Recurring Themes: Boulders

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As I mentioned in an earlier post, I signed up for the first ever semester of the Sketchbook Skool earlier this spring. Our fourth teacher is Jane LaFazio and in her fourth lesson she asked if we had any recurring themes in our sketchbooks, things we like to draw again and again. I have drawn horses all my life and I draw quite a lot of clouds but I suddenly realised there is another recurring theme in my journals: stones, rocks and boulders of all kind. I have always been interested in stones, and me and mom used to collect stones as souvenirs whereever we went and I still do that too. Here is some boulders I have draw over the last year or so. My daily walks with our dog often take me through a really rocky area where the ice age left behind heaps of stones and boulders of all sizes in a haphazard mix of rock types. There is a lot to discover and draw there!

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I must have walked past this boulder countless times before it caught my eye. It’s pretty big, about 2,5 metres across but not that special in itself except for the bluish lichen that grows on it. It was a cold day when I drew this. I have written that my fingers froze and that it took forever for the ink to dry.

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This boulder is about the same size with the first one but this one has clear layers and quartz pebbles in it. The rock surrounding the pebbles is much softer and erosion has eaten it leaving the quartz pebbles protruding from it like pearls or rough diamonds so that the top of the boulders looks like it has pimples! I first noticed this one but afterwards I have found a number of smaller stones with the same characteristics around it.

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This is a proper glacial erratic that I noticed this spring. It might seem odd that I hadn’t noticed a glacial erratic before but there are quite a few of them scattered around in that area. It is large, about 2 to 2,5 metres high and twice as long. It has split in two years and years ago but there is a new rupture in it and a wedge had almost fallen off. The sides of the fracture are still clean and brown as weather, moss and lichen had not had time to invade the newly exposed surfaces. It was pretty warm day when I drew this one and it was the first time this spring that I heard the Common Chaffinch, Fringilla coelebs, sing. According to a Finnish saying it’s a half a month to summer when you hear a chaffinch sing. You can listen to it here. You’ll find the play button below the photo. You can also hear the Common Cuckoo, Cuculus canorus, in the background.

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Water under the Bridge

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Like I said in the previous post, it’ been a weird winter. All the snow seems to have gone to the North America, and all we had were the leftovers. Instead of snowing we got rain and that meant winter floods. We did have snow on Christmas Eve but by Boxing Day it was all gone and the river running through our small country town was brimming with water, so naturally I had to go and have a closer look. The river Lestijoki had been running high all autumn but now it had reached new heights and so some flood water was running above or on the ice sheet. There were patches of some open water under the bridges and other parts of the river where the current is stronger, but otherwise it was dull brown water on snow white ice.

I had our dog, Kili (named after the dwarf in the Hobbit), with me and he tried to rescue branches and sticks from the river while a draw this. Clearly the little rascal has a much higher tolerance for cold water than I.

The bridge in the picture is know as “the old dairy bridge” (see in picture for the Finnish version). It’s pillars are made of large cut stones and they are sloped on the upstream side to stand the pressure and impact of ice floats during spring floods – though usually the ice just melts away with very little drama. I personally haven’t seen a proper flood with lots of ice since I was about 5-6 years old and it now seems that I won’t get to see one this year either. That one time I remember it was spectacular: we watched how the ice flooded fast down the river carrying with it rowing boats that had been left too close to the river and even small sheds. What a sight it was!

Maybe next year.

Spring Arrived Last Tuesday Around 3 pm

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I intended to write about commonplace books on my next post – as discussed on Quinn’s blog – but ach, well. I guess I’ll do it on the next one because spring arrived last Tuesday while I was out of town. Really. I kid you not. This is what the landscape looked like on the previous Sunday:

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The photo is a bit too dark as I took on my mobile phone which doesn’t have the best of cameras, but is was a dull day: clouds hanging low and it was raining for the first time this year. There was snow all around which is a bit unusual for this time of the year. The thermal spring – you can see the definition for Finland here in English – was late this year as the temperatures during the night stayed wall below freezing until last weekend. That’s why the snow lasted for so long and why the migratory birds where nowhere to be seen.

Last Tuesday I drove the 250 km to Jyväskylä for the day. I left in the morning and returned to home around 10 pm. It was a warm and sunny day in Jyväskylä but I didn’t think much of it as the town lies in the Central Finland where the seasons follow a slightly different rhythm than here closer to the coast. And it was dark as I arrived back home so I didn’t pay much attention to the snow situation though, as an afterthought, that it was dark should have meant something.

It hit me the next morning when I went out to get the morning paper: where the heck has all the snow gone? It was practically all gone over night. Tuesday morning – late winter, Wednesday morning – spring. The same scene from our daily walk with the dog now looked like this:

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(It’s composite panorama. That’s why the perspective is a bit wonky.)

The only snow left are the wet patches left in the shaded ditches and by woods and buildings; The ditch on the right, eastern side of the road gets much more direct sun than the left, western side one. Everywhere else, gone.

And the wind is warm, even the gale that has been blowing since last night. And the birds are here: the swans, cranes, skylarks and the Northern Lapwings. It’s officially spring now.

Revolutions

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I found these saprophytic fungi growing on a dead but still standing birch tree one autumn few years ago. The tree was full of them, proving for new growth in its death. Today the snow is melting fast and great tits are collecting materials for new nests. The world turns and life regenerates – endlessly.

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