchman’s breeches. The woods were empty hot and silent. Even the birds had sought a cooler place. But one army of animals found me: ticks. When one crawled across my pallett I called it quits and headed home.
Singing the praises of having a deep well and a lovely new shower I took advantage of both head to toe. Tomorrow I’ll venture forth again. After all I loved being in the quiet woods ticks or no ticks. Perhaps shady brook will be a little kinder and my painting made easier.
Angel in the dust