Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fall in the Fakahatchee

You can click on any image above to view larger.
Last Saturday, we met at the blue Harmon Building on Janes Scenic Drive within the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park.  From this starting point, we could choose a number of possible sketching locations.  Across the road is Lake Gloria, named after the wife of the former landowner.  The lake was created years ago when it was dug for roads and construction.
The door to the Harmon Building.

I chose to sketch the back extension of Lake Gloria, which formed a pond bounded by cypress, cattails, and a grassy area filled with blooming and seeding goldenrod.  A perfect day for sketching, with the sun warming my back, and a cool breeze ruffling the lake and my sketchbook pages.

Monarch and Gulf Fritillary butterflies  flitted between Spanish needles, goldenrod and a tiny purple morning glory (Ipomoea triloba? ) straggling over the rocky ground below my feet near the lake’s edge.  A little blue heron kept vigil from a nearby young cypress tree, flying back and forth from the far edge of the lake to the tree, keeping an eye on me.  Was I friend or foe?    
Little blue heron.

Black vulture feather?
Black vultures circled around and around in a distinctive kettle pattern over the cypress dome, and a pair of kingfishers swooped though the air playfully chittering to each other.  The heat of the sun brought out that unique earthy fragrance of freshwater lakes.  The clear blue sky slowly filled with clouds ahead of the oncoming front, breathing a gentle softness over the skin.  The light changed again and again within two hours, as I struggled to capture what I could.

November is filled with subtle colors here – the rusty sienna of bald cypress needles ringing the pond contrast with the bright greens of shrubs and grasses.  Cattail stands are silvery white, golden brown, and green, all at the same time.  The grassy space to my right was filled with a range of yellow, gold, and brown as tall stands of sturdy goldenrod alternately bloomed and went to seed. 

The pond’s surface changed constantly with the light and the wind – first a mirror to the blue sky, then the reflective browns and greens of the foliage around the edge, then tannin-stained clearness in the shallows, revealing rocks and the hulking shapes of gar fish and darting minnows.  Dragonflies floated on the breeze, moving aimlessly from cattail to rock to grass tip.

White pelicans!
In the early afternoon we were treated to a rare sight: a group of over three dozen white pelicans searching for a spot to land.  I learned from the ranger with us that white pelicans seldom come this far inland this time of year, usually preferring nearby coastlines.  We speculated that the upcoming front perhaps drove them this far into the center of the state.  Whatever the reason, it was an amazing sight, and the perfect end to a perfect sketching day!

The fall colors of the Fakahatchee, along the bank of Lake Gloria.
The sketch was done in my:
Aquabee Super Deluxe  spiral-bound sketchbook
9x6 in, (22.86 x 15.24 cm), 93 lb. paper,
Sakura Micron Pigma pen 01, Niji waterbrush,
and Faber-Castell Aquarelle watercolor pencils.