Saturday, August 22, 2009

Under the Schoolhouse Bridge - Aleta Karstad

There's no two ways about it - I just have not done a journal page recently enough to post. But I have been sketching in nature - an oil sketch, on a 4 x 6 inch canvas. On Thursday, August 13, Fred and I returned to the "Schoolhouse Bridge" over the Tay River, about 20 kilometres west of Perth in eastern Ontario, so that I could do a quick oil sketch, looking upstream beneath the bridge. This is one of the 27 spots along the Tay River that we surveyed last week for crayfish and fresh water mussels - and hope as I might, I didn't find any time for painting or sketching except this hour and a half in the early evening of the second-last day.

As my husband Fred sat beside me at the corner of the bridge abutment, looking at the sunlit scene framed by the concrete bridge, we noticed a strange black and green insect with long trailing green legs, flying up against the wall below the bridge - the wall dancing with weaving sun reflections. It was nearly as large as a hummingbird, the Katydid Killer, Spex pennsylvanicus, a great black wasp actually carrying a Katydid! It was looking for a hole or someplace to store its large green prize, and failing, dropped it on the water. A fish rose to snatch the Katydid just as the wasp swooped down to retrieve it, narrowly being fish food itself! Fred had already found a dead Katydid on the ledge below the bridge - which he now thought might be one left there earlier by the same wasp.

The pink flowers in my painting are the blossoms of Decadon, our favorite river-edge bush, that sends arching branches into the water to root their tips and spring up again - watery branches swollen and spongy and fringed with roots. During the course of my painting, a Muskrat made several trips from behind the far corner of the bridge, across the scene, carrying large bunches of bright green vegetation to the Decadon bush, and backed in beneath it.


  1. Aleta, how nice to have a completely different medium! Lovely, limpid sketch, thank you for posting.

  2. I love your descriptions along with the soft, meditative sketch, Aleta. I feel like I was sitting right beside you and Fred as you saw the wasp and other "wildlife."


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