Wow . . . what a difference a day makes! The waterworks were finally turned off last Friday morning, and then the sun came out, accompanied by clear blue skies, lasting throughout the remainder of the day and all yesterday. I think the flowers and trees were as happy to see it as I was, as some of them have finally started to pop out little leaf buds, with some even unfurling! Having spent much of this past week inside our studio painting, while watching the rainfall outside, you can just imagine what a delight the past two days were for us! We enjoyed yesterday by hiking nearby White Oak Sinks trail, with two couples from the Virginia Native Plant Society. The remaining twenty-four members of their group will join them for several different hikes this week to enjoy the wildflowers that are starting to bloom in our area. Wes and I are scheduled to lead the group on a hike to White Oak Sinks this coming Friday, weather permitting, after they all enjoy a visit to our studio.
The hardest part about yesterday was finding a parking spot, as the Park was full with visitors out and about enjoying the greatly appreciated sunshine. We all finally managed to find a spot to park, and so began our journey. The air was still crisp as we started out, but warmed up quite nicely once we began walking up hill. At first, there were a very limited amount of wildflowers blooming due to the recent cold weather, but they seemed to be more and more as the day went on. Nonetheless, the moss was in full splendor once again from the recent rains, making the world appear green in many areas. As we approached the meadow area leading to the falls, the Sharp-Lobed Hepatica was quite stunning, with the hundreds of small white and light pink blossoms turning the surrounding hillsides white! Everywhere we looked were various sized clumps comprised of the white blossoms. Some were a most beautiful shade of pink, while others had a lavender cast to them. In recent years, Wes and I have always hiked that area later on in the season, thus missing this particular showy display of nature.
We wound our way through the narrow path leading through the meadow area and found ourselves arriving at the falls. It was tumbling down at full speed and made for a great visual and sound feature, as we all sat there eating our lunch. While sitting there, we were thrilled to see a couple of bats flying out and around the cave entrance into which the water from the falls slips into and seems to disappear. One of the extra benefits of hiking is the nice people that you meet whilst out in nature. Yesterday was no exception, as I met and enjoyed a delightful conversation with two very nice gentlemen from nearby Maryville. After a relaxing lunch break, we loaded up with our packs, and started the trek back. We were amazed upon walking back through the meadow, as it appeared that numerous flowers had opened and leaves had unfurled just in that short period of time. It was like the forest was coming to life right before our eyes! At the other side of the meadow we reached the entrance to another cave known as Blowhole Cave, which is covered with a metal grate for its protection. Once again we were thrilled to get to watch a couple of bats perform acrobatic flight patterns right above our heads.
We enjoyed a nice hike back down to the trailhead, and leaving Schoolhouse Gap, we drove the short distance to Chestnut Tops Trail. We only walked a short distance up this trail, as it was starting to get late in the day, but were delighted to find that several Trillium, among other wildflowers, were blooming and thriving on this sunny and warm side of the mountain. We topped it off with the splendid sighting of a Blue Heron nesting atop one of the trees near the river. Leaving there with the day’s pleasant experiences still fresh in our minds, we all enjoyed a wonderful time and delicious dinner at our local Miss Lily’s Café here in Townsend. So hopefully our weather will cooperate with us next Friday, and we’ll get to enjoy yet another wonderful day of hiking with this delightful group, and get to see what blooming surprises will be waiting for us!
Currently On Our Easels: Wes finished two miniatures paintings this past week. One features adorable little Clownfish, and the other a Hermit crab, both of which we photographed while visiting the Oklahoma Aquarium, during our recent trip to Tulsa for the NatureWorks Art show. I’m painting on a still life comprised of chocolate, which I have greatly enjoyed working on, although it makes me even hungrier for chocolate! We’re both working on paintings of Bison for the upcoming Invitational Miniature Show at Trailside Galleries in Jackson Hole, WY.
~ Come See Our Paintings This Week ~
Opens April 7 and runs until June 2
Museum Of The Gulf Coast, Port Arthur, TX
Until June 2nd
To view all our upcoming exhibits: http://www.artofwildlife.com/exhibitschedule.html
Have a loved one or a beloved pet you would like captured in miniature? Contact and commission us!
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Until next time ~ Rachelle