Global warming is upon us. This was the scene on October 7th, 2012 at Finley National Wildlife Refuge. It takes 15 minutes to drive there from home – reality doesn’t get any closer than that. This was the large reservoir at the refuge, where for 20 years we have come in October to hear my Goose Choir, to hear the ducks gabble, to watch elk roll in the mud, to see the water circles of rising fish mirror the sky circles of eagles hunting above. There were no birds, not a one, only the smell of decay, and this evidence of the carp that inhabited the water. “Not a big loss,” commented an acquaintance about the carp. But what of the other aquatic creatures, the minute organisms that geese and ducks eat?
Sure, it could be just a peculiar rainfall year . No way to know what next year will bring. Maybe as I write this today’s rain has replenished most of the water. Maybe not. Even so, it was sobering, saddening. Is this the future of my church of nature? Please, no.
I had fun doing this piece to submit for the Fall Festival poster competition. I got to use some of the new techniques I experimented with over the last year on my travels, and it’s pretty far afield from my usual style(s). I didn’t make the final six, but if you go here you’ll see why – there are some incredible talents in this region! (And when you click the link, you’ll be able to vote for your favorite, which enters you to win a T-shirt with the winning art on it.) One of the most difficult parts of calling myself an Artist (note capital A) is that I have to risk rejection daily, hourly, weekly, constantly… if you don’t put yourself out there, you don’t grow, and, well – it’s been said before: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” My personal revision of that is , “What’s the worst that can happen? I can spend several hours or days enjoying the creative process, and I wind up adding another image to my body of work, another style to my repertoire.” It’s important to remember that it is your work being judged, not you, and it’s often rewarding to see who you are being compared to. My son just recommended a very short video to me, Ira Glass talking about the creative process – it’s well worth the two minutes.
Mistletoe at Finley, mixed media, by Kerry McFall
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.
Lucifer guards the pond at Starker Arts Park in Corvallis. I see this fabulous specimen of an African Goose almost daily as I walk during my morning break, some days floating with all sails unfurled like this, other days attacking humans who have the audacity to wave their arms and talk loudly (mostly women) as they walk around the pond. Lucifer cuts a wide swath among the resident mallards and widgeons that spend the winters in the pond and nearby wetlands. He showed up a couple of years ago, and has been in charge ever since.
My Google research told me that he/she is an African goose, a breed which isn’t from Africa at all but rather from China, so go figure… The huge bulbous beak and under-the-throat “dew flap” are comical, (unless he is chasing you,) and seem to have no apparent reason for being. The mystery is whether Lucifer is a he or a Lucy. The best Google had to offer about how to tell gender was essentially to catch the goose, turn it upside down, and take a peek inside… I think Lucy/Lucifer would take exception to this investigative technique, and I’ll bet he/she weighs in at over 25 pounds. So that will remain a mystery, and for now I am content to watch as Lucifer maintains order in the park and honks commands to the three white Indian Runner ducks for which he seems to feel responsible.
The original photo for this sketch popped up in one of those Facebook “here’s a random photo from someone else’s album” spots the other day. I think Aaron or Ali took it when Corey was visiting Ireland a couple of years ago – photo credit goes to them! It’s an amazing composition, I didn’t really do it justice, but this is a “Daily” after all, and the point of Dailies is to simply get ‘er done!