An icy, abstract Scarlet Oak Woods; Earth Day with Leonard and Thom

January was only the third month in four years during which I failed to take a single nature photograph (aside from some backyard wildlife). Mostly that was due to the weather, though it’s too early for the long-distance journeys that the Northern Indiana guidebook will require. [I do have a half dozen, three-to-five-day camping trips planned -- to the tenth of a mile.]

That slothful winter break came to an end on Saturday when a perfect storm of elements – time, weather, new project – inspired an afternoon of exploring the Scarlet Oak Woods in eastern Monroe County. I’ve only been to this Sycamore Land Trust property once, in mid-summer, and we only walked a short distance along the ridge top, just far enough through to grab an image for my Guide to Natural Areas of Southern Indiana.

The new-project element of Saturday’s hike involves Sycamore, an Indiana Nature Photography Wildflower Workshop and an Earth Day book signing event at The Venue Fine Art & Gifts with Mike Leonard and James Alexander Thom. While organizing photos of the Sycamore properties for a slide show and prints I will present and sell that night, I realized I could be scaling a wooded hillside shooting photos instead of sitting on my butt and dragging archive images from hard drive to computer.

Even when the conditions are peak, capturing color, form and light in the Southern Indiana woods in February is a challenge. The ridge top part of the Scarlet Oaks trail presented a handful of curious tree-trunk cavities and some rich earth tones to work with. And the property boundary, announced by brilliant yellow No Trespassing signs, arrived just a few yards from the creek that feeds an unexpected lake on the adjoining property – Schact Lake, according to Google Maps.

With little to show photographically for my trek deep into this classic, 130-foot deep, V-shaped Southern Indiana valley, I skirted the property’s southern boundary line to the west, into the creek valley. What little water there was collected in pools with sheer ice coverings, in places broken by the rocky creek bed’s pebbles, geodes and crinoids, everywhere accented by abstract, sweeping streaks.

The hike back up provided a much-needed cardio workout. Here’s a Photo Album from the day.

In addition to the slide show and a Mike-led conversation with Jim and me, the Earth Day event will feature an exhibit of landscape photography by my Indiana Nature Photography partner Gary Morrison. We’ll be promoting a May 6 Wildflower Workshop, which we’ll lead on Sycamore preserves and from which we’ll donate 10 percent of our receipts to the nonprofit organization.

In return, Abby Perfetti and the good folks at Sycamore promote our colaborations through their various communication platforms. For example, I picked up a copy of the Fall 2016 newsletter The Twig from the box at Scarlet Oak Woods, and it featured a blurb on the Southern Indiana guidebook, calling it “a photo-packed, handy resource.”

Sycamore Land Trust is based in Bloomington and protects more than 9,000 acres of natural Southern Indiana from Nashville to Evansville.

The Earth Day book signing will begin at 6 p.m. and last as long as our guests can stand us.

Much more to come.


Photographs: Scarlet Oak Woods Preserve


 

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