April 27, 2013: Today was a spring day. There is a sweet smell outside making a grand entrance for spring after its late arrival this year. My Mom recently purchased and moved into a home. She and her husband are wrapping up the care on the inside of the house and with the promise of warmer weather, have turned their attention outdoors. As we walked the yard, it had begun to rain. It was the most pleasant kind of slow, warm rain that seems to gently awaken the plants and trees from winter. We tried to look past problem areas and squinted just a bit, in effort to imagine how best to work with the backyard, what features to keep and which ones to dispose of. We talked over the best course of action and made some plans. My mom had recently discovered and shared with me that there were other inhabitants that have been calling this place home too. Under a bedroom window, in a tidy little nest, a robin had laid three eggs, blue and perfect. Just the sort of thing that is welcome, but can never be ordered. As we rounded to the backyard a pileated woodpecker appeared, like royalty complete with a bright red crown, taking roost in a large dead tree right on the property line, that abutted to the woods. It was a grand and wonderful sight to see. In honor of that woodpecker I present, Spring with Royalty!
Spring with Royalty, watercolor, One Chickadee, Mary Champagne
Dec. 2, 2012: Today the family and I went for a trail walk. Shortly before the walk my daughter and I were enjoying our new Gray’s Journal. The product of this luxury produced itself when my daughter insisted we ‘stalk’ some deer. We left the trail finding ourselves cross-country looking for scrapes, droppings, and tracks. Finding adequate *sign* of deer, my daughter was satisfied. We saw where rabbits had nibbled the small trees. Then suddenly the silence was broken by the call of a pheasant. We looked up and saw a rooster broadside. It’s wings and tail spread in perfect profile. We watched it flush just over the tallest grasses in the meadow. My husband and I tried to race to where it was to catch another glance, a futile attempt, but fun none the less. Inspired I sketched a pheasant.
Thanksgiving 2012: Today is Thanksgiving and my family and I took a long drive across Michigan to spend the day with my husband’s brother and his family. My silver lining today was the sight of a small group of turkeys on the side of the road during ride. They didn’t look stately crossing the road. There were no big toms. But they were fit, brown and gray, perfectly representing November. Flocked up as they were, maybe they are the grown siblings from spring’s newness, a family together on Thanksgiving.
Nov. 18, 2012: My daughter, Elaine, and I went out for a hike, but just before we left I was inspired with poetry and I had to write it down quick before it was gone from my mind. I thought I might share it here, but well never mind.
Nov. 17, 2012: I found myself in the woods today. The temperature was unusually high in the fifties for the month of November. With the sun out, we could not bear to be inside. My family and I ended a drive in the country at the cross-country trials at Delta College. Shortly after entering the woods I caught the grand wings of a very large bird. When I turned my head, I saw a barn owl alight on the branch a hardwood, empty of leaves and back lite by the southerly sun. How exciting it was to see the hunter out. With the weather being as it is, the little animals must also be on the move and the owl was taking advantage of the situation with an early afternoon hunt. It was a grand site and rather than further disturb it we returned our attention to the trail. We spotted a great red tailed hawk, which had made its perch beside a recently harvested cornfield. No mice or small furry things are safe for a leisurely stroll, like that we took today.
Nov. 6, 2012: I went out with my daughter today. We simply needed a day out. She has been recovering from a recent procedure and everything in our lives has been put on pause while we were taking care of her health. It felt like the fun had been put on pause too, so we took an evening out. She and I went to the Antic Warehouse where they have many fun furnishings, and antic wares that can consume hours and entertain our imaginations for days. Together we made a few selections, old hand pieced quilt blocks, a child’s mini muffin tin, and an American gold finch wall sconce, a treasure that we found at the end of our looksee. Upon careful examination it had a couple of chips, but for the last chance clearance pile, it was a treasure to behold. Not asking a premium, we have brought it home and will think on warmer days when the gold finches will return.
While watching the election unfold I was filled with the excitement that I think many Americans feel as the democratic process is put into action. Beer in hand, I watched the states on the television light up blue and red. After a couple of hours and feeling spent from the drama that was unfolding, I turned my attention to sketching. I call it, bird and a bee.
bird and a bee, one chickadee, Mary Champagne
Nov. 4, 2012: Today my husband, daughter and I made a stop to Gander Mountain. This is a weekly field trip as my husband insists that we collect the weekly ad. It is just down the road, so we pile in the car and make the effort to entertain ourselves while there. Today’s visit entailed a thorough examination of various folding chairs. At some point, I decided I must look at the outdoor magazines. We had headed over to the magazine rack and found some waterfowl monthly mags. For the most part, the magazines didn’t have many pictures; not so useful to a child who can’t read. But her interest was perked. She saw the various hunting tools and pictures of people hunting and her attention was drawn. I finally found and settled on Gray’s Outdoor Journal. I cracked it open, found short stories that were worthy of being called literature, pictures and works of art, and some poetry. A love of the outdoors in such a carefully put together magazine felt like a gem among the advertisement ridden magazines that in the end seemed strictly written for one type of hunter.
That afternoon, my daughter and I began reading ‘Waiting on Ducks’ by Gordon Neal. She loved how in the story the main character, who was referred to as ‘he’, would lay out his clothes in anticipation for the next day’s hunt. She instantly felt akin to the excitement that he felt. The story was about a twenty something man who was going through a break up. He used the ritual of the hunt to find himself again. While I think most of us aren’t twenty something year old dudes, I think we can all relate to having to rebuild ourselves and finding comfort in the rhythm of real life. Real life for the hunter in the story is a duck hunt. It is an awesome story and is brought to an excellent conclusion. I later finished the story and I now know the mag rack at Gander Mountain is awesome!