In June of last year, I stayed for a week in the old farmhouse at the Trail Wood Sanctuary. The property was once home to nature writer Edwin Way Teale and his wife Nellie, and was donated by Nellie to the Connecticut Audubon Society in Pomfret. The farmhouse has been preserved, just as the Teales left it, including Edwin’s study. 168 acres of wetlands, forests, and meadows surround it, and there are trails that lead to many special places.
I came here to plan a narrative non-fiction picture book that captures the ever-changing characteristics of a grassland (meadow) habitat. It would represent the interconnectedness of life on a small scale, while alluding to the larger message of environmental stewardship.
The hot and humid days, rainy days, and swarms of deerflies were all part of Trail Wood’s environment, so I embraced them. I especially enjoyed getting up before sunrise so I could walk to the center of Starfield or Firefly Meadow to hear the dawn chorus. Along the trails I sketched the landscape and took many pictures (see video below), which were important references for creating watercolor paintings back in the studio. There is a lot more to do before this idea turns into an illustrated story, but the experience was educational for me, and I savored the solitude.
I highly recommend this residency opportunity for artists, photographers, writers, and poets. Visit ctaudubon.org/trail-wood-artist-in-residence for details and application. The Trail Wood Sanctuary is located in Hampton, CT. If you’re seriously interested, contact me. I can fill in some details that are not on the CT Audubon’s website.