Deer Woods Trail Notes
Deer Woods Trail is a project I’ve been working on since 2015. I have a field next to my old house that has been fallow for many years. We used to have horses as kids and a red barn in the field, as well as a cow or two. It was carefully tended until after I was through college. The horses were sold, as I lived away from the area for some years. My parents got too old to care for the farm, so the barn was left to rot away and the field grew up with pines, water oaks, wild plums and various other saplings.
About three years ago, I had planned a tree workshop and asked my sis to get on her riding mower and mow a path around the field, so my students could get nearer to the big trees. Deer Woods Trail was born. I had a cheery yellow tin sign made for the trail head. I’ve walked the trail twice a day for three years. About a month ago, we cleared a new piece of trail, an offshoot from the original. It is closer to the swamp behind my studio. It enables me to see more of the old growth cypress trees that have grown there for many years. In dry years, the water disappears. When my daughter Sara was a child, she built a fort in the swamp. In the last few years, the swamp has been full of water in the summer, drying up in winter. At night I can hear the critters converse with each other. Twice, we have had a gator in the back yard during wet seasons, startling for sure. In summer, I don’t walk the trail from June through September. There are canebrake rattle snakes and cotton mouths who wander the woods all summer. We keep it mowed so we will be able to find it again in the fall.
I found the old magnolia tree that my mother planted in front of the barn. I used to tie my horse up to that tree. It is now huge, with glossy deep leaves. The next leg of the trail will take me closer to it so I can get some good photos of it to paint next year. We will begin cutting the next leg next winter, when everything is dormant. Cutting a trail is hard work for a couple of old sisters. We work on it slowly.
Deer Wood Trail brings back memories of my childhood and offers me an understanding of upland Florida. I name the tortoises who live there and Henry (studio dog) and I enjoy our exercise walks each day. I paint the big trees on the trail too. I will be taking the Upland Naturalist Program later this year and will become certified as an upland naturalist. I look forward to understanding my trail even more.
This is the current trail map:
More musings for artists and collectors to come….
Al the tortoise, has emerged from his den this week. He has been basking in the sun on the sand around his den. He and Henry are still battling for territory. So far, Al is winning.
Don’t forget my next demonstration painting at Paddiwhack on May 6th, at 2 PM. Snacks are provided.
My annual cake party is May 13th at Paddiwhack Gallery, 11 AM -4PM.
Thanks for this recipe Penny.
Side dish for ham
You cream a stick of butter with a cup of sugar and then add 4 eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Break 3 slices of white bread into bite-sized pieces and add to creamed mixture, plus one large can of drained pineapple chunks. Mix well and pour into a greased 2 qt casserole and bake 350 for an hour.