Like most, I am charmed by the Blue Jay's color and size. It's the second largest and second most colorful bird at our feeder. This Blue Jay has been visiting at about 6:40 am. He or she (male and female look the same) was even polite for a moment when waiting for another bird to finish at the suet feeder.
My kids both learned a lot about birds in their preschool class. They have often repeated one message to me whenever they see a Blue Jay. "Mom, you know they eat baby birds. They're mean."
While they usually make their presence known with a signature call that isn't exactly pretty, when I became acquainted with this courteous Blue Jay I began to wonder if they deserve the bad rap. With a little research I found out. The answer is yes. Blue Jays are related to Crows and both eat meat, like other bird meat. Yikes!
Who knows, maybe the suet in this Blue Jay's belly saved some other little bird's life!
Goldfinches are normally a very rare sight in our yard. Once or twice over the last two years, the kids and I have seen one fly through. So, the fact that one came to our bird feeder on Monday (and it returned briefly yesterday!) is very exciting news. Could it be related to the fact that we "adopted" a goldfinch through the Audubon Society as a Mother's Day gift the day before? I don't know, but sometimes the universe does work in mysterious ways.
This sketchbook page is a part of a new art habit that I hope to continue. I have about 25 pages left in the book to use for a daily practice of capturing animals and plants in my yard. I was brainstorming with my son about starting a project to document all of the flowers in our yard, and he replied, "Well, you and dad better stop planting new ones then." Very sharp he is.
Each sketch teaches me a tremendous amount. It channels my attention to detail, whether its the markings on a bird that tell its gender, subtle differences in a flower species or a plant's leaf shape. Details help refine google searches, thereby opening a wealth of information. Field guides help too!
In the meantime, this practice helped me to celebrate the "nest warming" of my new neighbor. I hope I can spot her again real soon.
Here I go. As I embark on this kid lit adventure, I find it to be so satisfyingly challenging. Not only does it involve writing and art making, but it also requires a deeper synthesis of details than either of those two activities compels by itself.
In 1879, John Muir visited Glacier Bay, Alaska for the first time. He was accompanied by Native Tlingit men and a missionary. To envision this historical narrative I've needed to dive into another world, informed by historical resources (both primary and secondary) and images. In August, I will return to Alaska myself with eyes wide open to fill my story idea with the spirit and the feeling of the place.
I can't wait!
Yesterday, my new en plein air pro traveler easel arrived. It is amazing! My range has extended considerably since it fits into a backpack. Before, I needed to lug around a heavy easel so I never went beyond a 50 yard radius from my car or house. Now, the sky's the limit!
The weather today brought me back to Morris Arboretum, this time to the part called "English Park" for its more open spaces and this fountain built in 1915. The water flows down the central set of steps, creating a unique water flow and giving this fountain the name Step Fountain. A bird happened to fly by as I was setting up my composition, just asking to be included. Can you see him?
Have you ever done yoga? Then you should know about B. K. S. Iyengar, the Indian who is largely responsible for bringing yoga to America. He wrote a book titled Light on Yoga, which inspired me to make a daily practice of yoga over 10 years ago and I'm still going strong most days. Well, it turns out that this sculpture by Robert Engman is an abstract portrait of this very yogi, who gave a presentation at Morris Arboretum the day this sculpture was dedicated in 1978. Three circles and a square interlock in a way that suggests movement and balance. A second casting of this sculpture is at the Hirshorn Museum in Washington, DC.
I'll leave you with memory of today's sunshine... to help you through tomorrow's extreme weather.