Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cape Cod 2011

Walking to Great Island in Wellfleet
We went to Cape Cod for a couple of weeks. It was a time to recharge after preparing for the exhibition at F.A.N. Gallery for the past year. It was wonderful to go for long walks with the kids. We took them to Great Island in Wellfleet where we were able to see fiddler crabs (or as Aidan calls them, "fitler craps"). Along our hike around Great Island we smelled something much stronger than the salty muddy smell of the marsh -- the carcasses of two dolphins. They must have beached some time in the winter or early spring.  The kids were more interested in the fiddler crabs scurrying for their holes when the kids came running up to the waters edge than the dolphins. 

There were other wildflife encounters that were more pleasant. We found hermit crabs on the beach and Jim put them in a bucket for the kids to watch for a while before returning them to the sea. There were seals out in the water, who come to a protected area near Head of the Meadow beach in Truro to have their pups and feed. From a distance they look like black Labrador retrievers swimming with just their heads above water until you realize that they are far too large and long to be a dog.

On a walk up to the lighthouse we saw a Black Racer snake.  It reared up about 8 inches off the ground when we walked into its space. It was around four feet long and really quite beautiful.  I pulled the kids back not knowing what kind of snake it was and deciding to err on the side of caution.  I later asked the woman running the gift shop about the snake and she told me what it was and that it was not harmful. I wished I had let the kids look at it longer instead of rushing them away from it. 
Wild Turkey

One afternoon, when driving back to the cottage we saw a very large wild turkey on someone’s deck. The photo does not do it justice. Another afternoon we saw a fox come bolting across the road with something in its mouth. It was large and at first I thought it was a small coyote but Jim thought it was a fox. I think Jim is right and it is a gray fox.  

Gray Fox
Even around the cottage we rented in the woods were were inundated with wildlife. We saw deer and hawks. The kids loved chasing rabbits, chipmunks, and quail around the cottage. Early one morning, Jim saw a weasel chase a rabbit out from under the deck. The poor rabbit did not make it. 

At Pilgrim Lake we saw a swan from the vantage point of the bluffs above the lake. 

I was surprised to see so many different wild animals. It was wonderful to get away from the city and enjoy the woods, water and wildlife.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Penguin (spheniscus humboldti)

Cool thoughts for a ridiculously hot day...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lloyds Tower (Donegal)

Kate Kern Mundie, Lloyds Tower (Donegal), oil on masonite, 20 x 40 inches, 2011

Artists are intrigued by ruins, from 17th-century genre painters depicting Roman ruins in a Flemish landscape, 18th-century paintings done on the “Grand European Tour”, or even current realists depicting the dilapidation of industrial landscapes and urban blight.  The artist might choose for their composition to include ruins as a curiosity, to symbolize an allegory, or as documentation.  I painted Lloyds Tower partly because of its curious nature - an isolated tower with an interesting history, but I also used the tower to give a sense of scale to the painting.  It is a manmade structure in a rugged and austere landscape. The landscape is very abrupt:  land… sea. The tower helps tie the painting together. 

History of the tower:

Banba’s Crown or Malin Head sits at the northern tip of Ireland.  This area on the  Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal has been a look out station for the last few centuries.

During the Napolenonic wars, the British built the tower as part of the 100-plus Martello lookout towers constructed to resist a potential invasion by Napoleon along the coast of England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and the Channel Islands. The tower later served as a weather station and then a signal tower for the famous insurance company Lloyds of London. Employees stationed at the tower used semaphore and telescope to communicate with ships and the island of Inishtrahull’s lighthouse six miles away.

In 1901, Guglielmo Marconi set a radio signal station in the Lloyds Tower and in 1902 succeeded in sending the first commercial radio message from Malin Head to the ship S.S. Lake Ontario Later the station was taken over by the Post Office for communications.

During World War 2, Malin Head was once again used a lookout station. Other buildings were constructed nearby to house the Irish Defence Forces to keep a lookout and protect Irish neutrality. From the tower you can still see the word "EIRE" spelled out in stones to enable planes to identify their position and to recognize Ireland's neutrality in WWII. Since then, others have added their names along side Eire.

This spot may have been a look out long before the Martello Tower was built. It was originally named for the goddess Banba, the first person to set foot in Ireland.