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Escaping to Temperate Rainforest

At the end of June we went down to south Devon where we stayed at the truly lovely Hearth Retreat in their little Apple Wagon.

At the Apple Wagon
At the Apple Wagon

It was so peaceful, roaming the fields and woods I was in my element. I just happened to be reading The Lost Rainforests of Britain by Guy Shrubsole – as I am a lover of all rainforests – so it seemed a good idea to visit some temperate rainforest in East Dartmoor National Par, as mentioned in the book.

The Lost Rainforests of Britain by Guy Shrubsole

Temperate – or Atlantic/Celtic rainforest as it is also called – is characterised by trees, often sessile oaks, bearing all sorts of epiphytes – polypody ferns, lichens, mosses, pennywort. The trees literally drip with verdant epiphytic life. Like all rainforests they receive a lot of rainfall that creates rich, moist, tangled layers of lush vegetation that I find incredibly beautiful in dappled sunlight.

We’ve visited smaller patches of rainforest in Wales in the past, but this area in Devon struck me as being more extensive and rich. Nothing beats a river flowing and muttering over rocks in a forest. Here it’s the River Bovey.

Temperate Rainforest
A tangle of ferns, mosses and trees with the river just visible below.

When we returned home I decided to work on another rainforest altered book, but this time of a temperate rainforest. I’ve featured an otter – they visit the River Bovey – a couple of stoats, a pied flycatcher and a jay among the ferns, moss, lichen and rocks.

Temperate Rainforest Altered Book
Temperate Rainforest Altered Book

Once again forests feature in my art. Like the author, Jay Griffiths, forests and woods make me happy. Temperate Rainforest Altered Book is available in my Etsy shop and in my website shop.

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The Shed Rainforest Mural

Shed Rainforest Mural
Shed Rainforest Mural

I mentioned in a previous post that I was painting a mural in the shed at the bottom of our garden. Kevin erected the shed in September last year with salvaged wood and an old shed/treehouse given by a friend.

This spring I set about painting a rainforest mural inside.

My rainforest is a dream forest based on a Central/South American rainforest as it features a jaguar, anteater, toucan, parrot, heliconia flowers and a hummingbird. It also features a Spirit Guardian, a blue woman emerging from the leaves, one of my blue women. I had intended to continue painting a rainforest scene fading into night, but when I found out we may need to move house, I decided to leave it as it is.

My neighbour downstairs said it reminded him of childhood hideaways. Child like or not, it became my little retreat for a while. It was like being in a birdhide listening to the robins that visited for food and fed from my palm, the tits and the resident blackbirds singing from an elder close by while squirrels busied themselves overhead, quite oblivious of me.

As I painted I couldn’t help but overhear my neighbours’ conversations and it was very pleasant hearing the woman next door singing a song that I recognised and later looked up; Erbarme Dich, mein Gott, JS Bach: St Matthew Passion.

Channelling my inner Rouseau - a postcard of Rouseau's The Dream
Channelling my inner Rouseau – a postcard of Rouseau’s The Dream
Anteater - shed mural
Anteater on the right-hand side on the inside of the shed.
Rainforest mural in shed
The left-hand side of the rainforest mural inside the shed.
 Shed Rainforest mural
Shed mural showing the Spirit guardian of the Rainforest

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better”
Albert Einstein.

Quote in Amharic
From the forests we came, to the forests we return.
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Rainforest Concertina Card

In my last post I said I was happy to be at home right now. That’s not exactly true. I spend a lot of time day dreaming about how I’d like to be elsewhere – often overseas, which is quite difficult right now with Covid and the climate crisis making one think twice about flying. I think about how much I would love to be in a rainforest and how much I would have loved to have been a tropical ecologist working in a rainforest, familiar with the birds, mammals, insects etc. That was my dream, or one of them. Still, it didn’t turn out that way. Now I draw forests, trees and rainforests instead, and I’ve just created a Rainforest Concertina card.

Rainforest concertina Card
Rainforest concertina card – day side.
Rainforest concertina card
Rainforest concertina card – night side.

The card shows a scene from a Central or South American rainforest (such as those in Costa Rica or Ecuador). One side is a day scene featuring coatimundis, snakes, monkeys, butterflies and, of course, trees. The other side shows a night scene featuring a jaguar, an oil bird, frogs, small mammals and a tapir. I haven’t seen a jaguar or tapir or even an oil bird, but I have seen coatimundis, capuchin monkeys and morpho butterflies when I was fortunate enough to visit rainforests in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Ecuador.

I don’t anticipate these cards will be as popular as the others, as not everyone has a passion for rainforest like me. Anyway, I wanted to make one. Rainforest concertina cards are available in my Etsy shop and soon my website shop.

Here is a little glimpse of a young caiman I saw on my trip to Ecuador quite a few years ago:

Caiman
Caiman in Ecuador.
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