Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend

Spring Along Waterman Creek
photograph © Bruce A. Morrison
(click photo for a larger image)

I keep hearing that "summer begins" this weekend. It's that unofficial start that begins when school lets out and the vacation season begins, but I'd rather it stay spring for the next 3 weeks until the 21st of June when the summer solstice begins...I don't want things to move too quickly - time already passes by way too fast!
It does seem like summer though doesn't it?! We had our first Lightning Bugs of the season this week here (fire flies for some of you)...seems a little early. I love Lightning Bugs! Brings back many, many memories of days long ago...catching them in jars and watching them from the bedside at night.
The Waterman Creek photograph, at the top of the blog (taken about 3 weeks back) also brings back memories...memories of the creeks I used to wade along and fish and swim in as a kid. These memories inspire artwork and photography of, somehow familiar landscapes - like Waterman Creek here below the studio. I was attending an archaeological weekend event 3 weeks back when I visited this section of the Waterman. We were visiting the oldest known agricultural field in Iowa at this location. The field was dated at 900 - 1100 AD, and was tended by the Mill Creek culture that lived and flourished along the Waterman Creek valley here. The agricultural field was just 3 miles from the studio - wow...I love to think about who was here centuries back and how they lived! Amazingly, the entire "ancient garden plot" encompassed roughly the same area of 2 1/2 football fields or more.
Off in the distance behind the far trees in the photograph, is the Mill Creek Village that archaeologists refer to as the "Double Ditch" site. There was another village about the same distance in the opposite direction...archeologist's had recovered spoons from that site - spoons carved from Conk shells from the Gulf of Mexico...can you imagine?! It boggles the mind - the trade and commerce of that era. I find all this very intriguing and amazing to think about.Memorial Day weekend...amazing how soon that happened!
Another critter seems to be enjoying this weekend - it's that little bug on the screen among this blog. It is probably the worst scourge I find around here (although ticks and mosquitoes run a close second). They're about the size of the image on the screen (well, that depends on your screen resolution of course) and have jaws the size of Grizzly Bears! exaggeration - but they feel like the jaws of a Grizzly Bear!We've tried many things over the years for them...deet doesn't deter them...they just seem to get stuck to you with deet. Skin So Soft is a joke...they like soft skin too and lather it on; Vanilla works for a couple people we know, but I'm sure it's a weird anomaly or just a psychologically induced phenomena...we've tried it...more than once...with "real" vanilla...I think they really like it as a sauce on their food - US!What am I speaking of??? Black Flies. Huh? I call 'em Black Flies, some people call them gnats...some people call them biting gnats, but the official common name is "black fly"...they are from the family Simuliidae. Everybody reacts to them differently, but Georgie and I swell up like burning balloons! This too shall pass and the high winds we've been having will be more welcome than usual till they're gone :)Blessings to everyone out there and to your loved ones remembered on this weekend...

Friday, May 14, 2010


Iris Study (Iris shrevei)
color pencil rendering - 6X8"

Trying to get back in the groove here at the studio...we've been battling the winds and rain the past week and finally see the sun today. The winds here are just atrocious during the spring. This week the flood light above the outside studio door spit out it's bulb - wind unscrewed the thing! The south side of the barn roof is going to take some doing to just "patch" the holes the past 4 weeks of wind have torn out.

But life is beautiful to behold and most of the summer birds have returned and are serenading me as I type. The Baltimore and Orchard Orioles are back and hitting the grape jelly hard and the hummingbirds are chasing each other around their feeders.

I've taken to working on drawings each night - my days are full with web site work for clients and painting time has not revisited me in some is discouraging but this too shall pass.

The Iris study is another of the many things stuck in the nooks and crannies of my brain. Sometimes these are hard to retrieve but this was drawn from a photograph I took just last spring here at the studio.

We have done native planting around the studio and the studio deck. There's a small fountain north of the deck that has a small clump of native wild iris - Iris shrevei, also sometimes called wild blue flag, or southern blue flag. This iris is native to the marshes here in NW Iowa.

In the past I'd typically vignette the flowers from their background but I was rather taken with the out of focus Wild Columbine leaves in the background of the photograph so, with a little rearranging, I left them in as a foil for the irises.

The prairie is picking up speed here and this is the time of year that outside work becomes nearly full time...I love it! I need to get out and anything for a good excuse!

See you outside...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I've Said It Before...

Rainbow in front of the Prairie Hill Farm Studio

I've said it before and I'll say it again - the skies here are amazing! We don't have mountains, and what hills we have are pretty far and few in between (except in the valley below us). But the sky makes up for this...on the prairie the sky is "our mountains".

I shot quite a bit of this evening (last night) from in front of the studio and will "someday" maybe have enough time to further investigate and process the other files from the event.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy our view!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Spring's Chorus

Northern Flickers add
a bit of percussion to
the spring chorus here
at the studio!

The thing I look forward to every year here is the morning chorus of birds. It lulls one into a deeper sleep at times, or makes you want to get up and join them!

The birds at the acreage are constantly getting my attention though, and I find myself distracted and trying to "capture" their exuberance. A week or so back I was hearing a Western Meadowlark singing outside the studio. I was snapped out of what I was working on and gathered up some equipment and went out to record the the time I'd made it outside, the bird was gone.

Song Sparrows are a spring/summer
favorite singer here!

But another picked up the music...a Song Sparrow, they're early spring singers here and continue to belt it out through the summer. So many birds don't carry on much past early summer. The Northern Flickers then added their percussion and calling to the mix and a American Robin joined in with Common Grackles bantering off and on. On occasion the Meadowlark could be heard off in the background...what a blast to hear!

I have a page on my web site that is just audio of nature. The page isn't linked and only friends (you!) get to listen - my May Basket to you!! The nice thing about the page is if you leave it up, the birds will sing continuously. "April Morning at Prairie Hill Farm" is the track form last week. The "Prairie Savanah Summer Morning" track is one I added some time back, but both will play continuously as long as the page is open.

Nothing to download or anything, and you can minimize the page if you're working on anything else (on the computer) at the time.

Hard day at the office or things got you down? Bring the page up and let the birds cheer you up.

Relax and have a great day!