Friday, August 29, 2014

Wild Rice and Sweet Rush (oil on canvas, 6 x 12 in.) Sold

21 August 2014 finds us at dusk looking across a marsh on Long Creek just above its confluence with the Canaan River, 13 km northeast of Cambridge Narrows, New Brunswick.  I have found my scene for a Fragile Crossings painting, just before the road enters the covered, wooden "Starkey's Bridge". We are looking out over soft green flats of what is apparently Wild Rice.

As I quickly brush in the lowering clouds, a Great Blue Heron glides and strokes in to the marsh south of the road, announcing its arrival with modest croaks - then flaps off again with grotesque protests when it sees Fred poking about in its fishing spot. A Belted Kingfisher rattles by in the dusk, and then a few notes sound from an unseen Canada Goose break the silence as the guardrail near the bridge pops as it loses the heat of the day. Soon Fred brings me a long green blade of something that smells enchantingly sweet as he folds and crushes it - Sweet Rush, Acorus calamus. What a romantic spot, to have both these special plants as well as a dramatic sunset!

So the flat pale green of my scene is Wild Rice, Zizania, in bloom with its tasslely yellow and pinkish stamens. Upstream it is variegated by curving bands of darker green Sweet Rush - the two most romantic wetland graminoids are dancing together along the creek as if planning to be painted.

The covered bridge bridge dates from 1912 and has been subsequently carefully re-enforced.  It is supported by the sandstone slabs we've seen so much of around here, and the exposed stretches of this under the span is crowded by empty mussel shells - mostly Elliptio complanata (Eastern Elliptio) and Lampsilis radiata (Eastern Lamp-Mussel) and perhaps some other species that remain to be sorted out. Fred is specially looking for Strophitus undulatus, the Squawfoot or Creeper, one of his favorite species. It has been ambiguously reported from this general area, but is not otherwise known in New Brunswick. Only a close inspection of every specimen will assure us that it's not here. These shells probably originate in a combination of "predator shell pile" and material drifted in by the river current. Many are tucked in among along the horizonal beams that are the footings of the bridge. Our drift sample from here includes Catfish bones that are probably the leaving of fishing birds.

The proposed Energy East Pipeline river crossing is 4 kilometres northeast of here.

Dear patrons and supporters,

The original oil painting, "Wild Rice and Sweet Rush" is available for bidding by e-mail to support our exploration of the proposed route of the Energy East Pipeline. Please contact Aleta at karstad(at)pinicola(dot)ca. The starting bid is $400 and the auction closes at midnight on Friday, 5 September. 

You may also contribute online to our independent ecological assessment of pipeline river crossings. Visit our campaign page and share the link!

Fred & Aleta

1 comment:

  1. Our first encounter with Long Creek was on 26 August 2012, coming back from another bioblitz, when we crossed it at the Hwy 10 bridge, and commented "shallow dry-bed small river in grassy fields....looks nice, probably should have stopped here. - but if we stopped everywhere, when would we ever get home?" The Energy East pipeline crossing is about halfway between the Hwy 10 and Starkey bridges.