Saturday, June 5, 2010

By a little Stream

Yesterday I rode out a little further down the Niagara Trail. Early in the year I have to work up a bit slowly, and anyway, there had been lots to interest me in the fields and woods close to home, but this time I decided to make for Brown’s Point, about 9km up the river. I didn’t quite get that far. About a kilometer north of the Point there is a pretty little dell, where a tiny stream crosses the Parkway from its source somewhere in Tregunno Farms, making its way to the river. Where the pathway crosses the stream there is a little hollow, always damp and choked with impenetrable shrubbery. Here I was waylaid by a lovely sight – a large, vigorous shrub with rose-like flowers of a beautiful magenta hue. I went no further, but spent some time studying the plant and taking photographs with my little point-and-shoot camera. Not expecting to see anything exciting, I had neglected to take along any sketching equipment.

The bush was quite large, already six feet high and about the same wide. The new canes were coming straight up with no branching. They had tiny brown hairs on them, and when I touched the stems, they were sticky. The leaves were large and shapely, palmate, five-lobed and shaped like a maple’s; some of them were eight inches wide. The flowers were five-petalled and clustered on little side twigs of last year’s canes, which were now brown and woody.

When I came home, I went straight to my wildflower guide. I was beginning to be embarrassed about having to run to the experts so often for help, so I was relieved that it didn’t take me long to identify this shrub as the Purple-flowering Raspberry, Rubus odorata.

Late last night we had a real gully-washer of a thunderstorm and this morning was soupy and misty, but it showed promise of clearing off, so I packed my painter’s rucksack and headed off to make a sketch of the raspberry bush. The goldfinches were out on the meadow, gold on gold, the Meadow Salsify now beginning to offer tasty seed heads, and a little further on, I started up a Flicker from foraging in the grass.

For a stretch south from the McFarland House, the trail is sandwiched fairly tightly between the Parkway and the steep, wooded bank of the river, so there’s not so much to see and explore. Nevertheless, I’ll be having things to report on from that section too; but today there would be much to do, so I made straight for my painting subject.

Quite often the little streamlet which runs just a few feet from where I set up to paint will dry out completely in the summer, but this morning when I got there it was chuckling away to itself, playing with all the rain we’d had; a companionable sound. I noticed a blue flag at the water’s edge and a wild rose on the bank. I’ll have to come back to this spot.
Pretty soon the sun burned off the last of the mist and it warmed up fast to be a grand day.

If you’d like to see some of my photos of Rubus odorata, they are on Flickr:

1 comment:

  1. This is a beautiful sketch and your reflections on this experience (first finding it and later sketching it) are a delight to read. I almost feel like I was walking along with you. Sounds like you had a great time.


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