Sunshine and Flowers!

male Purple Finch
One of our resident  . . . and quite soaked I might add . . .  male Purple Finches

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.

art studio
Painting during one of the cold dreary days

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.

Sharp-Lobed Hepatica
A lovely clump of Sharp-Lobed Hepatica
Sharp-Lobed Hepatica
The Hepatica in a pretty pink hue
Sharp-Lobed Hepatica
A close up of their amazing little features

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.

rainbow falls
The beautiful falls at White Oak Sinks
May-Apple photo
A Mayapple that has just come up and has yet to open
squawroot photo
A nice little clump of Squawroot just starting to grow
walking fern photo
A Walking Fern hangs tightly to the side of this moss-covered rock

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!

white oak sinks photo
The group excitedly spot a Dutchman’s Britches blooming
dutchman's britches photo
A close up of this cute little upside down, pant-shaped blossom, which shows you how it got its name
Sweet White Trillium
A stunning Sweet White Trillium blossom
chestnut tops trail photo
A blooming Hepatica hangs on tightly to this rocky cliff

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.

clown fish painting
“Clowning Around” by Wes measures 2 ½ x 3 ½ inches
hermit  crab painting
“Hermit Crab” by Wes measures 2 ½ x 3 ½ inches

~ Come See Our Paintings This Week ~

museumofthegulfcoast

~EXQUISITE MINIATURES Tour

Opens April 7 and runs until June 2

Museum Of The Gulf Coast, Port Arthur, TX

~The Sea of Cortez  Produced by David J. Wagner, at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, AZ

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!

Don’t forget to “Sign Up” to receive an email each time I update the blog!

Until next time ~ Rachelle

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2 thoughts on “Sunshine and Flowers!

  1. S J Smith

    Dear Rachelle and Wes,   I love your emails.They’re so cheering and full of lovely pictures. Thank you for sending them. You make my day every time I open one.   You have helped me in the past regarding easels and I have another question now. Please tell me where to buy an easel like the one you’re using  here,Rachelle.   Sincerely Susan Smith

        http://jazmin-meister.tripod.com

    1. Hi Susan,
      I’m so glad that you enjoy my blog postings so, and that it cheers you!! Thank you for enjoying and appreciating them!
      We purchased our easels from “Cheap Joe’s” perhaps as many as 10 years ago. We also modified them a bit, by adding another horizontal cross support and backboard. I would suggest checking them out for easels.
      Rachelle 🙂

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