Much-maligned, nutritious, and gorgeous, the weeds are beginning to smile up from the soggy lawns in Corvallis. Dandelions are the brightest: petals like a yellow mane, toothy points on the leaves, and I love that little cushion right in the middle of the blossom. I spent many hours dissecting dandelions as a little girl, sitting cross-legged on my grandmother’s lawn caught up in the sweet scent, amazed by the “milk” that appeared on the stems after picking… and the minute my mother saw my sticky hands, I spent many minutes scrubbing away the dandelion goo. Simple pleasures.
The heavy snows last week brought a good-size limb hurtling into the back yard from the neighbor’s giant fir. When I went to see the damage, I had to pull the sharp end out of the mushy ground, where it looked like it had been driven in by a pile driver… yikes. The moral: don’t stand under trees during heavy snowfall.
I counted at least five different types of lichen, and one type of moss, growing on the limb. Such gorgeous colors when you look closely! And serendipity had a hand in the palette because I had just found my new favorite color among the colored pencils in the OSU Bookstore art department on the same day: Pale Sage by Prismacolor. Perfect!
Interested in a print, or an embellished fabric print? Buy Now!
Obviously, winter had one last blast to blow at us, which is very strange for March in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. But Snow Days are always a good time to slow down, and this one gave me a chance to add a Buy Now page to my website – if you’d like a print of any sketches, you can pay with PayPal – check it out. Coming soon – an Etsy site with my sketches on greeting cards, and mixed-media paintings for sale!
Working at Muddy Creek school over the last couple of weeks gave me the opportunity to take the long way home via Finley Wildlife Refuge several times. And the sun was shining – whoa!
Finley is my “church”, a place for quiet meditation, contemplation, rejoicing in nature even in the barest months of winter. Huge flocks of geese rise as one with no prelude, and give voice like no other choir. The oaks are the altars, the firs are the spires pointing to heaven. The elk slip in and out of the thickets and meadows, the spirits of the ancestors. Quiet pools mirror the sky in the marshes. Bald eagles drift through now and then to remind me that there could be angels… but then just for the hell of it they buzz down over the resting geese and send them thundering skyward again. And it turns out that even the humble mistletoe has a place in ancient myth and religious symbology, at least according to Google. Beautiful. My humble and sincere thanks to everyone who had a part in preserving this sacred place in the Willamette Valley.
The OSU Sheep Barns are literally a five minute drive up the hill from downtown Corvallis, so I’m not sure why it’s been at least 10 years since we ventured up there. But the spirit moved us this weekend, so we treated ourselves to watching the wonders and terrors of nature at work.
The layout is a little different than it was years back – fences keep you way back, and there are lots of signs about germ transmission, and hand-washing stations… but the smell of sheep poop still pervades the cold damp air, and there’s plenty of bleating and baaing. The lambing season is upon us, so it’s a popular outing for families with small children. I’m convinced that lambs receive random signals from outer space which send them leaping and jumping for no apparent reason, surprising even themselves from the look of it. “Gamboling” is just the perfect word for that. The mother sheep look a bit dazed, but the shape of their mouths makes it look like they are smiling!
The pregnant ewes, some of them literally wider than they are high, even seem to smile… maybe they spike their hay up there, because it sure looks miserable to me. Ah, sweet mystery of life – what a convoluted process, this birthing and dying!
Many thanks to Schmidt’s Garden Center for granting me permission to work from their photographs! This little seed-cruncher was featured in their most recent online newsletter, and I fell in love with the patterns in his feathers. Their newsletter always has bright photos and interesting discussion, a pleasant break from a world full of less uplifting news.
I’ve always wondered about who decided to call this bird a Purple Finch. In my opinion, it’s not purple at all. It’s pink. There might be a few purple shadows, but this guy is definitely pink – and yes, I did get carried away just a little with the color intensity, but I’m not striving for reality, just that zing I always get when a flash of color flies past. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology web site says, “The Purple Finch is the bird that Roger Tory Peterson famously described as a “sparrow dipped in raspberry juice.” ” Right on!
My up-the-street neighbor’s sidewalk border is a gorgeous mish-mash of last autumn’s brown leaves, a stump covered with fungus, and deep purply-red helleborus orientalis. At least I think that’s what it is – unlike the few crocus in my own border, it is not shyly peeking out with the baby slugs. It’s just Out There, waving in the wind, defying the spring snows, clearly saying, “Here I am if you’re looking for spring!” Thank goodness, we’re all ready for some color!
I’ve been heads down busy with a school artist in residence quilt project, finishing the last of my Call and Response pieces for the “unveiling” coming up on Sunday, trying to keep up with the Art Journal class I was taking from Lauren Ohlgren, and of course, work. So it was nice for a few hours this afternoon to put it all aside and simply sit at the dining table and sketch and paint. I didn’t even notice that Sparky had jumped on the table and was lapping up the lavender-tinted water where I cleaned my brushes… goofy cat. I guess she’s ready for some color, too!