Island Naturalists

Hocker-kayak-trip-sketch- Spent a blissful three days puttering around Benjamin and North Islands with two naturalist friends. Kayaking and exploring conditions couldn't have been better: warm, sunny days with glassy water, cooler breezy evenings, lovely sunsets, few biting insects. Most importantly, we were surrounded by a paradise of nature puzzles and treasures to discover. Here's a first page of sketches; I'm planning a second page of memory sketches and notes and plan to post it soon.

UPDATE: looks like our mystery orchid is Malaxis (Hammerbya) paludosa, bog adder's-mouth orchid.

Calypso Orchid


Several years ago, I kayaked to a small island and discovered hundreds of calypso orchids (Calypso bulbosa) growing in the forest duff just above the beach. Enchanted with them, but not having a sketchbook with me that day, I carefully unearthed one, packed it gently away, and brought it home to my studio, where I spent many happy hours sketching it and then creating this colored pencil/watercolor portrait. The blossom lasted weeks, then, along with the leaf, died away. For some reason, I kept the corm in a little container next to my drawing table. The next spring, I was surprised one day to notice a new leaf emerging. I quickly took it out to a beach-fringe spruce grove, and carefully planted it.

I know now that these orchids are both rare and sensitive, and I probably oughtn't to have taken it. Although I tried to transplant it, it likely died (I've not been back to look). But all the same, I'm so glad to have had the chance to get to know it so well. Years later, I can still feel the smooth, pearly surface of that corm…