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Archive for March, 2011

 

Flag detail-Emmitsburg Road in distance

    The painting of the “Wheatfield” Civil War art is still far from completion. However, I have had some questions as to the progress at times. I took a few photos of just to give the reader an idea as to what has been accomplished thus far. This important  battle was fought at Gettysburg in 1863 during the difficult times of the Civil War. Many of the soldiers came from the Armstrong County, Pennsylvania area where I live.

Although, detail is beginning to take shape, many hours will be needed to complete to my satisfaction.  Much of the detail  will be in the form of insignia; details on hats and uniforms. the research has taken about as much time as the painting. I am learning much through books loaned to me from my friend, Bob “Slim” Bowser. Slim is a Civil War historian.

More work needed

   The photos included here were taken in natural light with a hand-held camera. Please, be advised the quality is not the best. I took the photos as a progress detail only.

I am hoping the painting to be 100% completed sometime this summer and, probably will be. However, there is a gobbler season between now and then..plus some other art I wish to work on… plus the music..and the …………………………

Lt. J. Truitt

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The Allegheny River

  I spent over three hours painting on the “Wheatfield” painting and decided to get outside for a walk. Laurie stated she would like to go too. Of course, she didn’t wish to walk on wooded and hill conditions. She suggested to walk along the Rails To trails north of Kittanning, Pennsylvania. I told her to dress warmly since the air is always moving near the river, meaning wind chill in the twenty degree temperature.

Song Sparrow

  As suspected the air had a wintry chill. We traveled about 1 1/2 miles before she sucumbed to the cold air. Along the river wildlife was scarce. We did see some chickadees and several song sparrows. The chickadees were busy working a hollow tree planning their brood. The song sparrow announced its presence with a beautiful song, but locating him was difficult. Those birds love brush and thick areas.

      Several sycamore trees were loaded with their 2 inch seed pods. The ball-like seed podslooked much like Christmas ornaments

Sycamore seed pods

 

Chickadee

    I find walking without my Springer Spanial to be sad since her age and diabetes have slowed her done. She couldn’t have done a long walk easily. She becomes tired. I had her out last week for about one mile total and she did well. I wouldn’t want to push her much more.

Anyway, Laurie and I had a nice, bit breif walk.

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A Needed Hike

 

Kittanning (looking north- early March)

   I was working on the “Wheatfield” Civil War painting and yardwork and many other items. A little hike was in need since the day was pleasant and rain was coming later. I chose to walk south of Kittanning, Pennsylvania along the Rails to Trails. The trek would continue up and over to a mile long wood lot. 

I saw about six or so walkers and one biker on the trail.  Also, I could easily observe that the river is still rather high, being slow to recede. I didn’t see any waterfowl on the waters this day. Of course, I always keep an eye for the white of an eagle’s head.

Early Dame's Rocket

   The green up of spring has been started for all of those willing to observe. The travels would locate a number of various flowers in their “rosette” stage of growth.  A rosette is a cluster of leaves of certain flowers visible at ground level. Often a dry stalk from last year may be present. The specie I saw this day were the common mullein, garlic mustard, teasel and Dame’s Rocket. I, also, saw lots of wild onion here and there.

The mullein, at this stage, has a very velvety gray-green set of leaves at ground level blooming in summer. The teasel is often used by dried flower arrangers. The blossom dries into a oval-shaped mass often spray painted and used for decorating.

The garlic mustard is an invasive plant seen in mass in early spring with white flowers. I have eradicated them at my landscaping by about 95%!

Teasel

    The “Teasel” is often used in dried flower arrangements. Arrangers will often spray paint them. Be careful when handling them for the dry flower has some  slight spikes.

    Wildlife was abundant this hike. I saw chipmunks; ground hogs (woodchucks); and plenty of bird life.                                                                                                           

Ground Hog

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“Critters”

  

Ring-necked ducks

     March is a great month for firsts.  This is a time when a number of “critters” reconvene back to good “ole” Pennsylvania to begin their annual courtship and mating cycles.  Although, a native, I noticed the first groundhog of the spring on March 7th. The little guy seemed slightly confused as it walked along a barren field of white. The snow was still a ground cover on that date. I guess the internal clock caused a stir and a time to see what is up at ground level. I have seen  several more since that date.

A true first of the year appeared for me on March 10th.  I heard that unmistakable call of the killdeer. That “misplaced plover” is a field bird , whereas most plovers are shore birds. The killdeer lays its eggs in sparse covered fields or barren areas.

    On March 16th, I needed to go to Dayton, Pennsylvania to meet a friend, Dana Gould,  and another gospel musician named Michael Coates. We are planning to do some gospel music at the Dayton United Methodist Church on April 2nd. I decided to go cross-country to see what wildlife would be available to observe. I took some horse photos too. I needed some reference detail for a painting.

   Turkeys! I saw a flock of about 20 birds in one area. Also, I saw a lone gobbler at about 200 yards. I could easily see his beard with the naked eye. At a water hole I saw a lot of geese and  about a dozen of a migrant known as te ring-necked duck. A handsome little duck! I saw the first red-winged blackbirds this day too.   

On March 18th while heading to a banquet of the Alamos Square at Frogtown I saw another flock of turkeys and a lone gobbler near Sherrett, PA. I heard my first spring peepers at dusk this day. I love to hear that little tree frog. My dad would always make sure I was aware of them as a young boy. They would be at a nearby pond.

  I would see a small flock of gobblers near Kittanning. This area is an annual siting place. I saw several great-blue herons this week and some squirrels too.We had some wonderfully pleasent weather as of recent. This allowed for some much needed yard work to be completed.    

Coltsfoot

Also, I have noticed the first coltsfoot flowers peeking out. Those yellow blossoms brighten the drab-colored forest floor.

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    Boy, the time has flown past since my last blog. This is not because I was not involved in things. I just haven’t been active with my site. I have been playing  quite a bit of music. I played five times in seven days last week.  I have been doing some yard work too.

High water

   Today, however, I needed to drop the car off for inspection. I loaded up my walking stick (The Tost Stick was mentioned in a previous blog.) and started walking the railroad tracks on the west side of the Allegheny River.  The river has been high for weeks now due to snow melt-off and lots of rain.

Wood ducks

  The walk began walking the railroad tracks. The high water bordered the tracks and plenty  of waterfowl were present. I saw lots of geese and mallards. I saw one scaup, some mergansers and some wood ducks.

I didn’t go far when I decided to scale the steep embankment and walk parallel to the river. The steep river hills are always a challenge. To add more of a feat I would have to find passage across several steep hollows where beautiful spring-fed streams rushed over rocks towards their river destination.

View from the rocks!

   I climbed higher upslope when I noticed a rock outcrop extending out from the hill-side. My boyhood mentality overtook my maturity (A-hem) forcing a further climb to stand on those rocks to peer the valley and river. I wondered how many native hunters and /or warriors may have stood at this exact site to view the same area.

Beaver gnaw marks on oak

   Eventually, on this hike,  I needed to drop backdown  to the railroad tracks. That destination yielded one problem. Those tracks were cut out of the hill so few places were available to descend with ease. I ended-up using the walking stick as a third leg and carefully worked among rocks and trees to the tracks and my trek back towards West Kittanning.

Muskrat

 I saw plenty of waterfowl, one fox squirrel and a muskrat. Of course, there were plenty of various usual small birds here and there.

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