Sunday, April 11, 2021

So Look Forward to Ephemerals!

                                                         

Waterman Prairie - Pasque Flowers (Pulsatilla vulgaris)  
(photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison)

Those wildflowers of Spring - who doesn't look forward to seeing these little beauties?  I fondly think of them as "ephemeral"...they last such a short time as a whole.  But getting to see the first of the Spring is real tonic.

Waterman Prairie - Pasque Flowers (Pulsatilla vulgaris) 
(photographs - © Bruce A. Morrison)
 
 I don't usually think of Pasque Flowers (themselves) as ephemerals, although they don't last nearly long enough.  No, when I think "fleeting", I'm more inclined towards those woodland flowers that are virtually missed if I don't get to the timber often.


Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica) 
(photographs - © Bruce A. Morrison)

Spring Beauty is one flower that many people miss because it is so diminutive...the plant itself rarely taller than 6 inches, and as small as just 3 inches.  Each blossom barely larger than a third of an inch across.  I was at a childhood park along the Des Moines River in Ft Dodge (IA) visiting my wife's mother when I took a break and went down to the river timber below her place; that maybe I might catch them.  I was lucky - the ground was peppered with them.

Dutchman's Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)
(photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison)
 
While photographing the abundant Spring Beauty, I noticed carpets of other plants but almost none had bloomed yet.  I did manage to find a spring woodland flower that also grows on our own acreage - a Dutchman's Breeches.  Now these mature fairly quickly and I'm often caught late even with those growing 30 feet from my own house!  But I got lucky here ๐Ÿ˜Š
 
I wandered around the yard and grove this morning, but only see some future signs of ephemerals here and there...it was a very harsh and dry summer and fall on the property last year so I don't know what if or any affect it will have on our pasture or the grove.  Time will tell.  In the meantime I'm looking forward to more of those spring ephemerals...so happy Spring is here; wishing you a good one too!

 


 


 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

All is Good!

"Plymouth County Barn Bales"
oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison 
 
I guess I'm still trying to think positive about the faux-like Spring we had last week...it was hard to work on this painting because it was sooooo nice out!   It got into the 60's and even had some nights well above freezing - and it virtually took out the snow!  It was "that" close!  Oh well...
 
Yesterday we had a good 5 inches of snow - very heavy wet stuff...today it has snowed non-stop here, nothing heavy but persistent...looks like a winter wonderland again.

But the painting is finished and I really did enjoy this one...love thinking of summer as I work!  This image actually sat in my mind for several years...the barn was real, but it likely no longer stands.  Hard to say...I did quite a bit of repair on the structure, but decided not to give it a fresh coat of paint - it needed some "ambiance". ๐Ÿ˜‰
 
Next week is supposed to be in the 50's each day so Spring is really coming...my studio work may suffer, but all is good!
 
 

Monday, March 1, 2021

Out of the Deep Freeze and Loving It!

 

"Morning Glory" (framed)
oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison 
 
It's good to get out of the freezer! Yes it has been a frigid one the last half of February...nothing to write about, besides my fingers have been too numb to type!  Ha!  
 
Well I did try to warm things up a bit in the studio...have been doing some small commissions for people and then decided to try something just for myself...I decided a "Sunrise" was in order.  Haven't really done a sunrise just for a sunrise's sake...had done a painting many years back that had a sunrise in it, but it was done more for the mood and color play in the landscape...that was a painting called "Daybreak - Southwest Corner Fence Line".
 

"Daybreak - Southwest Corner Fence Line"
oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison
 
My latest depiction of a sunrise is "Morning Glory"...it was painted from a sunrise one morning this past August here across the valley from the house and studio.  I was a little unsure of this one as it was a very vivid sky with more color than I've ever thrown into a sky on the easel before!  But after I got into it, I was really enjoying the process!  In fact I've missed painting skies for the sake of it and do want to do more...doesn't need to be another sunrise but then again maybe so...whatever happens is fine by me.  I'll post a larger image below for more detail.
 
"Morning Glory"
oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison
 
It's finally March and this first day is a fairly pleasant (albeit somewhat chilly) one...guess that means that March has come in like a Lamb...hopefully Spring doesn't throw too many hard balls at us! But regardless, we're finally out of the deep freeze and loving it!

 

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Struggling...

 

The old John Deere Hay Rake has been a great "prop"
in the south pasture over the years - mornings in the teens
with a freezing fog can be fairly dramatic.
(photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison)

The year has started out quite pleasant...not great for driving I'm sure, but the cold foggy mornings have brought pleasant tapestry everywhere.  Its been a mild winter so far.

As far as critters visiting each day, we've had the usual Opossums and Raccoons at the bird feeders during the night and a flush of American Goldfinches, House Finches and a good crop of Purple Finches from up north.  Our Juncos all seemed to have moved south on the heels of the blizzard a couple weeks back and occasionally we still see a Tree Sparrow or two, which is unusual as most winters they tend to stay in good numbers through at least February or March.

Northern Bobwhite Quail
(photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison)

We have had one unusual visitor and I suspect is is an escapee from someone's pen.  We had a Northern Bobwhite for a few days!  It was very skittish and a loner so I don't have much hope for it surviving around here...we have lots of hungry Coyotes, Owls and hawks!  We had a Northern Bobwhite show up here in the valley about 18 years ago too, so this has been fun to see!

A bit of a rush this past Christmas in the studio, some last minute orders and a very slow postal service for shipping anything!  It makes it a bit hectic getting materials and supplies on time for clients!  But we got through it and now settling in for the winter.

I usually try and write a positive blog...I'm struggling with this one...even what to say.

We all witnessed January 6th.  I'm struggling to understand why some seem to think it was no big deal.  I'm struggling to understand why some of our legislators swore an oath to the Constitution, yet are loathe to carry it out.  I'm struggling to understand why people I thought were intelligent, believe anything a classic narcissist says. And I struggle to understand why we can't work together for the common good and benefit of one another.  

I truly hope that this nation can pull together, quit finger pointing, quit crying wolf and be good to one another.  Love thy neighbor as thy self - haven't we learned this yet?

Take care and cherish your family and friends.  I'll say it again - please be good to one another.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Christmas Was White After All...

Am I getting old or what?   Here we were plugging along, being spoiled with warmer than normal days - Georgie even cut Spinach from underneath her row cover in the north yard garden a couple days before Christmas!  We were feeling pretty smug about it all...even been putting off mounting the plow to the truck this fall/winter, I mean - why bother, right?

Ha!  Of course it snowed - it was Christmas yesterday after all!  I only remember one Christmas in NW Iowa when there was no snow, and that was in the mid 1950's!  I remember fussing about how was Santa going to get around - guess I should have looked at the bigger picture...hey he had to deliver to the southern hemisphere too - DUH!  Shouldn't be too hard switching sleigh runners to wheels right?


 But ya, reality raised its head and there we were...spending the last day of no snow and decent temps getting ready for a Blizzard Warning the next day...not a lot of snow, maybe 5"?  Hard to tell when its horizontal.  Pretty good winds...a basic white-out for nearly 10 hours.  Yup, sure looked like Christmas...should be a lot of happy kids anyway!  Us old grumps will just have to enjoy the view - it is pretty๐Ÿ˜Š



Just a week ago we were all excited checking out the "Great Conjunction" of Jupiter and Saturn in the SW sky.  For a good 10 days I thought we were doomed to cloud cover each evening, but two days before the event we got lucky and had a good look...it was kind of cool seeing both Jupiter and Saturn in the camera lens together...were able to see 4 of Jupiter's moons also but not any of Saturn's (Its just a camera lens after all).  The next night we were clouded in again and it seemed maybe the best day - the 21st - might be lost as well.


But we got lucky!  It was pretty windy the evening of the 21st but I did the best I could with the camera/lens...could see just 3 of Jupiter's moons...Callisto was too far out and too dim this time but Saturn was now very close in view with Jupiter.  I tried taking some normal scenes with the two in the background but they just weren't shots I was happy with.  This had plenty of hype for a few weeks before but really (not to rain on parades or the "emotional" event some portrayed) I remember plenty of single planet observations of Jupiter by itself - closer in its orbit to Earth, and Venus - especially last summer(!); that were much brighter than this conjunction...but it really was cool to see both planets so close by one another in the night sky!

And now we're hearing rumbles of another snow system coming in about 3 days.  But its now winter and we'll just settle in to the rhythm of the season; at least the days are now getting longer - that's a positive!

I'm looking forward to a better year ahead...and I know of a few Billion people thinking the same thing...at least we had a White Christmas here and didn't miss out!   

Have a Happy and Blessed New Year, and be kind to one another!

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Freezing/Thawing...Once in a Blue Moon

 
The Blue Moon on Halloween here on October 31, 2020
(photograph -  ©Bruce A. Morrison)

If memory serves me, the past couple years lacked some of my favorite days of the season...Indian Summer.  This year has tried making up for it and hasn't done too bad of a job. Although we've had 3 snowfalls this season already, they've been fairly light and melted in short order...just the past several days have been in the 60's and 50's and quite pleasant for late November! 

Really I haven't relished this Fall too much, I won't get into it, just say I'd as soon forget it...in fact most of us would just as soon forget the entire year!  Its been tough on some folks more so than others.

I will admit I have been having a good deal of trouble motivating myself, like many, many have I'm sure.  But I have had a few bright spots appear here and there this year...so thankful for Georgie and the kids, and good friends who think of me and lift my spirits.  I know I am blessed and am grateful.

Studio work has been slow, but I keep on plodding away with small jobs and also work on the acreage...the chain saw has been busy off and on, a little seed collection from the pastures and some patching of the barn and crib roofs have also kept us busy.  Drawing, printing and some framing occupying each day now, tis the season๐Ÿ˜Š.

Recently some friends called and let me know they had some River Otters out by their place and welcomed me to come out and try and get some photos.  I went early last Tuesday morning and found them, as if they were waiting for me!  Its been some time since I've seen Otters...they've been in the pasture out in front of us, along the creek...have seen them in the Little Sioux River a number of times, and even up north years ago.
 
When I approached the water, I was hearing the familiar sound of the ice "pinging" and breaching...a noise I remember from times when something large was swimming close to the underside of newly formed thin ice.  And there they were!  First one, then another...
 


(photographs -  ©Bruce A. Morrison)
 
At first they watched me with curiosity from a distance, eventually popping up through the thin ice by butting it from underneath with their heads...eventually right in front of me - then crawling out on a small log to get a better look...what fun!

Mink walking on the ice through the rushes.
(photograph -  ©Bruce A. Morrison)

I got an extra bonus while waiting for more photo ops - a Mink was walking around on the ice and one of the Otters would pop up through the thin ice around it and the startled Mink would jump up into the air - so funny to see!  This went on for maybe 10 minutes but kept taking place behind a bunch of rushes out of view of the camera...was like they were playing a game!

The trip to photograph Otter really made my week...between critters and great weather, its been fun.  A lot to be thankful for out there - even in rough times.
 
Be good to one another - Happy Thanksgiving!!!




Saturday, August 29, 2020

Beat the Heat!!!

 


August 23, 2020 - "Over Pocahontas" - photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

Finally!!!!!!!!!  It's the 29th of August and its "Decent" outside!  Very pleasant day in the shade and even in the sun...I hope we outlasted the heat.

August 17, 2020 - "Over SW Minnesota" - photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

Its been a bugger...slightly over a quarter inch for the entire month of August and most of the plants in the prairie pasture are going dormant or look like they wish they had.  Everything will be fine, its just a "brown out" type of a scene with the golden rods and sunflowers doing the majority of the lifting of colors.  One good side to it is we haven't had to mow the acreage since the first week of July!  Oh - the other good side of it is we have not suffered through Durecho wind storms nor hurricanes or forest fires and we're still healthy!  A person must always count their blessings and be grateful...I say this sincerely.

August 16, 2020 - "Over Storm Lake" - photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison 

We have had some spectacular evening skies around here the past month.  As storms developed in the region, they always split around us - leaving us dry but with awesome views of their majesty!  It was frustrating but as I said, we've been very fortunate.

"Distant Thunder - Redtail" - color pencil drawing - © Bruce A. Morrison

Things have been unusually brisk here at the studio, cannot explain it other than just saying I'd better get busy this winter as my walls are getting bare!  My participation in the 2020 Birds in Art international exhibit in Wausau, WI comes up in a couple weeks!  Although this will be the first time I haven't gone to see the opening in person when I've been included - everything's changed with Covid...it will still be an outstanding showing of Bird Artists the world over!  I just sent a small piece for an auction the Woodson Art Museum is having for Birds in Art...they do a "post card" auction of small 4X6" originals and I contributed a small color pencil drawing "Distant Thunder - Red-tail" for the auction...I'll at least be there in spirit ๐Ÿ˜Š

Bring on September I say...and I beg your sincere pardon if it sours on us all as this summer seems to have.  Hope we at least finally beat the heat!