The Land Where Giants Live

Bernheim forest

I loved this tree with sculpted limbs!

SO where is the land in which giants live? . . . you may wonder. Well, we discovered where at least one family of them lives, while visiting Wes’ parents in southern Indiana this past week. His parents have been to see the giants at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest located in Clermont, Kentucky, and had been wanting us to see them as well, since they’re so amazing! I must admit that I was delighted to visit them in person, after having only seen them in photos, and as we all know, things like friendly giants are so much better in real life! 

The trio of woodland giants were crafted by Danish artist Thomas Dambo, using recycled wood from the region. This “giant” task was to help Bernheim celebrate their 90th anniversary back in 2019. The giants are accessed via walking trails through the woodland. It’s great fun to round the corner and voila’ there sits a huge smiling giant, and you can’t imagine just how big they are, until you’re standing beneath one.

Thomas Dambo giant sculptures Little Elina

Jeanie and I with Little Elina 

Thomas Dambo giant sculpture Little Elina

Obviously Elina likes playing with rocks

A short distance from Little Elina, sits Mama Loumari, lounging back against the trunk of a large tree. It’s no wonder that she’s taking it easy while the other two children play, as she has a baby giant inside her belly! The tale goes on to explain that the dad is off hunting, and I say good luck to him with trying to find enough food to keep his large family fed . . . Ha Ha!

Thomas Dambo giant sculptures

Now that is what I call a BIG toe . . . HaHa!

While I think the main bodies may be constructed with slats from old wine or whiskey barrels, I can plainly tell that her luxurious hair is made from large limbs and sticks. 

Thomas Dambo giant sculpture Mama Loumari

A bit farther through the woodland sits Little Nis admiring his reflection in a small lake. Or perhaps he’s watching the fish, but whichever it may be, he’s obviously quite mesmerized with it, since he hasn’t moved at all since 2019! 🙂

Thomas Dambo giant sculptures Little Nis

Once again, you just can’t appreciate the grandeur and scale of these giant sculptures until someone is standing by them. I can only imagine what it must sound like when their stomachs growl, LOL!

Thomas Dambo giant sculptures at Bernheim forest

Berheim Forest is a beautiful place to spend a relaxing day, even on a gray day. The four of us enjoyed driving through the park a couple of times, and stopped to take a relaxing walk on the Canopy Tree Walk, rising 75′ into the air. Once you reach the end, you’re rewarded with a bird’s eye view of the forest below!

berheim forest canopy tree walk

That’s a teeny tiny Wes out at the very end of the canopy walk

wes siegrist at Bernheim forest

Jeanie, Wes and George feeling high!

There are several other wonderful sculptures along the trails at the forest, such as the one below, crafted by Artist Justin Roberts, using invasive species most threatening to whippoorwill habitat, which were harvested at the arboretum. Justin entitled the piece “Sounds of a Whippoorwill – Bernheim“, and intends to bring awareness to the birds population, and the encroachment of invasive plant species on their habitat. Being a lover of whippoorwills and their beautiful song in the night, I loved this sculpture and it’s statement. 

Bernheim forest sculptures

Another cool sculpture is part of Bernheim’s Playcosystem. Crafted by Artist Jayson Fann “Spirit Nest” is a fun tree house art installation that allows children big and small to enjoy playing on and in it.

Jayson Fann spirit nest sculpture

“Spirit Nest”

As you can see from the photos, we all enjoyed a peaceful time out in nature at Bernheim. We also enjoyed a lovely visit with his parents, spending the rest of our time there on the farm, taking walks to the pond and trying to feed the fish, which sadly weren’t hungry. Wes and I rang in the New Year back at our little cabin in the woods, and I started off the year in a most delightful way! It was warm enough that I was able to eat breakfast on the front porch, while watching the numerous birds visiting our feeders. There were so many birds as a matter of fact, that it almost seemed too good to be true, like one of those ecards you get, where the peaceful setting showcases a few birds eating, and then more and more birds keep flying in and joining them until it looks like a fairytale setting. Well, that’s exactly how it was yesterday morning, and so spectacular that I was moved to tears with feeling truly blessed to be able to share it with so many feathered friends!

As we embark upon this new year, I’m reminded of a wonderful saying “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away” ~Maya Angelou. May you experience times throughout this next year, that truly take your breath away.

bernheim forest trail

Wes and I wish you a Blessed New Year filled with peace, good health and much laughter!

See our miniatures in person this week

Society of Animal Artists 2021 Exhibition
The Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum, located in Oradell, NJ, until January 16th, 2022

Society of Animal Artists The Kingdom Show
The Midland Center for the Arts, located in Midland, MI, until January 16th, 2022 

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

Contact us by EMAIL heresiegrist@artofwildlife.com

Until Next Time ~ Rachelle

Merry Christmas 2021

charlie brown christmas tree

I hope you enjoyed a peace-filled Christmas. With all the craziness in the world anymore, I believe peace is one of the nicest gifts I could’ve wished for you this year. Wes and I enjoyed a peaceful one at home with a nice long walk in the woods and lunch on the back porch, whilst watching the birds. 

If you’ve been following my blog for the past few years, you’ll remember I almost always share a photo of my Charlie Brown Christmas tree with you. Well, this year I decided to add a fun twist to the tradition, and while I still have up my little interior Snoopy tree, I decided to borrow it’s blanket and ornament and headed out into the woods to find just the right little tree that needed a little extra love this Christmas. Since we have lots of little pines on our property, I must admit I had a very hard time choosing the right one, but finally found this wee little beauty. I carefully placed the red ornament on it and wrapped the tiny blue blanket around it, and upon seeing it, decided it was perfect! And you know what? . . . I do believe it stood up a little taller!

We’ve enjoyed several nice days this past week weather-wise, so we decided to build fires on a few of them. Of course it became the prime setting for enjoying lunch outside as well, and moreover, perfect for roasting a couple of marshmallows for a little dessert in the afternoons! We chose a location in the front yard to place our fire pit where we can sit and watch all the birds that now frequent our feeders!

campfire

And speaking of birds, this past week was a very exciting one for birdwatching! Whilst eating lunch one day, and looking out the window, we saw a Pileated Woodpecker fly up and land nearby on a sumac tree. Then it started tearing into the sumac berries, and was very much enjoying devouring them! 

Pileated Woodpecker

We had never seen a Pileated eat berries like that before, and excited to be watching that one, we couldn’t believe it when another one flew up, landing right beside the first and commenced eating the berries as well! Then they started spreading their wings and tail feathers, and hanging upside down and climbing up and down the limbs, as if they were dancing the tango! I’m not quite sure if it was a territorial dispute, mating ritual or perhaps a fight over the scrumptious berry supply, but whatever it was, I was thrilled to have been given a chance to watch such an amazing interaction of these two big, beautiful birds!

Pileated Woodpecker2

I know you’re gonna think I’m making this up, but then it got even better when a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker flew up and joined in on the berry buffet! 

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Another morning I looked out of our bedroom window and noticed several birds on the ground just outside, and instantly realized it was a flock of Slate-colored Juncos. They were picking at small seeds on the ground and peaceably went about this business of eating for quite some time, so I happily stood there watching them. 

Slate-colored Junco

A few minutes later I noticed a larger bird flew up, and saw that it was a Yellow-shafted Flicker, and it too was picking around and eating seeds on the ground. They are such strikingly beautiful birds to me with their interesting mix of patterns. 

Yellow-shafted Flicker2

I love how it looks like they’re sporting a handlebar mustache and a thick clump of black chest hair when they look straight at you!

nature blog, artist blog, yellow-shafted flicker, wildlife photo

 

Then of course there’s their lovely back feathers complete with a gorgeous bright red “handkerchief” on the back of their heads. What another delightful morning of bird watching right out of a window in our cabin!

yellow-shafted flicker, wildlife photo

Having finished putting the roof on the front porch, we started bringing down more rocks for our patio we’re building out back. We love going to the “rock store” as I call it, where there are a few big stacks of sandstones which were mined a long time ago and left, as they were considered the “B” rocks. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to be able to go pick out any rock you like and know it’s free! The only catch is, we have to load them into the wheelbarrow and get them down the hill and carefully unload them where we’re going to use them. Some are absolutely gorgeous, but just too big for us to move, so Wes carefully managed to slowly chisel away and separate several of them, thus making them a more manageable size to handle. Once we get it finished I’ll share a step-by-step collection of photos with you. Another fun project was building a bench down by Sunken Creek. Wes chipped away until he got all of the bark removed form the cherry logs, then we buried them partly in the ground and attached an extra board we had to the top. It should last a very long time, and sure does create a wonderful place to sit and relax while watching and listening to the little creek. 

Wes and I want to wish you a blessed New Year filled with good health, much laughter, and peace!

nature photo

See our miniatures in person this week

Society of Animal Artists 2021 Exhibition
The Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum, located in Oradell, NJ, until January 16th, 2022

Society of Animal Artists The Kingdom Show
The Midland Center for the Arts, located in Midland, MI, until January 16th, 2022 

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

Contact us by EMAIL here: siegrist@artofwildlife.com

Until Next Time ~ Rachelle

The Gifts of Nature

bluebird photo2

“The bluebirds are here!” said Wes, and I come running. Earlier I could hear them off in the distance, as we sat on the back porch eating lunch, and waited anxiously for them to appear. But they never came, that is until we stepped back inside, and as if on cue, all of a sudden there they were. I grabbed the camera hoping to get a better photo of them this time, and thankfully I did. I love everything about the above photo. The bluebird with head turned my direction, the moss growing on the clothesline board, the rusty brown leaves in the background serving as the perfect complimentary color for the azure blue of the back feathers, and of course the brightly-lit raindrops clinging to the bottom of the wood. I am suddenly inspired and think “I will have to paint this!” So when I do, I’ll share the painting process of it with you.

bluebird photo

Wes and I built a fence around a small section of the backyard where we will be growing our garden this coming spring. The bluebirds are delighted to have all of the new perching options, and believe we built it just for them. Just as the deer believe we made the trails winding through the woods just for them, as we see evidence of them using it daily in the form of deer prints in the dirt. The squirrels are happy too, as they finally found the squirrel feeder with sunflowers in it. All of this delights me, for I love birds and critters and it makes my heart happy when I feel we’ve enriched their lives in some way. 

bluebird photo3

I know it’s out of focus, but I love the movement captured in this photo

Yesterday the mist hung around all day. I’m not sure if it was fog or perhaps clouds that stayed with us here atop the plateau, but it creates a wonderful mysterious atmosphere in the woods, and I cannot resist walking the trails in it. It’s so quiet as I walk along, that I feel as if I’m miles away from everything, that it’s just me, the mist, trees and critters.

nature photography6

Everywhere you look, tiny, brightly-lit water droplets once again cling to everything, and it’s magical!

nature photography4

The various moss and lichens growing on the trees look amazing with the rich, moist air, turning the woodland into a botanical moss garden, for a moss lover such as myself!

nature photography3

And I find I just can’t stop taking photos of it, but will limit them to just these two for your sakes, Ha! I have to stop and pet it too, for there’s something very satisfying about gently patting a soft, lush clump of moss! So, if you’ve never taken the time to stop and pet the moss, I highly recommend you try it sometime, and you too will probably become a moss petting addict! 🙂

nature photography

Our lovely little Sunken Creek is doing well thanks to these moisture rich days, and I find there’s something quite peaceful and mesmerizing about watching it’s ever-changing abstract patterns, whilst listening to the sounds of tiny cascades trickling.

nature photography5

We’ve enjoyed multiple sunny days here as well this past week and temps so mild at times, that we’ve been able to enjoy eating a few meals on the back porch, which is always a treat! One evening while enjoying supper on the porch, we watched the moonrise. It was lovely against the backdrop of the soft lavender skies paired with fluffy pink clouds. This magical landscape came to life when our resident bat, Batty, flitted into view, and commenced her aeronautical rituals of catching bugs against the lovely backdrop. After we finished supper, I sat in my favorite swinging chair for well over an hour, watching as the last glimmer of sunlight disappeared from the evening sky, and the landscape became illuminated by the nearly full moon. The only sounds I could hear was the wind softly blowing through the pines, and the train horn blowing occasionally off in the far distance. I was happily content gently swaying back and forth completely immersed in the peaceful setting. I am reminded at moments like that, how many times, it’s the simple things in life that bring us the greatest joy. And with all of the numerous distractions these days, I fear that we’ve lost the art of enjoying simple pleasures such as sitting on the porch enjoying the sights and sounds of a moonlit evening. So perhaps sometime during this coming Christmas holiday, you can take a little while to just be still in nature for awhile. Who knows, you may find it’s the best Christmas gift you received. 

log cabin

Shown in the above photo is the latest progress on the front porch. We actually got a lot done on it this past week, and just have to purchase and install the clear roofing panels this next week. We’ll be building a corner flower box on the open side of the porch, and capping the unused 6X6, and then it will be time to enjoy the fruits of our efforts!

See our miniatures in person this week

Society of Animal Artists 2021 Exhibition
Wes and I each have a painting in this exhibition currently at the  The Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum, located in Oradell, NJ, November 20, 2021 – January 16, 2022

Society of Animal Artists The Kingdom Show
November 26, 2021 – January 16, 2022 at  The Midland Center for the Arts, located in Midland, MI. Wes and I each have a painting in this exhibition

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

Contact us by EMAIL here: siegrist@artofwildlife.com

Until Next Time ~ Rachelle