Dewdrop Excursion

19 11 2015

The possibility of bighorn sheep in rut lured Marc, Maggie and me out to Dewdrop Range several weekends ago.  November’s beginning in Kamloops is as fickle as March’s ending: sporadic warmth belying cold’s imminent possibility.  Rather than climbing up into the hills, we dropped down over the side towards Kamloops Lake and found a hidden valley–really just a eroded gully–with more than enough natural history to keep us busy for most of the day.

dewdrop_xsectionSelaginella and Homalothecium grew in dense mats atop a talus slope; a Hairy Woodpecker gleaned from, of all things, a mullein stalk.dewdrop_woodpeckervs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the day wore on, the sun slipped behind and then in front of clouds, casting long shadows across steep slopes.

hidden alley_landscape_small

Running this way and that, bighorn tracks and scat litter this landscape.dewdrop_bighornscat

When it is time, I pack up pens and paper, brushes and paints, feeling the deep satisfaction that comes with paying close attention to the more-than-human world.  A good way, I think, following our new dog Freya up and out of the valley, to spend a Sunday.

hidden alley_freya_vsm




Summer Leavings

16 11 2015

Mtswanson_view_smallView across the North Okanagan from the Mt. Swanson Overlook

 

Now, when the first snow flies, the leavings of summer I find earlier in my field journal warms my skin and me reminds me of the linkage between the seasons.  Winter–summer: different positions on the same orbit.  It’s a thought hard to hold as the the wind blows hard against the house and big snowflakes fall.  I think so often of my field journal as the tool that allows me to explore the present.  Today I am reminded how it can also bring the past forward:  a week removed from normal time, surrounded by family, on the north end of Okanagan Lake.  This valley is terrain I shared with my sister and brother in our childhood and it feels right to be back here with my siblings and our extended families.  Over the course of a week we make time for beachside reading, bird walks along field margins, and a uphill climb through the wetter forest leading up to Mt. Rose and Mt. Swanson.  It’s a landscape I know better in memory than in current time, but the view from the Mt. Swanson has surprisingly pull–even now more than 35 years after I once called this valley home.

meadow_view_small

The fall of Short Creek, cascading down over steep rock is rivaled only by the incline of the wooden steps climbing its height.  What a surprise to find crossbills and pine siskins gleaning insects from the watery seeps lining the cliff face.  It’s not until I read my notes from our last climb that I remember how hot our visit here was with last summer’s record breaking heat.  In summer I wished for the chill of winter;  as winter descends, I long for hot August.  Is this what I do?  Wish away my ability to revel in the present?

short_creek waterfall_small

 

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Finding Place in Golden, BC June 19-Sept 9

12 06 2015

 

AGOG Poster Baldwin June 2015_small




Laura’s Collection

10 04 2015

Take a look!  One of my illustrated essays just came out in Terrain.org–a favorite journal of mine!  I’m unabashedly pleased.

http://terrain.org/2015/nonfiction/lauras-collection-finding-community-through-field-work/

terrain_image

 

 




Keeping Track: Nature Journaling as Discovery Workshop (Aug 30, 2014)

8 08 2014

 

Sky Pond at Edgewood Blue from the West

I’ve been asked to provide (and am delighted to do so) a nature journaling workshop in the Upper Clearwater Valley at the wonderful property known as Edgewood Blue, just as the summer comes to a close.  For those that might be interested, here’s the description

Keeping Track:  Nature Journaling as Discovery

Lyn Baldwin

The Wells Gray landscape runs rich with the multi-faceted phenomena of a living, breathing world—phenomena that are all too easy to miss as we pass through immersed in our busy lives.  Illustrated field journals (or nature journals) provide the ideal format for us to record the sparkle of individual moments, the pull of unmeasurable phenomena.  This hands-on workshop will use a series of drawing and writing exercises to locate ourselves in moment and place.  No previous expertise needed, beginners welcome!  Participants should bring a sketch book and pencil and pens with which to draw and write.   Other portable art supplies (water colour sets, coloured pencils) are optional.

Location:  Edgewood Blue, Clearwater Valley Road, Upper Clearwater, BC

Date:  Aug 30, 2014, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm

 For more information:  lybaldwin@tru.ca

Or call the Wells Gray Info Center 250-674-3334




The wrong side of the orbit

23 03 2014

I can’t help it;  we’ve just passed into spring but there was snow falling all day yesterday and I’ve been playing with images from the other side of the orbit.  My appreciation for these two sections of the orbit that we call spring and fall equinox increases with each year.  It’s a time of balance–something that is so lacking during winter’s press or summer’s extravagance.  Light equals dark.  Desire always fuels my springtime investigations; despair (relief?) dogs my autumn excursions.   Maybe it’s just emotion, maybe it’s just the reality of falling headlong into another school year, but if I give any seasons short-shrift in my field notebooks, it’s autumn.  So yesterday when the snow kept me inside, I pulled out my file of reference photos and field sketches from Autumn in the Thompson River Valley.   It’s palette is not unlike that of spring.  I may be paying attention to the wrong side of the orbit, but at least the colours resonate with those just emerging from the snow. 

Path into Pine Park, along the Tranquille River

 

 

 

 




Winter’s Gradient

7 02 2014

 

Marc, Maggie and I snowshoe into the upper slopes of Botany Pond.  Maggie asks us to leave early enough that we’ll arrive in the “pre-dawn.”  We don’t make it that early, but early enough that familiar contours are draped in low-lying clouds–shades of gray upon gray.  I keep thinking about diffusion gradients, especially when we find lichen icicles.  Elongate extensions of hoar frost draping low-lying Douglas-fir branches in downward pointed spears of white. 

On the way out, I fill the page with an event map, reveling in the chance to look closely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




“Not Just a Snapshot” on CBC’s North by Northwest Program

18 01 2014

To my utter delight, earlier this week I spoke with Sheryl MacKay, the host of North by Northwest on CBC radio, about the work in Not Just a Snapshot:  The Thompson Drainage through Field Journal Art.  In anticipation of the interview (which is airing this morning, Saturday January 18), I’m posting images of the pieces Sheryl and I talked about in the interview.  The link to the podcast can be found here http://www.cbc.ca/nxnw/

Scroll down to the entry for January 18 and my segment of the program starts at just about 20 minutes into the podcast.

 

Hill and River.  Shadow box containing two field journal volumes. Pen and Watercolour, with accompanying artifacts.

 

 

Tranquille River Image

Winter’s Press.  Shadow Box with Field Journal Painting.  Pen and Watercolour on Paper.

June’s Roar.  Shadow Box with Field Journal Painting.  Pen and Watercolour on Paper.




Not Just a Snapshot: The Thompson Drainage through Field Journal Art

3 01 2014

It’s happening!  Much of the work that I have completed over the last 12 months will be on display during January at the Kamloops Art Council, and over the next little while I will post more work from the show here!

My good friend Beki suggested that I make postings to this blog more regular, so I will endeavor over the next 12 months to make sure I post on the first Friday of each month (more often if I can, but on the first Friday for sure).

For now, I’ll just include a written description of the show:

“Every landscape is storied and we all come to know these stories in our own way. Natural history field journals, with their easy confluence of art and science, promote a multi-layered conversation with the land. Within the journal format (bound in a book or spread across a full sheet of paper) watercolor paintings erupt between lines of handwritten text, poetry jostles for space alongside natural history observations, and “to do” lists languish beside sightings of returning songbirds. Too often overlooked, the Thompson Drainage runs rich with the stories of a living, breathing world. In this exhibit, field journal art documents and celebrates the natural history we can find just beyond our backyards.”




Rocks don’t lie

10 03 2013

But paint does.

I can’t help it;in early March, the layered landscape of the Tranquille River burgeons with the beginning of spring, but oh so slowly.    Out with Maggie and Marc and Shasta on the floodplain of the Tranquille River, the shape of the hills to the north are lyrical.  Their colour, however, is of dust.  This is a world in which green has been sapped by winter’s press.  Home at my desk, playing with paint, I can’t help but push the colours further than reality.  It is a exercise in wishful thinking, of dreaming in the spring.

The reality is one of layered debris.  Nearly everywhere I look, I find the debris of the last fecund season.

Broken twigs of the last season litter the ground beneath the cottonwood trees; golden brown flower capsules curve on the ground.

 

This is a layered landscape, built of the shifting debris of the Tranquille River and the flooding Thompson River. Down on the delta, along the shores of Kamloops Lake, rocks pile in cobble bars and build terraces.  Their forms are varied and I collect them, weighting my pockets with their history.


Each year, each beginning spring, I haunt this landscape.  In the Thompson Valley, it is one of the first places to hear meadowlarks sing, to feel the sun ray’s build into warmth, to sense the building biology.  We come out here often, but this is the first time, Marc and Maggie have come with me out to the toe of the Tranquille River.  At 9:00 am, our walk is rich with biology:  redpolls flocking, beavercut stumps, pileated woodpecker holes.  There is the enormous eagle nest perched in a tall cottonwood and the hanging sock of an oriole nest.

Maggie finds an eagle feather in the debris; later I find another.  

 Two mature eagles and one juvenile soar and float overhead, intent on their own business.

In one week–from one Sunday to another, this delta, warmed by it’s south-facing aspect goes from slumbering to alert.  I watch nearly an entire flock of blackbirds (mostly females with a few males–wing colours just coming on) raise up a ruckus in the cottonwood trees, juncos call, and the ducks gather in ever-increasing flocks on the small pond in the wildlife management area.  Bighorn sheep cluster on the sleeps just above the CN tracks–remarkably nonplussed by the long train rumbling by.

It’s all a wash, a jumble of sediment and rock, a mix of decaying debris and returning life.  I’m not the only one to spend spring days out here.  By the time Maggie and Marc and I turn to walk back out to a car, the narrow parking lot along the road is filled.  There is no denying that this land carries the trace of human activities, some recent, many more distant.  Even so, there is such rich biology here, so much that it overwhelms, nearly exhausts a body trying to keep up.  Layer me a land.