Love is a Special Way of Feeling

April 20, 2014: Today was Easter. I woke up at five a.m. this morning and stepped outside to a loud chorus of birds just before sunrise. They already knew it was to be a beautiful day and it was. After spending the afternoon with family, my husband and daughter and I returned to the house and worked in the yard. My daughter and I dug into the garden area and made it fresh for a new growing season. Many fat worms were in the soil. It felt like a family day, a loving day and it reminded me of a little passage in a used book I found called, Love is a Special Way of Feeling, by Joan Walsh Anglund, copyrighted 1960. The cover is cloth and simply bound.

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Love is a Special Way of Feeling by: Joan Walsh Anglund

It is such a special little book, with the best illustrations, although the illustrator is not named. The story is simple and communicates one thing, love. It does not affix love to just one person or situation, but quietly reminds us of special moments that warm our hearts and define us for who we are.  My favorite passage is found directly halfway through the book.

from Love is a Special Way of Feeling by Joan Walsh Anglund

from Love is a Special Way of Feeling by Joan Walsh Anglund

                                    Love is found in unexpected places …
                                    It is there in the quiet moment
                                    when we first discover
                                    a beautiful thing …
                                    when we watch a bird
                                    soar high against
                                    a pale blue sky …

Happy Easter! Oh, and I do continue to work on this charcoal. I present The Hungry Bird. It is not done yet, but I will continue to share my progress on it.

The Hungry Bird, done in charcoal, by Mary Champagne

The Hungry Bird, done in charcoal, by Mary Champagne

 

Hope, spring is late in coming

March 15, 2014: It feels like waking up from a long sleep, a sort of hibernation that one does not remember except that now suddenly to be awake.

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I went for a walk today, the first real walk in many months. Feeling my legs, I moved slowly and was overcome by exactly how gray it still is. It seems as though winter may never leave, color may never return and it may always be dark. The air was damp and it had been raining with the temperature was just over freezing. Inside of my jacket I felt protected and ready, the fleece soft and warm and full of color.

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I walked and side stepped puddles. The ground gave way to squishy footholds. It is no longer frozen and for this I am happy. I rounded the corner and put distance between me and the road. I could hear the birds. I saw familiar silhouettes and calls, but none whose name I can remember, it has been so long. It is good to see them return, even if they must bare out such conditions in hopes of spring.

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I rounded the path again, finding the bike trail in good repair. I crossed a foot bridge and watched the water for a moment. The ice was mostly gone. The stream appeared full of life in the flowing current. I thought on the question I was asked earlier today about what it may be like ten years from now. What is the future, if not a projection of the past? Which in this river filled with rain water from the whole of winter, I think on ten years ago. Using that as one point and the present as another, I draw a line and try to see into the future. I try to imagine it, but it is like looking thru a thick fog. Everything is there, but hidden from view.

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I walked up the trail and on my right were a small group of birds around a puddle. Two robins were hopping in parallel. To the casual observer they may look together, traveling the ground searching for food. But in truth they are sizing each other up. One will finally end the charade and move toward the other. They will bristle and one will leave. Spring has begun even if it is a cold one and the competition for life has begun. I look up into the tree and see two silhouetted birds mating. I can see their future so clearly. And I realize the question I had been asked was what I *hoped* it would be like. Going back to my two points, I changed my line to a long curve. Not linear, not here to there. Hope, bending the line with my will.

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I remember traveling on a seasonal road in the U.P. of Michigan. The road went up a great curved mountain, with a drop off on our left. My daughter was asleep in the back and we traveled up the road in our old blue truck. I remember our view in front of us was all sky and behind us nothing was hidden from view. I remember saying it is like we are driving into the sky. As I walked, I thought that is what I hope for, the sky and all the stars and maybe just a little warmer weather, and some sun and the cheep of those little birds that will be here in a month. I hope for them, I hope for me.

An Observant Cardinal

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An Observant Cardinal: in watercolor and charcoal               By: Mary Champagne

January 25, 14: My daughter did not feel well today and in my concern for her, I just could not seem to do any of the things that I was suppose to.  When she had decided I could leave her side, I went to work on some birds. I was inspired to do a pendant. This past week, in the evening just before falling to sleep, I have been reviewing bird images, thinking about just what sort of bird poses and gestures would communicate best on a pendant. (A pleasant task.) I have been excited by the idea of *wearing* a framed delicate bird. Through a process all my own, I used charcoal and watercolors to create the image, then preserved and framed this one. Using up-cycled chains, I created a necklace from which the pendant will hang. I am excited by the results and will wear it this week to check the preserving process, but thus far I am hopeful.

 

 

A Cold and Blustery Day

Jan. 6, 2014: It is a cold and blustery day, in such a way that concerns me and makes me want my family to stay in one place and be safe. It is reported that this cold snap will be gone by the end of the week and this brings a sense of relief. Before our winter storm, we put out seed for the birds, but since it arrival the birds are all staying tight to their shelter.

In staying close to home, my daughter and I have spent a lot of time together. Ordinarily our days are full, something we have no complaint with. It has been nice to have the time to talk about nothing and spend time together without distraction. I like her and like to hear what she has too say. She tells good stories and did an excellent theatrical performance of, “Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late”, authored by Mo Williams.

Without distraction I have managed a couple of hours on this picture. It has been a pleasure to draw and hope it will be done by spring!

A bird’s development on a cold and blustery day. Charcoal on pastel paper, by Mary Champagne

Shortcomings and a Blue Bird’s Beginning

Blue Bird's Beginnings

Blue Bird’s Beginnings in Charcoal

Jan. 1, 2013: It was pointed out to me today that I am not being attentive and why do I interject where I do and when I choose not too. Well, I have no answer and I still don’t have one. Why do the things I do? It is apart of my nature. Can one change their nature? Why change it? Can a person have a bad nature? Of course I am working on this blue bird. This one which will take weeks to complete. It too is my shortcoming and will consume my time. I will pursue this little creature and what it brings to the end. I can not help myself nor it.

A Peculiar Bird with Notable Feet

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A Peculiar Bird with Notable Feet, Pencil and watercolor

Dec. 21, 2013: I went to draw up a sketch of Christmas cardinals and instead worked on a blue footed booby. How these things happen, I don’t know. I took up a large sheet of newspaper and the bird took up more picture than again I intended. My daughter busy with her own drawing, chastised me for not including the blue feet. Thinking myself clever, I drew a pair of feet on the upper left of the page, filling them with blue water color. With self assurance of gratitude, I asked her how she liked the picture now. She said it was fine. I now understand it wasn’t that she wanted to see blue feet, but that they were altogether missing on a bird she was growing attached to on the paper.

After some time had passed, she asked with a  giggle and a twinkle in her eye why we called them blue footed boobies. Not because of her interest in peculiar birds with notable feet, but because she could work in the word booby into general conversation. I explained to her people’s perception of the bird as being not intelligent and clumsy, but is in fact an accomplished hunter of fish. She thinks people can be mean, I agree.

Hemingway’s Sea Swallows

Dec. 17, 2013: After Thanksgivig, on a lazy evening, well after my daughter had gone to bed, I was working on a wood burning in front of the fireplace, a full goblet of wine withing arms reach and my husband lounged on the couch. To ease the silence, but in hopes not to end the peacefulness, I put on ‘ Old Man and the Sea’, an audiobook written m Ernest Hemingway and read by Donald Sutherland. (A reading well portrayed and worth the effort to find.)

As the first disc came to a close, my woodburned picture began to show depth. The evening took on a timeless quality. I reached for a second glass of wine. One passage captured, I believe, on that first disc read…

In the dark the old man could feel the morning coming and as 
he rowed he heard the trembling sound as flying fish left 
the water and the hissing that their stiff set wings made 
as they soared away in the darkness. He was very fond of 
flying fish as they were his principal friends on the ocean. 
He was sorry for the birds, especially the small delicate 
dark terns that were always flying and looking and almost 
never finding, and he thought, the birds have a harder 
life than we do except for the robber birds and the heavy 
strong ones. Why did they make birds so delicate and fine 
as those sea swallows when the ocean can be so cruel? 
She is kind and very beautiful. But she can be so cruel 
and it comes so suddenly and such birds that fly, dipping 
and hunting, with their small sad voices are made 
too delicately for the sea.

Lovely.

Hemingway seems to be communicating the duality of beauty and vastness of the sea, the greatness of the winds, and sun and elements, and the smallness and ultimately helplessness of this sea swallow to them. (Much like the beauty and cruelty of life.) And as genteel as this sentiment is, I want to defend this sea swallow. This creature making its existence near and on the expanse. Frailty I think not. But then again, I don’t think Hemingway meant for this paragraph to inform us about sea swallows. How one interprets this passage probably speaks more about the reader and less about the swallows.

Tamerlane

Nov. 26, 2013: The bare ground is giving way to snow. Our lives are changing and slowing down as the landscape freezes into place. During the gray days of fall, before the snow came and illuminated our lives, I was reminded of Edgar Allen Poe’s writing. He seemed to completely understand darkness and ruminating. Just how I feel in fall, as the days shorten, the skies cloud over and the air feels damp. Below are some passages from his poetry.

....A route obscured and lonely
 Haunted by ill angles only.
               from Dreamland

...This land of Eldorado?"
 Over the mountains
 of the Moon,
 Down the Valley of Shadow.
                from Eldorado

...Deep into that darkness peering, 
        long stood there wondering, fearing,
 Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever 
        dared to dream before;
 But the silence was unbroken, 
        and the stillness gave no token.
                from the Raven


In watercolor on newspaper by Mary Champagne

Tamerlane Tree
watercolor on newspaper
by Mary Champagne

 
A folded song bird.

A folded song bird.

October 10, 2013: Post first written: October 1, 2013: I noticed today the song birds have left on their migrations. I have not seen a humming bird in a couple of weeks, the gold finches are no longer at my feeder. I can spot flocks of black birds and starlings. In tribute to the colorful song birds that are traveling south, I have folded a little paper bird and made us a little poem to enjoy in their absence.

Origami song bird by Mary Champagne

A little paper bird for you and shared with love from me,
It was folded up one summer day under a graceful swaying tree,
It called to me from a longing of loveliness 
           and realized itself right here,
Its only purpose to bring thoughts on song birds, for you and me.

Contemplating the Bad Lands and Humming Birds

Contemplating the Bad Lands and Humming Birds

September 28, 2013: Post first written: August 26, 2013: I like quiet time to contemplate ideas and put things into some sort of order. But, even after quiet thought, the thrill of discovery still blows my mind. For instance, the grandeur of the Bad Lands in South Dakota. I know it is made up of unconsolidated/loose earth that was laid down and through processes of erosion, make up the beautiful and almost unnatural landscape I saw a couple of years ago. They are impressive in such a way that is absolutely amazing. And to experience them is made even more precious with the knowledge that they will someday be gone, completely eroded away. We get a glimpse into the past while enjoying the absolute present.

Badlands in South Dakota

Badlands in South Dakota, I took this picture about three years ago while traveling through South Dakota during the winter.

It is at just such formations we have learned more about our former earth partners, the dinosaurs. Reminding us we weren’t the first to trod here. With life being finite, time seems limitless to such creature as myself.

But even with knowing all this there is a large gap in my understanding of things were. There is more than one thought that birds have evolved from dinosaurs. What that means, I don’t know, but I like to think what that might mean. Just such thoughts had occurred to me, when I was reading a book of poetry that my friend Becky had sent to me through the mail. “On Wings of Song, poems about birds”. Various poets are featured in the book, but one poem in particular by D. H. Lawrence got me thinking.

 
I can imagine, in some otherworld
Primeval-dumb, far back
In that most awful stillness, that only gasped
and hummed,
Humming-birds raced down the avenues.

Before anything had a soul,
While life was a heave of Matter, half inanimate,
This little bit chipped off in brilliance
And went whizzing through the slow, vast,
                succulent stems.

I believe there were no flowers then,
In the world where the humming-bird flashed
ahead of creation.
I believe he pierced the slow vegetable veins with
                His long beak.

Probably he was big
As mosses, and little lizards, they say were once big.
Probably he was a jabbing, terrifying monster.

We look at him through the wrong end of the long
telescope of Time,
Luckily for us.

D. H. Lawrence

Unlike the musings in the poem, the humming bird in life is not a formidable creature. Small in size and hardly a threat. The poem sets us up for some fancy and wonder, separating ourselves from the here and now. Perhaps it is possible to have such a world where it is possible to have such a hummer? How impressive it would be. I like how the poem is filled with wonder and yet grounded in how we all have our place and time.

Thanks for the book Becky! It is a great read! It was very kind of you to share it with me.

Well after talking about humming birds here is a picture of a humming bird. It is of the everyday variety! It was a quick, late night painting so please be kind. 🙂

by Mary Champagne

Timeless Humming Bird, painted in water color by Mary Champagne