Friday

The Belleisle Bay and a Surprise




The Belleisle Bay... fresh water... inland about 45 minutes... close to where I lived for over 25 years...

...pastoral... rolling farm fields leading down to the water... rising hills on both sides... summer cottages dotting its edges... sailboats... summer lovers... shade trees bordering its edges... sandy beaches... old wharfs no longer used, from an earlier time where the paddleboats and steam driven ships used to stop... there is even a corpse of a paddleboat along one shore..

...a slow moving ferry taking cars from one side to the other, down where it narrows... canoeing... summer... time always seemed to stand still there...





One time when my older children were younger, we were canoeing along its upper reaches, where the water is quite shallow and calm... the bottom sandy in places... gravelly in other spots.... with some places having that gooey silty muck that no one ever liked stepping into...

... beautiful warm evening just before sunset... I looked over my shoulder as we maneuvered past some rushes and the strangest thing I had ever seen jumped out of the water in a big arch about 12' away... then slid back in... and was gone... at least 6' - 7' long... covered with patterns and designs and bony spikes.... I thought I was seeing things... something prehistoric... What was that?... Amazing!

..oh, such a wonderful place to take my young children for a quiet time at the shore... to a place  where sea monsters dwell..!!!!

What was lurking in those waters ?....





I went home... did some research... and discovered it was an "Atlantic Sturgeon"... Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus... one of the oldest families of bony fish in existence... I never knew they came up in the Belleisle and realized I was so lucky to have seen it... They live in the salty ocean and only come up into the rivers and inland bays in the spring when they are fully grown... she must have been finding a spot in the gravelly areas to lay her eggs......possibly 2 million of them... or she could have been feeding in the shallows on worms, crustaceans....

I needn't have worried... they don't eat people... they are benthic feeders which stir up the bottom with their wedge shaped snouts to find food... they don't even have teeth...

This species is threatened due to overfishing, pollution, and poaching in some countries.... This very fish could have put caviar... something I have never tried... on someone's table... They are not all killed to do this... some are milked and put back... I hope she was...

So the next time you venture down to the water look around closely... you never know what you may see...


approx. 5"x 7" brushes, watercolor on 300 lb. CP Arches WP

19 comments:

Sharon said...

It sounds enchanting........monsters and all. Beautiful watercolor too...especially the shadows. Thanks, I love seeing things through your eyes!

Ruth said...

That was like reading a picture book. I have heard that sturgeon are quite ugly, but as you say, they are quite valuable. Don always says, might as well be handy if you can't be handsome. (Not that that is true of him.)

Gwen Buchanan said...

Thanks Sharon, I probably see things pretty simply but I think that is because i have never grown up... Do I have to grow up?

Ruth , this creature made me think "dinosaur"... as ancient as time... it didn't even look as if it had evolved... maybe they were made right the first time!

Sharon said...

Oh Gwen, Please don't!

Anet said...

Milking a sea monster is a wild visual in my head! It's sounds like a wonderful place... I love to canoe in quite still water. I will keep my eye out for monsters!
Thanks for sharing this great moment in your life with us:)

Gwen Buchanan said...

You're welcome Anet, can you imagine ... a monster with no teeth!
Sometimes things are not as they appear...
I guess we have to be careful of first impressions..

Sandy said...

Wow, that must have been cool to see.

Beautiful painting there, love the colors.

Have a happy day tomorrow.

s

wooly daisy said...

your watercolors never cease to amaze me!!!! incredible!!!

Bill Evertson said...

Love the watercolors! Your experience with an ancient being.... Love your ability to translate.

rivergardenstudio said...

What a lovely watercolor and your story and words are beautiful! Roxanne

dberube-art said...

Hey Gwen-
I absolutely love these watercolor studies that you do. Capturing the "essence" of a place is never easy, but you do it successfully time and again!!!!

laura said...

Hi Gwen. These watercolors are perfectly lovely, so fresh and "unspoiled," like their subject. I especially admire the simple and straightforward way you handle the foreground.

Don said...

Milking a benthic, prehistoric mud-churning jumping out of the water monster. Gwen, I think you ought to try your hand at children's lit. You would sell both for your stories and for your illustrations. I want one!

Gwen Buchanan said...

It was cool Sandy, remembering it makes me want to try doing a little sketch of one.. Happy M-Day to you too.

Wooly I should get braver and do them a little bigger...love your goat tales... have they come back?

hey Bill, my story kind of wandered but that is what came to mind when I was done..always something lurking below the surface.. thank you...

Roxanne, thank you for dropping in... with a reference library like you have I feel very humble... your still lives are so romantic!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Thank you David, you make me feel humble too, with all your talent!! Is there anything you haven't tried or don't do? appreciate you dropping over...

Gwen Buchanan said...

Hi Laura, This little watercolor sat and looked at me for days, with me thinking I should do more on it but I never... Then one day I thought ..guess your done then!...

Don, You're sweet! but I am as far from an English major university type as you will find... but If there is no pressure involved... it would surely be fun!

Joe...you're funny... haha.. Like your song... I make up tunes/melodies and sing them all day long but I never write them down... I think I need a tape recorder

Sharon said...

There is also a Belle Isle near Detroit, a striking contrast from your pastoral imagery (at least in my memory).......I remember it as being dirty and unkempt....and the horrible ferry we had to ride to get there! Your Belle Isle sounds much more inviting even with monsters lurking about!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Sharon, I used to think the ferry ride was probably too slow for people who were on their way to work or on their way home... but when I think about it now...maybe not... maybe it gave them time to let the haste of the day fade away...

thealteredpage said...

Another beautiful painting. Wish I could walk into it right now!