Unexpected weekend sunshine sent us on a road trip north of Juneau to a little beach near Sunshine Cove. We sat several hours on a rocky outcrop, watching and listening to the abundance of the wakening northern world. I took the opportunity to practice drawing the textures of foliage on the little salt-battered shoreline spruce.
They're not out yet, but the snow is starting to erode, and underneath, in the moist soil, in the creeks and ponds and sloughs, they're waiting, dreaming of blood… They're no-see-ums or biting midges (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae).
A friend called me to ask if I wanted to offer a scientific view of a no-see-um to an art show in which he's featuring his own, rather more fanciful, version of the bug. Sounded fun to me. The challenge was figuring out what genus the insect in my reference photo is… I think I have it narrowed down to Culicoides, but not sure.
Spent a very pleasant last weekend in Sitka, participating in the annual Arti-Gras festival. I taught a couple of workshops. I didn’t do much sketching on my own (mostly just demos for class) but I did spend one lunch hour watching birds at Thompson Harbor, resulting in this little memory page. As always, Sitka was lovely and lively. It was a special pleasure to spend time with two wonderful Southeast Alaska naturalists and bloggers, see their blogs:here and here.
This is milo (Thespesia populnea), a small tree we saw fairly frequently, especially near beaches. It may be native to Hawaii, but may also have been brought to the islands by the Polynesians–in either case, it's a very important tree in Hawaiian culture.
Milo is widespread in coastal areas of the East Indies and Polynesia. The wood is rich reddish-brown at the heart, with some white "marbling" that is quite lovely; we saw many beautiful things made from milo wood.
We also appreciated the cool, deep shade it provides along the beaches–especially important to this pale, easily-burned Alaskan…
Just got back from a vacation on the island of Hawaii (Big Island). Being ocean people, we spent most of it in the water or directly adjacent. One of the loveliest places we visited was Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, south of Kealakekua Bay on the west coast. Spent the morning alternately snorkeling and sketching, looking across the lava shelf to the serene palms of the park.