We have hiked several times in the Theodore Roosevelt area of Jacksonville's vast Timucuan Preserve. A favorite trail leads to an observation platform looking out over the marsh--the views in the above photos. The trail is named after Willie Brown, a man who once lived in a small, isolated, primitive cabin (the cabin footings remain, midway along the trail) in the woodsy region on the way to the marsh. Thus, walking the trail provides two distinct types of terrain and habitat. The view from the observation platform is particularly interesting late in the day, at nesting time for the many water birds who range out from the area.
Next post I will show you two small paintings, studies for possible larger pieces, based on these and other photos from our exploration on the trail a couple of years ago. I took the photos when my sister visited from Maryland, and we explored this area together. Although we have been back since, something about the tidal patterns in photos from our first visit most strongly moved me to paint the scene. For some reason, photos from more recent visits have not struck me with the same power, even though our experience of the natural setting has been amazing every time.
You see the marsh as it looks in early January, warmed by the brown and golden tones of winter grass but yielding fewer bird sightings than in nesting season. I enjoy the lonely expanse and the limited palette of the scene in winter, which focuses my attention on the interesting patterns of the waterways as the tide begins to recede from an earlier high, exposing mud, mussel beds, and tiny scurrying crabs.
Question of the day: What natural beauty has enriched your life recently?