In August of 2013, I discovered a gem in my town: the Tamarack Nature Preserve. This beautiful wetland has boardwalks through the marsh, trails in the woods, and a variety of bird, animal, plant, and insect species. “It is home to one of the southernmost stands of tamarack trees in the state” (from their website). You can read more about it at: https://www.tamaracknaturepreserve.org/. In my plein air painting days, I walked the boardwalk and sketched and painted. Here is the boardwalk, done in soft pastels:
Some of the paintings I gleaned out of my photos and onsite work included a series of nature pastels, where I would take a photo, then come home and work out a painting from an element in the photo, such as a leaf on water.
An example of this way of working is above. The arrow highlights a leaf, which became this painting (Leaf Reflections 1):
I also created a “Cattails at Tamarack” plein air pastel…
and my favorite, and kind of a “crown jewel” of what this place means to me, “Impressions Along the Boardwalk (done from photo reference, soft pastel).
I’m sure it is obvious, this place has a special place in my heart. Well, the other day I went walking at the preserve. I haven’t been there in quite awhile, and I was surprised to see the parking lot entrance torn up, large trucks rumbling, construction men moving, and a large yellow excavator tearing up the ground in huge chunks. This was the very lot where I had parked my car many times and entered the trail to the preserve. The playground and picnic tables were also gone. I parked down the road a bit, in front of a long line of construction vehicles, wondering what was being built in the parking lot. My mom and I surmised maybe a park building, but I could tell it was too big and imposing for that. After our walk around the preserve, I found a spot across the street to sketch the construction, specifically the excavator. With its behemoth yellow body, large metal scoop, rumbling roar, and dirty treads, I couldn’t resist.
A woman came by and I asked what they were building. She lived across the street and was a witness to the noise and construction every day. She told me that they were building a water treatment facility. Right next to the preserve. I went home and did some research, and sure enough, several of our county wells have been shut down over the years due to elevated PFAS in the water, and a emergency temporary facility is being erected to filter water (summer use is at the forefront), until a permanent facility can be built in 2025. I don’t know what this means for the Tamarack Nature Preserve. I will watch diligently as progress is made and to see how this new facility affects the surrounding area. I wonder if it will have impact on the wetlands it is built next to. I am guessing it will, and that bothers me. I am just glad I can continue to go there and sketch, and hope for the best.