What Comes to Mind at the River

Reading and then meeting Kyo MacLear affirmed, for me, everything that’s been formulating inside me the past several years…about birding, art, nature and life.  Many things have formed me into this person who shows up at the Bow River around 10 on a winter’s morning, taking pause above the river and observing wildlife.

My friends and family wonder and ask…mostly not asking anymore, “What are you painting?  Why don’t you paint?”  and at those questions, I can only sit with who I am and be grateful for the grace of anything and everything that led me to this place where I find myself.  As I drove up from the parking spot this morning, I just kept saying, aloud, “I love my life. I love my life.”

I will paint again.  But, the truth is…painting was a lot about ego.  It was a lot about around-the-clock commitment.  It was about trying to balance full time work, raising children and keeping it all together.  My stomach sometimes hurt as deadlines for shows approached.  I was terrified in front of blank canvases.  I couldn’t assert myself with dealers, set boundaries or say what I needed.  I didn’t have money to buy those outfits that seem to be required if you are an artist, especially a female artist. Painting had lost its magic and so, when I paint again, it will be profound because it will be for all the right reasons, not for all the wrong reasons.

Doris McCarthy said, “Paint every day.”  I think more about her as days go by, without painting, than anyone.  She explained how those muscles work.  She explained how time also rushes by. Doris was my friend and she gave me a lot of strength. I think about Doris when I know that I will physically paint again.

Now…did the painting really stop?  I argue, “No”.  I have been intensely researching my next body of work for years now…having painted about 15 panels related to a Covenant series, I then began to connect again with the landscape.  It just happened.  It happened at the reading of two poems, the first,  The Wolf Between the Trees by George Bowering.  I used his poem, with permission, embedded in the poem along with a cup full of ash…remains of personal papers I had burned in the studio.  This is the painting…

Wolf

 

and secondly, a tribute poem written by Paulette Dube for the Caribou.  I’m including her words, here.  I hope you will read them.

In the new days, magic was on the surface of things, the shine of it all, quick and bright and fast as new rivers.

 Now Rivers winds Under Earth, has to be convinced, to play her deep song, entreated , to show herself.

 The Celts call these « thin places », where the other side is so close, the veil shivers your arms as you reach through.

 The First People travelled (sic) these sacred pieces of earth, to think on things in the presence of Creator.

 I know them as mountains.  I see them with my spirit eyes, walk them with blood and bone legs.  They teach, as clear as bird song or scolding squirrel lesson, bracing as clean water through moss.

 This alpine terrain is grey onion paper, thin as ash.  Feet must be wide to avoid lace-like flower and moss, spider web and lichen.        Be mindful.

 The Creator’s ear is earth as we do not see it.  Make joyous noise if you want to be herd.  Get yourself a song and string from bone to bone, a home of light and wind.

 She moves.  She feels her calf, inside, taking nourishment from her own bones and teeth.  The calf moves (as my son once did)  deep in the dreaming place.  The cow’s thickening body keeps the Small one warm, keeps him from hunger, keeps her     moving.

 Born where the dark forest gives way to lake, loon’s perfect call – silver sharp tremolo – traces the surface of this morning sky :  clear as mountain water scythes the earth.

 Loon calls from the lake face, that voice – shapes my form-    coming through the trees.

 The land reacts to our presence when we belong

 Noise of a sow grizzly and her two cubs.  To each a place, to each, a means of prayer and play.  To each, the necessary silence.

 Sacred whorl of grey and brown, blow open the gate.  Allow a wild glimpse of self.

 When you descend to leaf litter, feathered legs and all, you are an angel – touching Earth.

 The engine that is me, hears the song that is you…

 …coming together is a song I cannot bear for long.  Satiated by my own irregular rythmes.

 Promises shape who we are, what we will become –

we pray.

 His brow is unfurrowed.  Streamlined, he walks the wind, easily.

 Healing is water over stones, wind over grass, gaits – fearless.

Feral hearts wander – oblivious to fences of human design.

 Survival embodies existence but – does not define it.

 He moves through sunlight to scrub, deliberate – elemental – muscle.

 Hummingbird hears colour – Coyote knows crack in a leaf is direction – Bear walks trail made of wind.

 If Humans could once again divine the essential – would we find home ?

 A candle in a church is a thing of beauty – a flame in the wilderness is a miracle.

 Find something big to pit against – to throw loneliness into –  Amid bone, snow and stone –   caribou.  The precious, the delicate of design – we live here.

 Fire and earth – water and air – there is no room for anger.

 Memories permit us to speak of things –

our heart tends to in the night.

The resulting painting, upon hearing this poem is posted below.  The words to the poem are written into the painting.  It was at this punctuation mark in my life, at this painting and the other, that I realized my painting would always be about ‘place’.

Caribou 3

So, as an artist, what I’ve been doing ever since is sorting that out….the surface, the paint, collage, text, subject matter.  It might take a lifetime to make sense of it.  I don’t know.  But, in the meantime, I am energized and interested and creative and LOOK!  I write!

Everything I’ve been doing, in the sorting,  has made for this wondrous life of mine.  It’s taken me out into the landscape.  It’s caused me to notice more.  It’s manufactured poems, paintings, photographs and connected me with videographer, Liam of Beam Media and the photographer,  Jack Breakfast.

And this morning, I met Doug Newman.  It was after two cups of coffee at home and after two posts about books that I have read that I headed out into the cold with Max man.  The roads were bad, so I decided to get us down to a parking lot that edges the Bow River and to explore the first wintry day on the river.  There was only one other car in the lot…a man speaking on his telephone.  Max and I headed out.

This is what I wrote once back inside the car…and after snapping four photos on my cell phone…and after turning up the heat and settling in with CKUA.

I didn’t bring a camera with me, but hiked the edge of the Bow River this morning. I watched a Bald Eagle fish, its wings, so powerful. Three times, it landed on tree tops to the left of me, by 200 meters. The geese, exhausted and resting, lifted off of the dark water, along with the cacophony of gulls each time the eagle dove toward the water. Two deer swam, gracefully, from this side and shook off like wet dogs, once arriving on the shore across from me. A perfect morning.

From an interview with Kyo MacLear, writer of Birds, Art, Life… this…

Q: In the book there’s a list, the “Pantheon of Smallness,” in which you compare items such as blackbirds and Rembrandt’s etching. Equating the arts with nature was deliberate, no?

A: It was. It was also a bit playful. I wanted the readers to come in and fill in their own ideas. The Pantheon of Smallness was a way of thinking about smallness differently. Sometimes we make small things, sometimes there are small bird songs, but it can have an enormous impact. Sometimes you have to whisper to be heard. Our culture is very much one of “bigging it up,” always upping the noise level in order to produce a louder signal. What you see in the bird world is sometimes that the smallest tweet can actually pierce through the cacophony in a different way. That became a metaphor for thinking about art. Emily Dickinson did quite miniature work that had a very profound, almost epic, impact, culturally speaking.

DSC_0267

 

While typing that paragraph, I saw the gentleman leave his car, carrying a camera and sporting a huge lens.  I watched, discreetly, as he took photographs.  I saw him pan as geese took flight.  I saw him quietly observe for quite a long time.  Finally, as he turned to get back into his vehicle, I rolled down my window and we began to chat.

It turns out that Doug also posts photographs to Alberta Birds.  We introduced ourselves to one another and I began to ask him questions about photography, equipment and we shared some of our ‘bird’ moments.  It is such a pleasure to discover another birder along the quiet pathways of my every day.  It was nice to experience his enthusiasm and his excitement.  He opened up his photograph of a goose taking flight and I was in awe of the detail and the strength captured in that single image.

I love my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Show Grade Twos a Nest, And They’ll Draw It!

Teachers, when you have that short bit of time to observe a Live Eagle Cam with your class, log into one of these two spots and have your students make observations, write about the eagle behaviours, draw them, paint them…it’s so beautiful to watch!

Either today or tomorrow or the day after that, the eggs should hatch at Duke Farms.

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/eagle-cam

OR

Decorah…at…

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/eagle-cam

The weather today has been quite lovely at Duke Farms in Virginia.

Eagle March 23, 2016

Horrible weather…sleet…rain…slush and wind in Decorah.

Rain and Snow on Decorah

Grade twos made amazing observations of the eagles, rubbing off their chalk every time Mom changed her posture in the nest and began to sketch again.  After the sketching practice, the students added their colour with different media.

Thank you for your class, Elisa!

And Then There Was One!

The female eaglet, #1, has left the nest.  She’s done a couple of flybys at the Duke Farm’s eagle nest and parents have been diligent about continuing to bring food to the nest, but our little guy, #2, is looking lonely.  I first discovered #1 was going into the realm of fledging on Thursday at lunch.  I had a preparation period and saw this all on my own.  I actually had a tear because of the wonderful memories the grade threes and I have shared, watching the adults birth, hatch and raise their two young ones.

February 2015 Two Eggs

February 2015 Two Eggs

Here they are on April 19th.

Here they are on April 19th.

#2 eaglet Duke Farms June 13

This was the nest yesterday on June 13, 2015.

The student observations have been so beautiful, I’ve taken a selection of photos of some of their illustrations and recorded observations.  These warm my heart…absolutely precious.

Hmmm…as I’ve been downloading the student observations, little lady has been back to the nest to feast on a fish that her mama just brought.  Presently, she and her sibling are cuddling on a branch and clicking their beaks together.  The biologists have indicated that she’s been doing a lot of flying today and might just hang out at the nest for the time being.June 13 dukes reunion June 13 Visit with sister June 13 2015 siblings eaglesNow, for the student observations…read their entries…they are beautiful.

DSC_4159

DSC_4158

DSC_4157

DSC_4156

DSC_4155

DSC_4154

DSC_4153

DSC_4152

DSC_4151

DSC_4150

DSC_4149

DSC_4148

DSC_4147

DSC_4146

DSC_4145

DSC_4144

DSC_4143

DSC_4142

DSC_4141

DSC_4140

DSC_4139

DSC_4138

DSC_4137

DSC_4161 DSC_4162 DSC_4163 DSC_4164 DSC_4165 DSC_4166 DSC_4167 DSC_4168 DSC_4169 DSC_4170 DSC_4171 DSC_4172At the Decorah Nest, their #1 of three fledged today!  WHOOT!

Threes!

I haven’t written many blog posts lately!  I’m very busy teaching a four month grade three contract these days.  I began the last week of February.  I really enjoy my students, but we are super busy!  Each student, taking on an altar ego and the mantle of a super hero means that school is a very busy place.  When not a super hero, then there are always the roles of mathematician, engineer and wildlife biologist to fulfill!  It’s a busy life we live.

As a result of all of the ‘busy’, my body flops onto the red sofa shortly after dinner and sometimes I even nod off.  I just can’t even believe what heroes teachers are to take on such a huge part in children’s lives.  Since retirement, I think I’ve become one of the most outspoken advocates of teachers I know.  It’s one thing to support teachers in theory; it’s another to know and understand what they are living each and every day.

In the morning we have quiet focus time on the mat…I log onto Duke Farm’s Live Eagle Cam, much as I did during my grade one contract a couple of years ago.  I made up a booklet that was grade specific, using the content provided for a higher level study.  Duke Farms provides a wealth of information.  This year we have two eggs on the nest and the weather has been brutal in the east.  We have some sad moments as we observe female or male sitting until their own bodies are absolutely covered by snow.  I think I captured a screen shot one day…yes…here’s the nest on March 1 and that snow crept up a few times so that only the adult’s beak was exposed.  The children seem to be enjoying observing life on the nest and I am holding out hope that the eggs will successfully hatch over the coming week.  Here are the blog posts directly from Duke Farms.

March 1, 2015 Duke's FarmsI have a few photos of my little nest, but it hardly captures the intensity of the space when the children enter and begin swirling through their day.  There is never a pause.  There is so much to learn.

In the morning, each morning, for just about ten minutes, I read aloud from the BFG by Roald Dahl.  When I asked my adult daughter what she remembered about grade three, she told me that she remembered Roald Dahl and all of the wonderful books that he wrote.  And so, just for wind down time, the children and I are sharing those words.

The BFG makes us laugh…and he shares some very intelligent, however nonsensical, words.

quote-dreams-is-very-mystical-things-the-bfg-said-human-beans-is-not-understanding-them-at-all-not-roald-dahl-222445DSC_3020 DSC_3019Books for inventions and schematics of every kind…this week…a dream making machine.  INVENTORS! DSC_3014

DSC_3015 ??????????

Each pod of desks is a city in India (Mumbai and New Delhi) or the Ukraine (Kiev and Odessa) or Peru (Lima) or Tunisia (Tunis).  The students are just getting their pavilions researched and constructed.  This makes it very easy for calling up a rep from each city to pick up things or deliver things to their group.  They share responsibilities and connect it to their place in the world.  Sorry for the out-of-focus photo…will try to get a better archive.  Most of the art has been collaborative to this point.  This Klimt tree will be evolving over the seasons.  A place to publish descriptive words and elaborative detail.

DSC_3013 DSC_3012 DSC_3004Students collect bling for all sorts of everything and post them on their plain-jane brown paper wrap Super Three frames.  By end of year, these will be the most highly decorated frames in existence. The students are wildly motivated.

DSC_3011 DSC_3010

DSC_3009 DSC_3007 DSC_3006 My brother and father both sent explanations of their military medals and ribbons so that I could share with the students what an honour it is to be decorated. I showed these to my students and explained what a sense of pride is felt with such achievements.  They were very excited about the possibility, as Super Threes, of receiving such as these. While having gold star days are an every day occurrence, receiving a ribbon is more special and rare.  I’ve got a huge stash of them and jot down the reason for each ribbon presentation on my note cards.  The children have to then share with me what they are going to do to earn the next.  Again, every child receives recognition and praise.

Dad's Medals DSC_2642Our class medals and ribbons.??????????Our gathering place.

DSC_3002We keep many different publications going…books of THREE (a place to look at why Three is such a powerful number), WHEN-THEN books When__________ (teacher provides an action) Then___________(what action results, giving students opportunities to explore how choices and results connect) and Save the Day booklets (students explore how they want to use their super powers for good).

DSC_3034?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? DSC_3027The students are engineers. After the students tested for stability in a large, medium and short cylinder, they had opportunity to explore how to increase stability.  Whoosh!  They are some sort of inventors.  At the end of the frenzy, they decided that the base of a structure should be wider and heavier and include some sort of connecting material in order to be more stable. :0)

DSC_2974 ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? DSC_2985 DSC_2984 DSC_2983Thanks to all of you peeps who have supported me and shared your wisdom.  You know who you are!  And, no, you won’t be seeing many updates!  Now, “Come, MAX!  Let’s go!”

 

For the Birds

Once the shoveling was done and Max taken care of, I put on a fresh pot of coffee, filled the bird feeders and sat down to watch the magic.  One of my favourite things to do is to sit and enjoy nature while eating something…anything…like an apple or a piece of cheese or blueberries OR drinking something…like red wine or coffee or water. The taste buds are heightened outdoors and it is magical.

It wasn’t long and the word was out…likely a hundred sparrows landed at the back yard feeder.  Surprisingly, they don’t tolerate my presence as well now that it’s cold, but the little darlings came and went and came and went while I sipped my steaming hot cup of coffee.  At the front, the ‘three pilgrims’ were pecking underneath the feeder.  People have told me to chase pigeons from the feeders…well, this family has been visiting my feeders ever since the spring as the grey fledgling was struggling to find his clumsy way.  When something is struggling so hard to make sense of the world, how can you not appreciate the natural selection of things?  It’s hard to reject any being in nature when so much is against them.

Every now and then when they get greedy, I chase them away, shaking a kitchen towel at them.  Sometimes I wonder where they roost and why a zillion of their friends don’t join them.  So far-so good.

Cold weather brings different friends and enemies to the bird feeders.  Just recently, I’m seeing more chickadees, jays and northern flickers and a few days ago, I saw my first woodpecker of the season.

??????????DSC_1424

Do you remember when I was posting about Duke’s Farm’s eagle cam?  I watch them routinely in the spring.  This past season, I watched intently as there were three eggs that hatched.  The grade ones that I was teaching at the time recorded notes about the three hatchlings each morning after prayer and O’ Canada.

P1160181Eagles April 18 2014 Well, some time shortly after I left that contract, the eagle cam went down.  As a result, I didn’t see the three youngsters fledge, but the monitors of the activities at the nest and the biologists making observations, left notes that assumed that they had fledged successfully after a very positive banding.  Well, sad news to report recently and I’ll copy the notes right from the Duke Farm’s Eagle Cam site.

11/25/2014
The camera is now running. The cam may go down temporarily as we clean up cable splices buried in the ground and prep the lines for winter.

11/25/2014
Today the eagle camera is scheduled to be placed back in the tree and coaxial cable will be reconnected to conduct tests. Along with corrosion issues the camera and cable also appeared to suffer some damage from a surge or loose connection that melted an internal component.

10/20/2014
We have pulled down the eagle camera and found out the main issue currently appears to be a corroded connector. We will be cleaning/replacing the connectors and run tests and hopefully have the camera up soon again.

8/25/14
We are sad to announce news that one of our eaglets from this year’s nest was found dead at Sebago Lake, Maine after a fight with an adult eagle that was guarding a nest; From Conserve Wildlife NJ biologists discussions with biologists and observers in Maine;

“On July 27th the juvenile male, D-98, was found dead by residents of Little Sebago Lake, Maine. He was one of the three Duke Farms chicks banded on May 14, 2014 and assumed fledged in Mid-June.

Residents of the lake which is NW of Portland, reported seeing him near an active eagle nest located on the lake. The nest had chicks which fledged in early July. On July 25th residents reported seeing a juvenile with a green band sitting in a tree near a boat house;
“The youngster had been in a small tree next to our boat house for quite a long time when an adult, carrying a fish, swooped in over the folks sunning on the beach and attacked the young bird. It dropped the fish in the process. The adult flew off leaving the fish and the juvenile behind. Thanks to a cell phone photo, we know that the youngster had the band colors of the later retrieved juvenile”.

While we don’t know for certain we can assume that the juvenile’s death was in some part due to injuries that occurred when it was attacked by the adult. The mortality rate for first year eagles is fairly high as they are still learning to hunt and fly. It is very unusual to receive this much information on the details surrounding an eagles death.”

While it is very sad news, such is the remarkable and frightening circumstance of life itself. I highly recommend that you join me this spring in observing the two majestic parents that will make a home of this same nest, regardless of the loss or successes of previous years.  It is through vulnerability and struggle that we find our way.  We have much to learn from watching birds.  Lately I am feeling, more than ever, that it is essential that we slow down and make observations of the world that surrounds us.  We must listen to the stories that nature is telling us.

Our Three Eaglets

Given our daily morning visits to Duke Farm’s LIVE EAGLE CAM, the grade ones have been keeping a daily journal of the events at the nest. I’m starting to get nervous.  As soft white-grey down gradually is replaced by dark grey feathers, and soon black feathers, I get concerned that something might happen to one of the juveniles.  In fact, I suppose we’ve been fortunate so far that nothing bad has happened due to a predator’s attack or such as that.  The little guys are starting to beetle around their nest and I have no idea how the adults keep catastrophe from happening in the form of a nose dive to a sad ending.

The students and I have shared a bit about this sort of thing.  I think I said, “Boys and girls, what will happen if something bad happens at the nest?”  One boy responded, “Miss Moors, I’ve seen a couple of rabbits squashed by cars.  I’ll be OK.”

“So what do you think could happen that would be sad on our live cam?”

“Maybe a predator will attack.”

“Maybe a baby will fall out.”

“Maybe something will happen to the Mom or the Dad.”

Smart kids!

Regardless of their promised resilience…I am soon going to end our project and morning viewing.  So far, we’ve seen live fish dropped into the nest…two breakfasts of turtles (the turtle shells still lying vacant in the soft grass of the nest…and today my students noticed a frog’s leg sticking out of one of the eaglet’s beak.  The children have learned that eagles have lots of whitewash in their poop and it very regularly shoots out…the scientists keeping records for the Live Cam call it ‘shot’, not poop.  Good thing to learn!

I considered making a slide show of the following images taken from their journals, but really, they are so very sweet, you may want to pause and read.  Through the eyes and hearts of wee ones!

A recent log from the Duke’s Farm Live Eagle Cam…

Update 4/15/2014
For viewers, please note that as the chicks mature and become more independent in the nest the adult will not be inside the nest bowl as much as they where a week ago (most activity from the adults will either be feeding or sheltering chicks from rain). The adults still stay close to the nest in neighboring trees to keep an eye of the chicks and potential threats.

P1160159 P1160160 P1160161 P1160162 P1160163 P1160164 P1160165 P1160166 P1160167 P1160168 P1160169 P1160172 P1160173 P1160175 P1160176 P1160177 P1160178 P1160179 P1160180 P1160181 P1160182 P1160183 P1160184 P1160185 P1160186 P1160187 P1160188 P1160189 P1160190 P1160191 P1160193 P1160194 P1160195 P1160196 P1160197 P1160198 P1160199 P1160200 P1160201 P1160202 P1160203 P1160205 P1160206 P1160207 P1160208

 

 

Gorilla House LIVE ART: May 29, 2013

P1110093 P1110096

Oh man.  I took up the early-in-the-day challenge presented by visionary, Rich Theroux and painted based on Wendy O. Williams. I departed from the three concepts that arrived on the creative wheel before the battle.   First off, I don’t like Punk/ Metal. Not liking something goes beyond not appreciating it.  I find that Metal and Punk grate on my nerves.  I find that these genres are not ‘musical’, at least not in my mind.  However, I decided that since the Gorilla House always shakes me up artistically for one reason or another, I would take up the challenge.

I watched some of the Plasmatics music on old Youtube videos in the afternoon.  I wondered why Wendy had to wear such provocative clothing.  I wonder the same thing when I see Lady Gaga.  I wonder about the provocateurs, more so, from the female side of things than the male side.  (look, I’m just being honest).  I don’t get why females need to play on their sexuality while male performers seem to play on their strength and their gritty sweat.  I just don’t get how that can equate with being ‘heavy’, as Wendy professes in this interview.

I once bought tickets for Metallica.  My son, daughter and I bought the t-shirts…the hat.  And quite honestly, I was impressed!  I thought that the drumming, in particular, was fantastic.  My first encounter with Metal.

When I thought and read about Wendy O. Williams I could not help but encounter a river of sadness running under the surface of her bravado.

So, the painting.

Recently I’ve had two amazing encounters with bald eagles at the river bottom.  On one of these, I was visiting a place where I used to walk my old boy, Laurie-dog.  I had Max out and had not yet set him off leash, but was heading to the ridge.  Out of nowhere, the swooshing of massive wings…a diving and pitching of a form in front of a perfectly blue sky, seagulls cawing and screeching and speeding toward the target. Then everything came into perspective a mere ten meters above my head.  The eagle was carrying a huge writhing fish in its talons. Its head and tail shimmered a brilliant white.  I could see the wounds on the fish’s body…that’s how close I was.  Up it rose, sending the seagulls in a swoosh of white energy, in multiple directions.  I stood perfectly still, in awe…of strength, beauty, struggle, survival.

The second encounter was quite a bit north on the river, near the irrigation canal and the Bow River Canoe Club.  Less dramatic, but also so overwhelmingly beautiful because of its proximity to me…this time I might have touched the bird had it dipped a tad closer.  The eagle carried a mass of nesting material in its talons…likely a full cubic foot of dried grasses/sticks and such.  I’d never seen anything quite like it.  I focused on its wings, the strength of them, the propulsion of the amazing animal north and away.

In the ending, the painting combined my thoughts on music, power, self expression, evolution, transformation.  I took the eagle of my experience and transformed it into this ‘metal’ beast, a bird that represented anything but the natural forms that I encounter on a personal front at the river.  This piece is a departure for me.  The Gorilla House art battle tends to bring experimentation with materials and subject matter to the forefront.  Thanks to Daniel for your purchase of this piece at auction.

I’m including here, a series of embroidery pieces hung in the recent GH exhibit that represent my concept of transformation/deconstruction as well.

P1110107 P1110106P1110097

Artist Szebo One

Artist Szebo One

Artist Szebo Two

Artist Szebo Two

Artist Szebo Three

Artist Szebo Three

Bird Cloud by Annie Proulx

Bird Cloud 2

Just moments ago, I finished the book, Bird Cloud by Annie Proulx.  This was a memoir that spoke to my heart and I was very much invested in the book from its beginning.  This is NOT the reaction shared by so many critics with literary expertise, in fact, I found it an unusual thing that a review be entirely positive.

I think that the subject matter was appealing to me on many levels.  First, I liked the courage that Proulx modeled as she solicited the help of so many different people in order to build her architectural dream and new home in a very challenging landscape.  Bird Cloud is a location of extreme weather conditions, contributing to a sense of isolation.  Wyoming was such an awesome landscape and Proulx did not disappoint in terms of her description and research of the location.

Next, as so many others have shared, I feel as though I gained tremendous insight into who Annie Proulx is, not simply ‘the writer’, but also someone acutely interested in history and wildlife.  I relished her curiosity and felt excited, even at the countless failures in various steps of construction, whether it be deficiencies in the materials, suppliers and contractors or in the evidence of much after thought.

The book was most colourful as Proulx spoke of the historical relevance of the surrounding land and the nature of the those properties.  I was brought to tears while reading the last two chapters, “…all beaded, all earringed, wing feather bowstring sided…” and “A Year of Birds”.  Powerfully written, one is left with utmost respect for everything that ‘gets us here’.  I feel, not only, enlightened, but challenged to grow in both knowledge and understanding.

Regarding ‘the build’ at Bird Cloud, I felt compelled to shift some furnishings around tonight…think about my personal aesthetic…and in a very understated way, to consider links between beauty and function, new materials and old.  I think that ‘place’ is of utmost importance to all of us.

From page 169 of Bird Cloud, Annie Proulx tells us…

Curly, by David F. Barry, Template:Circa 1876.

Curly, by David F. Barry, Template:Circa 1876.

“Custer’s Crow scout, Curley, a survivor of the Battle of Greasy Grass, spoke in council in 1907 when pressure was on to sell part of the Crow Reservation to outsiders.  He said, ‘The soil you see is not ordinary soil.  It is the dust of the blood of the flesh and bones of our ancestors.  We fought and bled and died to keep other Indians from taking it and fought and bled and died, helping the whites.  You will have to dig through the surface before you can find the earth, as the upper portion is Crow.  The land as it is, is my blood, and my dead: it is consecrated, and I don’t want to give up any portion of it.'”

Source: Frances Carrington, My Army Life and the Fort Phil Kearny Massacre (Denver:Pruett Press, 1990), 314 cited in John D. McDermott, A Guide to the Indian Wars of the West (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998), 2.

I think that this is a thorough review of Bird Cloud and gives background that my response is lacking.  Enjoy!

Listen. Our Objects Speak.

My Grandfather’s Wool Carding Equipment

This morning, Max and I went to one of our favourite off-leash areas in the city… a beautiful ridge area… a long stretch above the  Bow River irrigation canal.  The wind was literally howling today, especially during a walk on such an exposed piece of land.  The tall dry grass was flattened, reaching east and pushing again and again while the wind shouted.  One of the most amusing events was the hovering presence of a immature Bald Eagle for the entire walk.  Most of the time, he/she was directly above me and finally broke downward and captured a field mouse.  From there, a brave raven made a huge effort to intercept the catch.  The two birds flew in tandem, diving and circling and soaring; one defending its prey; the other, not easily discouraged, attempting to steal it.  I was in awe.

Snowflake  Pattern: Cowichan Sweater

When, finally, we returned to the van, I turned to CBC radio.  I enjoy listening to IDEAS in the afternoon and The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers.  In the context of the sorts of things I’ve been thinking about lately, the interview with Sylvia Olsen was so relevant.  What she says about history being linked to civilizing/fusing of cultures is very interesting.  There was a progression from the Salish design being used in weaving to the eventual introduction of needles by Scottish men as a way of civilizing indigenous women.  The Cowichan sweater became a remarkable archive…in fact, as Olsen would say, the sweaters became the stories.  I think that there is an obvious link between the hard work of a people, attention to an aesthetic and careful consideration about function.  The concept of history/story being contained in our objects is evident.  I need to read her book, Working With Wool .  I find that this connects me with my own paternal grandfather’s connection with wool.

The Mule