My friend M, the finder of the shelter and the rock people, also put me on the trail of two little clay owls. I was halfway into a drawing today before I realized I was drawing the owls and not the sculpture I thought I was drawing. The sculpture shown here is small, around 15 " high and approximately the same width. I at first thought it was a small-headed man sitting in a chair with little heads clustered around his shoulders. I thought the owls must be somewhere nearby in the woods. Then my friend (not M) said "These are owls" and so they were! M had photographed only two of the really tiny owls, and I had been expecting to find two clay owls only. It just shows how expecting to see something changes what we see. When I spotted the man in the chair, I immediately thought it was NOT the owls.
Here is one of the little owls, drawn about actual size. The sculpture is down on the forest floor of a golden grove of large bamboo. It rests in a drift of golden leaves.
On the right side of this page is a mysterious leaf that P and I always wonder about. It never seems to have flowers or stem, and it stays green all winter long. It always looks strangely dry and unalive. Today I was looking up Mountain Laurel for my friend A. when we were on the River Trail, and up popped this very leaf on a page of NC wild flowers! It's called the Adam and Eve orchid or the Putty Root orchid.
Okay, back to the sculpture. Two more of the little owls on the left, and the whole ensemble in situ on the right. It is quite amazing to come upon something like this in the woods. The river runs below the golden bamboo grove and the grove itself sits on a low cliff over the water. The sculpture looks out over the water through a few stems of bamboo. There is no artist's signature, nothing to identify it. It is of matte-glazed fired clay, a kind of medium brown, an enigmatic and really interesting piece.
Now switching back to the putty root with some details. I looked it up since at this time of year there is only the dessicated-but-still-green leaf. I found several web pages that gave pictures of the flower, which reputedly comes in May and is a tiny orchid. The leaves have chlorophyll in winter only and the food the plant makes is stored in its root, which is a corm. The leaf dries up and dies before the bloom comes. This page gives details about this plant. Now I'm going to be on the lookout for the seed pods and the flowers as the seasons progress.