Tag Archives: woods

Hearth in the Woods – Watercolor Sketch


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.


What Grows in Felled Log – watercolor

Watercolor Log

This watercolor was done from a friend’s photo of a felled log in the woods. I love how little seedlings took in the cavity of the log, making a very suitable home.  The wet forest floor makes perfect conditions for the yummy moss that encapsulates the log. How I wish to be tiny and make my home in one of these! Almost magical. I’m sure many insects also take advantage of this cavity and the woodpeckers seek their prize by enjoying a tasty snack! How wonderful it is deep in the forest!

Photo by Tommy E.

Photo by Tommy E. (Thank you!)

My watercolor may not look exactly like the photo…but that’s okay! I decided to make the autumn leaves grow way beyond just the top of the log like the photo. I think it looks better that way. The only thing I would do different would be to add salt to my watercolor before it dries in the area of the moss…that would have been a nice added texture! Next time!

I hope you are getting out there and enjoying this wonderfully blessed season!

Coyote Skull Sketch


Oh the treasures in nature!
How can I express such joy from my adventures in the woods with simple text? Not possible.

Well, let’s try…

Yesterday I decided to walk the yellow trail from Pioneer Woods. It was a cold but strong sunny day. In the late afternoon light, the bare trees took on a golden glow and at their feet cast long deep shadows.


The sun was warm on my face. I noticed the field along side of the yellow trail had recently had a prescribed burn. It was my opportunity to go off trial and explore.


This particular dead tree caught my interest. Walking closer I noticed bright white on the ground.
A skull!!!!


This coyote skull measured about 5-6 inches long. The one long sagittal crest on the top confirms that this is a coyote and not a fox. The larger the sagittal crest the stronger the bite into prey. The male’s crest is usually higher than the female’s, but without a comparison I do not know if this is from a male or female.

Large clumps of bright green moss was growing from the orbital fossa (eye sockets). In total I found this skull, one rib bone, one vertebrae, and one femur bone. All were left to continue its natural process back into the earth. Not only did this coyote no doubt nourish many other animals, but it did also for the tree as well. The Father’s plan…His work in progress.


I love the warm colors. With each passing hour, more oranges seem to emerge.


In the field I notice a bird house. Naturalists must have put this up years ago, as the paint has weathered off. There was a nest inside but no activity. Too early in the year perhaps…maybe a spring resident will clean the nest and create a new home.

I hope you enjoyed this hike on the yellow trail from Pioneer Woods. It was my pleasure bringing you along! Try to get out and hike for yourself. Bring a piece of paper and pencil with you to record what you hear, smell, and see. A camera helps too, but your words will really bring you back in memory.

If you can’t get out because of health reasons, that’s OK you can always come back to this site and take a virtual hike with me and explore in the woods. It’s soooooooo much fun!

New Year New Hike New Sketch


Shelf Mushroom at Willow Springs Woods watercolor

It’s been a while, huh?

After having the stomach virus, I managed to find a tiny piece of ice to fall on….right on my tail bone *oooooouch*. That left me sore for over two weeks! Soon Christmas arrived and the holiday parties kept me busy. All of these things kept me out of the woods for about a month.

Well, I’m glad to say I’m back on track!

Today I escaped to Willow Spring Woods for a quick hike. Here were my observations:


“The wind is strong but I am not cold. Bare trees above me creek loudly. Just above them a hawk silently glides sideways, pushed by the gusty wind. Intermittent snow flies making my inner child very happy.”


Many of the oaks have shelf mushrooms hanging on the trunk. I love to study the lines and the many different subtle colors.


The trees on the trail seem to speak as they creeeeeek in the strong winds. I like to stand beneath and stare at the tips which sway back and forth, back and forth.


This tree has been invaded by fungi. I didn’t realise it at the time, but this picture has awesome texture, separated in thirds!!!

I hope everyone had a happy and healthy holiday with family and friends.

Now, let’s get back to business and pick up those paint brushes!!!!!!

Where Do Raccoons Sleep…Right Here

I’m not kidding, every time I go out into the woods it’s a different adventure. Something new each time catches me off guard. As I took a hike this morning, I just happened to turn my head and noticed something odd.

Do you see anything strange?

What’s that lump on the branch? To make matters worse, it was raining and I left my glasses in the car because I knew the rain would spot them, frustrating my view. All I can see is a big fuzzy lump. I take a picture but have to wait until I get home to zoom in.

Holy cow, what a huge raccoon sleeping on a branch! No doubt he had cabin fever and took the first chance he could on this mild spring-like day (45°F) in January, to take a snooze outside his hollow. This raccoon has to be a monster. He was at least 30 feet up, several yards away and he still looks huge!