Fluffy Flowers and Scrumptious Fruit

praying mantis photo

P.M. is her name and karate chopping is her game!

Upon walking out on the front porch a couple of days ago, I noticed we had a visitor walking up the sidewalk. It was one of our resident praying mantis named P.M., and I sat watching her for awhile as she slowly walked along with her arms outstretched in the karate position, whilst looking for prey. They are insects with BIG attitudes, so I love photographing them from this angle, and I’m pretty sure that if she could see how BIG and intimidating she looks, she would certainly approve of her portrait!  

With continuing to pack and getting ready for our upcoming closings on both houses this week and moving, and with several of my family members currently very sick with the virus, stress is a big part of daily life anymore. This past Friday morning we decided to take a break and go kayaking for awhile, so we packed a lunch, backed the van out of the garage, and loaded the kayaks. We excitedly jumped into the van and Wes turned the key to crank it, and “click”. He tried it again, and “click”. We both knew right away what is was, since we’ve had to have the starter replaced on our 23-year old van once before. 

kayaking

The water was SO clear and beautiful!

Wes called AAA, and within an hour or so the tow truck was here. Since our van was parked around back, we were most thankful he was able to get it started by banging on the starter itself, while Wes tried to crank it. The van roared to life and we left it idling while Wes spent the next 15 to 20 minutes calling garages until he finally found one that could fix the van that afternoon. So while Wes spent most of the day at the garage waiting on the van, I continued to pack. 

Since we didn’t get to go kayaking Friday, we went this morning instead, and I must say we thoroughly enjoyed our break from all the current stresses. We paddled back to a favorite lunch spot, where we climbed out onto the pebble covered bank and sat there in somewhat of a daze while eating our sandwiches.  

rachelle siegrist

LOL 🙂 I’m not sure what Im doing here . . . Maybe the chicken dance!

It was very relaxing, as spending time by the water usually is, sitting there eating and looking around us for unusual or pretty rocks, placing them all onto a larger rock situated there between us. Of course afterwards, I just had to wade in the frigid water for awhile, but did it most carefully, as I fell down 3 weeks ago, landing on my left knee right smack on a rock. Needless to say it’s taking a very long time to heal and has added yet another ingredient to our stress cocktail.

nature photo

Isn’t this colorful with the piece of smooth blue glass

There were several beautiful flower bushes blooming along the bank, as we paddled along, and I especially loved this fluffy collection of blossoms or either spent flowers! Whichever they are, they were lovely.

nature photo flowers

Do you know what this is? If so please let me know in a comment 🙂

Right before we ate our picnic lunch, Wes came upon a wild grape vine laden with what appeared to be muscadines, so he picked a big handful and we ate them with our sandwich. They were very yummy, but the pawpaw fruit he picked and we ate later was absolutely delicious! Neither one of us had ever had it before, and it tastes very much like a dessert custard. I call it a “mountain mango” and wish we had a grove of pawpaw trees now, so we could enjoy lots of their scrumptious fruit!

If all goes well, this time next week we should be in our “new to us” house, and most likely won’t have our satellite internet up and going yet, so there probably won’t be a blog. But as soon as I can, I’ll be sharing photos of the new place with you and what projects we’ve started. 

pawpaw fruit

YUMMY!

See our miniatures in person this week

Society of Animal Artists Art That Matters to the Planet Show
August 14 – October 25, 2021:The Roger Tory Peterson Institute, Jamestown, NY

Society of Animal Artists Animal Impressions Show
August 21 – November 7, 2021: The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, AZ

Exquisite Miniatures is currently at the beautiful Elliott Museum located in Stuart, FL 

We are delighted to have our history-making tour on display in this beautiful museum! So if you’re in, or are going to be in the area, plan a visit to see over 60 of our miniature paintings in person, grab a magnifying glass and experience the “wow factor!” And if you fall in love with one . . . well, it can be yours forever, as all paintings in the exhibition are available.

To see our available miniature paintings, visit our WEBSITE hereartofwildlife.com

Contact us by EMAIL here: siegrist@artofwildlife.com

Until Next Time ~ Rachelle

What’s That In The Air?

fall leaves in the smokies

It’s happened… I can hear it in the air, I can feel it, and see it. The beginning of autumn has arrived. The crickets that sing in the autumn are filling the air with their peaceful song, lulling me into a state of relaxation whilst sitting outside. The humidity levels have dropped, and the evenings are cool, putting a spring in our step. Leaves are occasionally starting to fall, slow drifting through the air until coming to rest on the ground below, where they will live out the short remainder of their lives.   

joe-pye weed

Joe-pye Weed

It’s also the time of year when some of our favorite flowers are blooming, filling the gardens with bold splashes of color! The hummingbirds are thoroughly enjoying this beautiful buffet of rich nectar sources, almost continually fighting over them, as well as the feeders. The hoverflies and bees love them as well, so they provide a delightful source of entertainment, when I take the time to stop and observe them, which I must admit I do often. 

obedient plant blossom

Obedient Plant

wildlfowers

Not sure what wildflower this is, but it’s beautiful!

wildflowers

This beautiful delicate flowering plant was given to us by a friend, and I’m really not sure what it is, but believe it to be a type of orchid possibly. I do know that the hummingbirds absolutely love it, and I think it’s gorgeous! If you happen to know what type it is, please let me know in a comment below. I think it’s really cool how it looks like a red crab is sitting in the middle of the wee flower 🙂

orchid

Of course our beautiful Rose of Sharons are a favorite of not only mine, but also of the bees! They adore these lovely hibiscus-like blossoms and are always working them over. I thought this one below was particularly interesting, as it looks ruffled along the edges after being sculpted by a bug!

rose of sharon

The begonias scattered throughout the gardens are currently thriving and blooming profusely, filling the landscape with little spots of pink! So as you can see, it’s quite lovely walking along the paths and through the gardens this time of year.

begonia

Since the weather has cooled off a bit here in the Smokies, we decided to sit out by the fire one evening this past week, which was most enjoyable and relaxing. Of course we were joined by Bunny, the squirrels, chipmunks and several birds throughout the evening, which made it even better! Bunny is so sweet and loves eating seeds off of her little blue picnic table, and gets very upset when the chipmunk comes up to the table and chases her off. So she walks over to me, as if telling on Chippy, and I have to go over and pick up the table so Chippy won’t eat all of her seeds, and then put it back down, so Bunny can continue to happily munch away. As with so much of life, sometimes we have to work at maintaining peace, but it’s worth it in the end. 

adorable bunny

The two little picnic tables for feeding my critters on, were two of the best gifts from a friend, as so many of my feathered and furry friends, such as Peedeepeeps my Carolina Wren (shown below) enjoy eating their treats off of them and I so love watching them! This morning I finally just moved the blue table over and placed it a foot from me, where Bunny could sit there and eat, while I helped discourage Chippy from stealing her seeds. I gave Bunny a pep talk, telling her how she needs to be more confident and brave about standing her ground and protecting her food, but I’m pretty sure she wasn’t getting it. Nonetheless, I still enjoy having these one sided conversations with her as we sit there a foot apart, each at our own little table, happily eating breakfast together. These are the simple times that bring so much joy to life! 

carolina wren

See our miniatures in person this week

Society of Animal Artists Art That Matters to the Planet Show
August 14 – October 25, 2021:The Roger Tory Peterson Institute, Jamestown, NY

Society of Animal Artists Animal Impressions Show
August 21 – November 7, 2021: The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, AZ

Exquisite Miniatures is currently at the beautiful Elliott Museum located in Stuart, FL 

We are delighted to have our history-making tour on display in this beautiful museum! So if you’re in, or are going to be in the area, plan a visit to see over 60 of our miniature paintings in person, grab a magnifying glass and experience the “wow factor!” And if you fall in love with one . . . well, it can be yours forever, as all paintings in the exhibition are available.

To see our available miniature paintings, visit our WEBSITE hereartofwildlife.com

Contact us by EMAIL here: siegrist@artofwildlife.com

Until Next Time ~ Rachelle

What Is That BIG Green Thing?

rachelle siegrist kayaking

Wes and I took a much needed break yesterday! We loaded up the kayaks and headed over to the lake, and since it had been over two months since we’ve been on the water, I was very excited about returning to one of our happy places! It was a beautiful day, with calm waters and partly cloudy skies, which was a blessing with our current heatwave. We paddled to a beautiful spot for lunch, and very much enjoyed cooling off in the icy water for awhile beforehand. And yes, this was my seat (below) during lunch as well, and it was perfect! I don’t know about you, but for me there’s something extremely relaxing and restorative about being in or on the water.

Rachelle siegrist

 

 While paddling along after lunch, I spotted several gorgeous siren-red Cardinal Flowers scattered along the bank, and they certainly brighten up anyones day.

cardinal flower

Farther along, I stopped for a few minutes and enjoyed watching several bumble bees and a big hover fly drinking the sweet nectar of what appeared to be a Carolina Jasmine. At one point the hover fly, or friendship bee as we call them here, was obviously living up to its name, as it landed and went up into the very same blossom that a bee was in and amazingly neither one of them seemed to mind!

bumble bee photot

 

 

While I had already deemed it a wonderful time, it got even better later on! I was relaxingly paddling along and watching the bank slowly pass me by, when suddenly I noticed what looked like a BIG mint green fishing lure laying on one of the rocks nearby. So I paddled over to investigate it further, and when I saw that it was moving, I realized it was a giant caterpillar and not a lure as I had previously suspected. I was completely taken back by the sheer size of it, as I had never seen such a huge caterpillar before! 

regal moth caterpillar

It was truly amazing and I can’t tell you how blessed I felt to be given the chance to see this awesome critter! From a distance it appeared to have a cute almost clown-like face, and honestly looked too big and amazing to be real! 

regal moth caterpillar3

As I was taking photos and videos of it, it walked over and started munching something off of the moist rock nearby. I was completely mesmerized and could’ve spent the remainder of the afternoon, sitting right there and watching this beautiful creature. After returning home later that day, I looked up “big green caterpillars” and discovered that it’s among the largest of our native saturniid caterpillars, measuring up to 6 inches in length! I later told Wes that this amazing hickory horned devil or Regal Moth caterpillar was about the size of a hotdog . . . really unbelievable! 

regal moth caterpillar2

Speaking of awesome critters, I was delighted to see this little toad while walking about one morning this past week!  

toad photo

See our miniatures in person this week

Society of Animal Artists Art That Matters to the Planet Show
August 14 – October 25, 2021:The Roger Tory Peterson Institute, Jamestown, NYSociety of Animal Artists

Animal Impressions Show
August 21 – November 7, 2021: The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, AZ

Exquisite Miniatures is currently at the beautiful Elliott Museum located in Stuart, FL 

We are delighted to have our history-making tour on display in this beautiful museum! So if you’re in, or are going to be in the area, plan a visit to see over 60 of our miniature paintings in person, grab a magnifying glass and experience the “wow factor!” And if you fall in love with one . . . well, it can be yours forever, as all paintings in the exhibition are available.

To see our available miniature paintings, visit our WEBSITE hereartofwildlife.com

Contact us by EMAIL here: siegrist@artofwildlife.com

Until Next Time ~ Rachelle