Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Bulls Passing as Silently As Barges

So yesterday morning I pulled over to sketch the sheep.  I wondered why the bulls were absent.  I drew for a few minutes and then decided to pack it in as it was so hot.  Suddenly I spied a bull sliding past beyond the fence and partly obscured by the rose bushes.  He was so large and interestingly close--  then out of the corner of my eye I saw a second bull sliding past, and then a third.  They passed as silently as barges on the Mississippi--

reminding me of the evening I made this sketch of Jacob photographing barges from the levee at the Fly in New Orleans a few years ago.

Those silent, dark shapes slipping past like a strange parade in a dream.

Later I made this trail map as I was walking on the west river trail, fitted it in around another sketch of the sheep and a silent, gliding bull.  The plant is a very small orchid that is producing little scalloped seed pods.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Flerding and a Rafter and a Dismayed Cat

The brown mound beyond the sheep is a sleeping bull.

Yesterday morning was sunny and blue with wild chicory in bloom and  rafter of turkeys and their poults crossing the road.
Jesse waiting out a downpour in the carport near the groundhog-gnawed post.

Friday, July 21, 2017


Flerding is the practice of mixing species in a pasture: a flock + a herd = a flerd.  Here is the college sheep and bull flerd keeping cool in the shade of some old trees at the edge of their shared pasture.  Flerding is a useful practice for dealing with coyotes, which are relatively plentiful here.  Here's a link if you're as curious as I've been about sheep and bulls sharing space!  http://onpasture.com/2014/06/23/flerds-sheep-and-cattle-grazing-together-for-pasture-management-and-predator-protection/

Monday, July 17, 2017

Barnyard Narratives

In the midst of normal-looking chickens sitting in the shade this morning were ominous little piles of feathers.  M and I asked a farm worker what was up, and he said some chickens had been escaping at night and falling prey to either a fox or a weasel.  They plan to reinforce the fencing today.  

The baby pigs are now several weeks old and average  about 18 inches long.  They race around the field in packs;  they roll and tumble and sleep in piles.  The mothers are looking worn out.  They escape from the babies by lying in the mud puddles, which the babies seem afraid to enter.

Yesterday one of the biggest boldest of the piggies put his toes into the puddle:

He eventually waded up to a mother and nudged her ear.  She batted him away and went back to dozing.  

He sat in the puddle and squealed until the two mothers reluctantly dragged themselves up and out of the puddle.  By then around twenty other babies were gathered at the edge of the puddle watching and squealing.  The mothers plopped down a few feet beyond the pond and in seconds the babies swarmed over them, nursing wildly while the mamas went back to sleep.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Dog Days Approaching

As a send-off for our sweet guests yesterday, we had breakfast at 7 AM at Liberty House, where it is possible to eat outside at a picnic table overlooking their lush gardens in the cool morning.

And today I pulled off the road at the sight of newly-shorn sheep sharing a field with several bulls.

Everyone was knee-deep in grass, no jostling for territory, birds zooming in to catch bugs from the bulls' backs.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Luxe, Calme, et Volupté for Pigs

The little pigs are venturing into the mud pond little by little.

The pond is still a haven and refuge for beleagured mamas.

But the boldest babies have started stretching out and discovering the allure of cool wet clay.  Hens are appalled and stay out of the pig field and all its amenities.

Meanwhile in new developments a skinny dipper Barbie has appeared on a rock overlooking the river.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Breaking News!

The hens are remarkably unflustered and serene in spite of the  bluster and growl of a nearby tractor mower.  In times such as these a grounded calmness is essential.

Meanwhile a few clouds are massing over Jones Mountain, and a bunny holds several poses near the frolicking green water dragon that whips through the field.  Back at the house, Jesse had set up camp among the notebooks containing the 10,000 drawings, in which he figures prominently.  Watch this space for updates as this hot summer grinds on toward the dog days of August.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Morning Hike vs Mid-Afternoon Hike

An abandonned flip flop sizzles in the baking clay at 4:00 PM.  Frogs dive into cool green depths at 7 AM.

Thursday, July 6, 2017


These lusciously purple purple runner beans!  How I love to gather handfuls of them, display them like flowers in pretty bowls.

My two favorite Davids, sitting next to each other at dinner after so many years!  

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Luxurious Mud for Mamas

Four very tired-looking mama pigs were avoiding their half-grown piglets out in the field.  Two groundhogs popped out of a hole under the chicken house.  Thunder rumbled in the distance.

These two mamas had no intention of moving. A baby watched from the edge of the mud puddle.  A mama rolled over.  Drops began to fall and the baby ran for shelter.  Reluctantly the mamas pulled themselves out of the sucking mud and followed. I trotted back to the car and watched the storm roll in.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Tails Flying Like Flags

July 4 always feels to me like the apex of sticky hot buzzy searing sun  twining vines  grass up to your knees flies berries summer!  

Monday, July 3, 2017

Early July



Eleven years ago, Jacob and I outrun a thunderstorm and huddle on the dock to record our adventure.  Today's trip, same canoe, same lake, same picnic, but tranquil and relaxing!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Back to It!

After two weeks of not drawing,  it feels like a long, slow exhale to take out my notebook and sketch at the magical and hilarious Midsummer's Night Dream in which Maya played a very convincing and lively  Lysander.

Friday, June 16, 2017


It felt right to walk down the east river trail like any old day and see what I could see.  A sow was in a grassy pasture with around 20 piglets; a hen scratched the dirt and pecked.  And suddenly there were five digets in the count, as quiet and unexpectedly unremarkable as traveling across a border on a night train.
But really, how could I resist the mama finally breaking free of the piglets and grabbing a little rest in the mud pond?
And the wooly lambs are getting close to growing up.  As Shiko Munakato says:  The mind goes and the tool walks alone.

So I will take a little vacation from posting,  but I'll be back in a couple of weeks.  Thanks for all your heartening encouragement and cheer-leading these past four years!  I can't stop drawing, and numbering is interesting.  Tonight a good friend gave me a party, and I spread out all 44 books for people to look through.  Now I want to sit with them and see which seeds they contain, which directions they point to.

Thursday, June 15, 2017


Down at the river a team from Wildlife & Fisheries or some other uniform-wearing clipboard-carrying organization was seine fishing for something.  The net was as big as the large Pawley's Island hammock that I made out of a clothesline when we first moved to NC. 

On the right is the perfect heart stone that I found right after watching the team seine.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Mysterious Forms in a Rhododendron Slick


Strange fleshy white hollow forms like miniature hats are growing on a few wild rhododendron leaves in a rhododendron slick that skirts the west river trail.  No insects were around.  After studying and drawing them I googled them and have concluded they are rhododendron galls, also called azalea leaf galls and pinkster galls..  They differ from insect galls in that they are made by the spores of a fungus.  Early settlers reportedly pickled them and considered them to be a delicacy.  

Jesse As Odalisque

Really,  this cat loves to lounge voluptuously.
He was rolling in the grass while I stood offering my ankles to the mosquitos, which have arrived in terrifying numbers.

(Backup) Odd Revelations of the Bamboo Grove

In the grove of giant golden bamboo along the east river trail new shoots are pushing up from the forest floor.  Shaped like skinny teepees, they emerge very rapidly,  growing around ten inches a day.  If you're not having a clear eyes day or if it's dark and you're whipping along the trail it's possible to kick one of these and snap it off, as the middle one above was.
Along with the surreal bamboo shoots are fantastic rhododendron twigs and occasional broken stumps like howls of outrage.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Not Listening

Happily the TVs were turned off at the hairdresser's this afternoon.  No whining,  nasal,  lying little ferrets could be heard.