In the Midwest where chill reigns for a quarter of the year, you will find a solemn hearth if you’re lucky in the midst of the woods. Not every preserve has one, but when you happen to spot one, it’s like a treasure. This one is located at Knoch Knolls Park in Naperville, IL.
On this day, I only wish I had wood and permission to start a fire, like I did a few years ago at Heller Woods. Click here to see photo.
Instead of seeing the warm glow against the oak trees, I will settle for the warm sounds of nagging nuthatches with their nasally, “heh, heh, heh, heh” keeping me company in those oaks.
How is their sound warm, you ask?
It keeps me there a minute longer, no matter what the temperature, and suddenly the cold disappears.
Posted in art, Artwork, Birds, Chicago, nature, sketch book, sketchbook, watercolor sketching, white-breasted nuthatch, wildlife
Tagged art, Artwork, hiking, IL, knoch knolls, naperville, nature, nuthatch, oak tree, painting, sketch, sketchbook, watercolor, woods
Goldfinch feathers molt into a drab olive green/brown color for winter. Many people upon seeing them assume they are looking at sparrows. Not a few believe goldfinches migrate for the winter because they no longer see that bright, brilliant yellow signature color. Not so! They’re here in their inconspicuous attire still seeking thistle.
In case you cannot find them this winter, as my Christmas gift to you, you may copy this artwork by right clicking on the watercolor above and selecting “Save image as”.
Actual photo of very hungry goldfinches outside my very dirty window. He, he, he.
Fern-Like Frost outside my clean window. Here is proof of the magic of winter… One can zoom in and study patterns in the frost for hours. Well, I sure can!
May your holidays be filled with peace and love.
Posted in american goldfinch, art, Artwork, Birds, Chicago, Free Download, nature, sketch book, sketchbook, wildlife
Tagged art, Artwork, goldfinch, painting, sketchbook, watercolor
It is time once again.
I felt it stir within, an urgency to go back. A time to retreat.
As I grow, I am more in tune with my body and emotions. With the weight of work and family obligations I needed a time out. Silence is what I crave, giving me the ability to hear my own thoughts and process them. I get so little of it normally, so it was time to go back to Christ in the Wilderness for a solitude retreat.
This time I stayed in the hermitage called, Mariglen. It has a fascinating view of the land and it’s a very popular spot for the birds to visit. You can read last years visit if you wish here, here, and here, when I stayed at the Paul of Tarsus hermitage.
It may seem to some that staying at a place like this throws you into the dark ages, as there are no TV’s, cell phone service, and no WiFi. But oh, on the contrary! Being in the “dark” here contains more light than the brightest lifestyle back home, with all of its empty technology enticements.
For the silence at CITW not only lets me hear the wing beats of birds, but I can also hear them cracking seed in their beaks. My soul craves this.
Time on the trails gives me perspective. I ask God lots of questions and it’s quiet enough to hear some answers. Last year I pondered much on my past but this time it was more about my present and who Christ is to me.
He is the Light, the Life, and my Hope. This is what He whispered to me in the wilderness.
I also discovered other mysteries on the trail, like these bones most likely from a coyote. If you look close enough you can see fur, underneath the bones, closest to the grass.
And on one of my nights I was indulged with this cloud bow. Great treasures are all around, even in the sky.
It was with a heavy heart that I had to leave, but when the time is right I will return. I know I bring home with me a little piece of this Peace, I am never truly far from it.
Posted in art, Artwork, Birds, chickadee, God, hiking, nature, red-bellied woodpecker, sketch book, sketchbook, Sunsets/Sunrise, watercolor painting, watercolor sketching, wildlife
Tagged art, Artwork, chickadee, Christ in the Wilderness, CITW, hiking, IL, nature, painting, red bellied wookpecker, retreat, sketch, sketchbook, solitude, Stockton, watercolor
45°F cold rain
I am wearing my rain gear with layers of clothing bundled underneath as I walk on a grassy trail laced with mud. I don’t mind the mud nor do I mind the cold drizzle on my face. In a lifetime of Monday thru Friday, 9-5 numbness, the cold drizzle is a welcome. It makes me feel alive.
On a particular section of trail, I find a banditry of chickadee. Their chatter is loud and overwhelming. I do not know what they are saying for I do not speak chickadian. Perhaps I am the subject of their banter, disrupting them on a day where they do not expect many humans?
They unwittingly halt me in my tracks. As I stand there looking up, something tells me to look down….
At my feet, I discover another world…. a glowing white shelf mushroom carpeted by brilliant green moss, set contrast to a dark saturated tree stump. I no longer hear the clatter of the chickadees, because I am lost in the contour of the moss. My eyes follow every fern-like curve. I observe its green gradient from dark green- to medium- to light- to white tips.
The chickadees are not amused by my fern moss and mushroom rapture, so they maintain their scold. I know when I’m not welcome. I’m leaving. I’m leaving.
I walk away knowing the secret of where my beauties live…..under the chant of the chickadees.
Posted in art, Artwork, Birds, Chicago, chickadee, hiking, nature, Nature Sketching, sketchbook, watercolor painting, watercolor sketching
Tagged art, Artwork, chickadee, fern moss, hiking, moss, mushroom, nature, painting, shelf mushroom, sketch, sketchbook, watercolor
Amazing work, that’s done by hand less wonders. So graceful the bed which to incubate life. I’m in awe.
This nest was built on my friend’s gutter right by her front door. She has a mirror that looks like a dentist’s tool, which she used to see what was in the nest when mom and dad robin (they share turns) were away. At one point there were 4 brilliantly blue eggs in the nest.
But these two precious nestlings were the only ones that made it. Why? I really don’t know. I can’t explain why some things like this happen. The only thing I can do is trust. Trust that God has this plan. Did the other two eggs provide nourishment for some other wildlife? Perhaps. This would have bothered me when I was younger, but now I see all things have a purpose.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot. Ecc 3:1-2
This same trust is what keeps me going in a world that seems chaotic. Even when things seem uncertain or even unsafe, because of my relationship with Christ, I can trust in a real God, who has my best interest. Do you think that He would sacrifice His own Son then let me flounder with no purpose? Nope! And the beauty in this is that even when things around me go nuts, I am right where I’m supposed to be…under His wing. My friend, that goodness is for you too. There’s a plan for your life. ❤
Here are the actual pictures from this springtime robin miracle:
Mom or dad keeping nestlings warm, while the other forages for food.
The nestling that survived. Just precious.
Friends, I hope this post was encouraging to you and I pray that today you would know the One who is the Prince of Peace.
Posted in art, Artwork, Birds, Chicago, nature, Nature Sketching, Paint His Love, robin, sketchbook, watercolor sketching, wildlife
Tagged art, Artwork, baby robin, bird, God, journal, nature, nest, nestlings, painting, robin, sketchbook, spring, watercolor