Leaf peeping: from 25 degrees C to snow in five days!

At present we are staying at Old Forge in the Adirondacks. In the last blog I mentioned that we had driven across from Erie (the town on the edge of the lake), to Old Forge arriving during a thunderstorm.

The day after was stunning. Clear blue skies and very warm. 25 degrees centigrade. We had prepared ourselves for cold weather with thick hiking gear and long-johns. In actual fact, we unzipped our legs off our trousers, put on thin tops, with fleece round our waists in case, and set off.

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We hiked through the woods, following different trails and these are some of the pictures that I took. The rain had obviously brought most of the red coloured leaves down the night before as they lay fresh on the ground. But it was still beautiful as you can see.

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That day we walked 8 miles and had our lunch by a large lake.

Yesterday it was a lot cooler, 16 degrees C, 9 degrees less than the day before. The sun still shone for most of the day, but this time our trousers were long and we wore our fleeces. We didn’t go very far this time, spending a lot of it chasing leaves, selecting a few to dry and some to immerse in glycerin. We saw more deer eating the odd fallen apple, but mostly leaves. There were far fewer deer in the gardens this year than we had seen three years ago. Go back and check out the pictures from those blogs. Apparently the reason is that the hunting season started last weekend!

Notice the black squirrels. Initially we thought the first one we saw was just particularly dark, but we have seen quite a few of them, plus the usual grey ones.

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Yesterday, I started this in my sketch book.

Version 2

Version 2

Snow is expected on Saturday! But by then we will be on our way back towards Boston to fly home!

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Botanical art workshop at Goodnestone Park Gardens, Kent

On Monday and Tuesday this week I lead a workshop at Goodnestone Park Gardens in Kent. I have a couple of workshops there per year for Fieldbreaks.

The subject was Hedgerow produce and most of the students were using coloured pencil. One of them had neither used coloured pencil nor watercolour previously, so this was an experience. She did very well, although it felt a bit scary for her.

They are very good at Goodnestone and allow us to pick what we want from the gardens to use as botanical subjects. Some of the subjects we can find there can be quite exciting. But funnily enough, at a workshop I often find that other than new students who have not yet grasped that the ‘prettiest’ is not always the easiest to do, people generally choose very simple subjects. I think that this is because they are more intent on improving technique or learning something new to add to their repertoire of techniques.

Here are the results. I am very pleased with them and I am sure you will think them very good too.

Tree Peoni seed capsule. Coloured pencil.
Tree Peoni seed capsule. Coloured pencil.
Tree Peoni seed capsule pair. Coloured pencil.
Tree Peoni seed capsule pair. Coloured pencil.
Portugese Laurel berries. Coloured pencil
Portugese Laurel berries.
Coloured pencil
Lily seed capsule - Coloured pencil
Lily seed capsule – Coloured pencil
Rose hips - Watercolour
Rose hips – Watercolour
Rose leaf - watercolour
Rose leaf – watercolour

This morning I had an ordinary weekly class and since then I have been working on the pen & ink Bears Britches.

Bear britches in pen& ink
Bear britches in pen& ink

I have only done a small portion of it so far and this is only establishing the flowers and fruits. Once I have established all the elements in the picture I will create tone and then…….. But you will have to wait for that.

Wednesday in the Adirondacks

The day started off similar to yesterday although slightly chillier. Having prepared ourselves by eating a simple porridge breakfast and getting a prepared salad for our lunch, we set off to explore the Adirondacks a little more by car.

We headed off in the direction of the Blue Mountain Lake. The colours continued to be magnificent and eventually the clouds cleared to give us the sun. We drove slowly to get as many impressions in as possible. As the morning wore on and the sun stayed out, it got increasingly warmer. It was beautiful.

Before leaving Old Forge, we went to look at the Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolours. Apparently this is an annual event. I was unclear as to whether the exhibitors were meant to be from the Adirondacks, or whether the scenes were meant to have an impression of the Adirondacks, as I understand the artists were from all over the US and watercolour seemed to include Acrylic, Gouache, pen &link as well as traditional watercolour. The subjects of the pictures were from many places, also external to the US.

We had proudly been advised by locals that the exhibition demonstrated for everyone that there was a lot of very good art in the Adirondacks. This exhibition certainly did have quite a lot of good art, but as is the case everywhere, some of its quality is in the eye of the beholder. I can only say, thank goodness to that, as I know not everyone appreciates botanical art. I’m of course glad that some do.

This photo was taken as we came out of the exhibition. The centre itself was very impressive and worked really well in exhibiting artwork.

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We carried on up to Blue Mountain Lake, intending to go into a museum there. However, the entry fee was a lot more than we wanted to pay for only having a quick look, rather than dedicating the day to taking in the history of the Adirondacks.

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This is the view we had whilst eating our lunch. Today the wind was up and there were waves on all the lakes we passed. Yesterday, everything had been wind-still.

We had thought about making our way up to Lake Placid and the High Peaks, before wending our way back to Old Forge. But we dropped in at a place calling itself ‘The Trading Post’ to get a cup of coffee. During the conversation, we mentioned what we had intended, the lady there came after us as we were leaving saying we ought to change our minds and do something else. She suggested that a few miles along the road there was a track leading up Coney Mountain, with fantastic views on the top.

Of course, as you realise, we have been very obedient to the advice we have been given along the way and have actually done some fantastic things we might not have done otherwise. Although not really clad for the hike, we had fairly strong sandals and some water, so found the track and did as we were told. What can I say! If a local gives advice and your gut feeling is in rhythms with it, go for it!

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Look at the colour of these leaves, and they are on the ground!

On the way up, we met three pleasant couples. One couple in particular were really helpful and if they read this, thank you. We explained that we were taking this trail on the spur of the moment and were not really prepared. They had some written information about the climb and what we would see on the top. They gave it to us and it made everything so much more interesting in knowing what we were actually seeing. I had filmed a video that I had intended including in this blog. Unfortunately it won’t download for some reason, so I can’t include it. Still it was a fantastic 360 degree view of the Adirodacks, with the high peaks in the distance. We may not have gone to Lake Placid, but we had a rough idea of its position from our viewpoint on Coney mountain.

However, I will include a few more pictures of our return journey down the mountain and on our way back to Old Forge. The crickets continue to rub their legs together!

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Monday – Leaf Peeping

Before going back to our motel in Wellsboro, we did some window shopping after eating supper. Robin felt he needed another pair of trousers and I saw a shirt and waistcoat – which I didn’t need!

We got up lazily this morning as we felt we didn’t need to rush anywhere and I also felt it was the first day of my true holiday. We had a week to get back to Boston (Saturday) for our flight home. The sun was shining as it has done every day (except one morning) since we arrived in the US. The plan was to walk up Main Street, get a map which included the Adirondacks, and have a look at the things we had seen in the shop windows – on sale I hasten to add.

Going to the book shop was better than going to an information office. We got the map we wanted plus loads of hints as to good routes to take. At the same time we got a couple more talking books. A friend of ours at home has really got us into these and apart from the magnificent views we are seeing constantly, the books really help the travelling time speed away. Our friends will now have some long books to catch up on when we get back home! I hope they will enjoy our choice.

We had decided that we wanted to get up to the Adirondacks in one go so that we might spend a couple of days here. We chose routes that were for the most not main highways. We wanted to see the country. The leaves were getting more autumnal as we went, except for a couple of places which were obviously not so high up – where it was still pretty green. I don’t want to bore you with aaaa-ll the pictures of the scenery that I took whilst Robin drove, but compare them with our arrival in the US and you also will see a massive change.

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A lot of the roads we have taken today are marked as ‘scenic’. They were. The picture of the red trees behind our rented car, was on our stop to eat the salad we had bought first thing this morning. We stopped off at a resting place. These are incredible places. They are lovely buildings kept clean and tidy, with automats for buying hot drinks or snacks, plus loos. They are definitely not like the manned service areas seen on the UK motorways.

We got up to the Adirondacks about 17:00 and we stopped once more for a cup of tea and this was the view.

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Driving slowly through parts of this beautiful area in the mountains, we chose a motel where we are now booked in. There is a lot to choose from up here as it is a tourist area. However, I think that we are lucky in that this is mid week and I believe that Leaf peepers don’t get going until the first whole week in October. People say though, that the weather has been exceptional and the colours are magnificent this year because of the warm dry days and cold nights. I took this photo shortly before we found the motel and just before sunset.

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Once esconsed, I ask for recommendations of eating places. Silly me. I thought across the road was a literal description. I also thought that a ‘little further along’ was just as literal! We walked!!!!!! But having said that, we did need some exercise and particularly after having eaten a particularly good meal.

One thing I didn’t mention about the Adirondacks, is that they have a lot of deer. They are called White-tailed deer. Apparently these animals raise their tufts of a tail when they are disturbed. We saw a couple of deer fairly early on and were amazed as they didn’t seem to want to hide themselves. Then we saw a car in front of us stop to allow one to amble across the road. Then we saw a couple in a garden. But this one surprised me. It cut across our path when walking back after our supper. I quickly took out my camera thinking it would be long gone. It stayed for a photo-shoot with my flash on. The first pictures show the tail clearly hanging down. It remained down throughout, but I thought I would show you these two pictures.

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Notice that the deer still calmly licks his lips after a tasty morsel.

I am hoping to get a chance to paint a little tomorrow as we intend to stay at least one whole day here.