Day 6 or 7 Watercolor Self-tutoring ~ Crow

I’ve sort of lost track of time. Things have been weird lately. After a long crappy day, I went back to a sketch I did late last night and this evening spent a half hour adding pigments and ink to it in the sketchbook.

It helped a lot.

Almost Equinox

Today was the first full day of Spring. The Equinox officially arrived sometime yesterday. These photos were taken a few days ago.

I was reading about the megalithic passage graves in Ireland and Brittany, aligned with the solstice or equinox. Our house is oriented on the cardinal points, and around those astronomical events it becomes quite apparent. Near the Equinox, the sun rises and streams through from one side to the other.

As we grow older, and parents and friends depart this world, makes you think.

We spend our days in a Passage Tomb
Souls suspended
Waiting for the return of the sun

I’m OK with that.

Black Rock Summit

Peak of Black Rock Mountain

Back in college, I often drove out to the Blue Ridge to clear my head. A couple of hours on the Parkway or Skyline Drive did wonders to reset whatever was muddling my thoughts. My buddy, sometime roommate, often did the same. He was up from Guatemala for a while this summer, and we converged out in Shenandoah for a reset. He drove down with extended family from DC.

We met at Big Meadows for lunch, but before that I took a short solo hike to Black Rock Summit. We had a good two days of heavy rain after a week of sweltering heat here in Virginia, but the storm cleared out at dawn. Cleared out the air as well as my head.

The Appalachian Trail passes through here, paralleling the ridge. It’s easy to hop on the trail for short legs. This section passes over the summit, through a rubble field of shattered rock outcroppings. In some places, threading between fractured walls of granite, smooth faces like Inca stonework.

Scrambling up the blocks of stone, from the top there’s a 360 degree view. Tatters of clouds drift up the hillsides and tumble over saddles into valleys, tangle in the trees and hollers.

The lichen are vivid from the rain, and moss revives in cracks and crevices.

Nature is Metal ~ Wool Sower Wasp Galls

Wool Sower Gall on young White Oak

The tiny Wool Sower Wasp stings a fresh young stem and deposits her eggs. The developing eggs use chemicals like hormones to stimulate the tree to produce a very specific growth structure that encases and protects the larvae. This growth is not a normal shape or color or texture of the tree – the growing parasites within the stem tell the tree to do this, and how to do it.

If you open the gall, the larvae look like seeds packed side by side with fuzzy tails. The whole cycle takes two years to complete. Though strangely parasitic, it doesn’t hurt the trees.

Though the gall protects the young larvae from predators, and even pesticides, there are other parasitic wasps that have evolved special ovipositors that allow them to pierce the gall and deposit wasp eggs on the wasp larvae.

Even parasites have parasites.