A Drabble on Valor

May 31, 2013: One Chickadee, I have been cheating on you. I have not been posting here, but elsewhere on the internet, completely neglecting you. I am sorry. I know that this arises because I become uneasy and self-conscious. I am anonymous elsewhere on the web and I have been using this to shelter myself from possible rejection. But then what is the point. The art, writing, creativity will not improve and will be lost to obscurity. So reaffirming my commitment to One Chickadee, I will share what I have been up to this last week in a couple of posts.

The Mad Art Lab was having a drabble contest. The topic was valor. I had posted it there, a late entry as I was wrong on the deadline, but I posted it there none the less. I present a drabble on Valor.

Valor: A Drabble by Mary Champagne

She lay writhing in the grass, her body grossly deformed, her 
determination absolute. She could hear the soft approach of 
nearly silent footsteps. Her heart drummed in anticipation, 
confident her enemy had followed her. Sensing the end, she 
twisted her head up to see the shielding distance between 
them close. Her enemy was ferocious and hungry for survival.
In one swift motion she righted herself, spread her wings
and took flight. She made a large, sweeping circle and 
returned to her nest. Her young were safe, beaks open awaiting
her return. She took to the wing to hunt their breakfast.

The heroine in the story is a female killdeer. They are known for lying in the grass, maybe flopping around, with a wing twisted out in the hope to appear injured to a predator leading it away from the nest. When the predator is lured away the killdeer will fly up and out from harm. This selfless bird behavior helps me to define valor.

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Two Butterflies help bring meaning on Memorial Day

May 27, 2013: Memorial Day weekend is coming to an end and is a contemplative time for me which I shall share here. I was in the Iraq War and much of it was survival, following orders, long periods of boredom, death, terror, friendship, hope for the future, determination, and at times maddening. There was the kind of sweating that made your clothes scratchy and hard from body salts. The smell of diesel. It was noisy, unless it was silent and then the silence would be interrupted by gun fire and the low vibrations of mortars. The sound of the wind over vast desert. The sand scraping at your exposed skin. The penetrating sun. At times I fell to sleep, exhausted, while watching firefights and hearing the pops and whirls of bullets. On other occasions there would be a connection made with people from a faraway land, remembrances of family and freedom, and kind acts extended to those without or suffering. I am sad for those who die during their military service and for their families. I am thankful to military personnel for the private on guard duty and for those whom preform jobs requiring selfless service.

Those that preform their jobs well and with sacrifice, I think, is what we want to memorialize on Memorial Day. We especially observe those that pass away from us during the height of their independent youth. A great loss is felt. Like a song bird now silent in the woods or a butterfly that leaves our presence or a soldier sent to war and is never seen again by family and friends. They were beautiful and important and are missed and remembered. With that I present a poem from Emily Dickinson’s poetry collection, Two Butterflies.

XVIII

By Emily Dickinson from The Complete Poems Part Two: Nature 1924

Two butterflies went out at noon
And waltzed above a stream,
Then stepped straight through the firmament
And rested on a beam;

And then together bore away
Upon a shining sea, -
Though never yet, in any port,
There coming mentioned be.

If spoken by the distant bird,
If met in ether sea
By frigate or by merchantman,
Report was not to me.

The butterflies in the poem were a grand sight. Looking for the right words, I saw that Paul Evans has said, butterflies seem to draw the world around them into their dance. I think he is right! It is important to note the use of noon, the height of the day, alluding to the crescendo of the butterflies’ life. The butterflies flew away from Dickinson, to journey to the unknown and alas are lost to her. They can no longer be seen, touched, appreciated or admired. In the butterflies’ absence they are remembered and memorialized in the form of a poem. Oh Memorial Day.

Following One Chickadee, From May’s Sketchbook

May 25, 2013: We are twenty posts and a month into One Chickadee. It has been great! I have had many conversations with you, the readers, about birds and art. It turns out many of you are keeping your eyes on the skies and to the ground for our feathered friends. Also some of you have shared with me a secret love for poetry or maybe that you hadn’t even realized it until you read some here. That is so awesome! I am so glad you are enjoying the site and thank you for visiting. You are all awesome and are welcome to keep coming back to One Chickadee! With this being the final week in May I will share my sketch book from the last four weeks.

May Sketchbook, Mary Champagne

May Sketchbook, Mary Champagne

Before we part ways, I would like to talk about following One Chickadee. I have noticed there are a few people following through use of clicking on greenstone123 when I comment on other blogs. (This is great! It does work to get here, I just would like to talk about possible ways to follow a little easier!) I have also been asked directly how best to keep up with One Chickadee posts. So here are some solutions.

  • There is a ‘One Chickadee’ facebook page! It is located at https://www.facebook.com/OneChickadee. You are welcome to click on the link. By liking this page you will get updates about One Chickadee under your ‘page feeds’ and in your status updates on facebook.
  • You can also follow by clicking the tab in the bottom right corner of the screen. Insert your email address and get new posts delivered directly to your inbox.
  • For those who use RSS feeds, on the right hand side under ‘Meta’ you can click on ‘Entries RSS’ and follow the prompt.

A note on twitter. I do not use twitter as I do not have a portable device to tweet on. Since I cannot readily respond to tweets or send them when away from the computer, I prefer not to have an account at this time.

If you have questions about following One Chickadee, or one of these methods is not working for you please contact me. I am learning too and there maybe things I am missing. If anyone has any suggestions on improving ‘One Chickadee’ please email, comment here or on the facebook page.

Tightly Packed, The Fledgling

May 24, 2013: Today is cold! I have been outside all morning with a garage sale to sell my daughter’s baby stuff. She is entering grade school and it is time to make room for the new things in our tightly packed lives.

Speaking of tightly packed, last week I visited my Mom with my daughter in tow. She had the day off of school due to parent teacher conferences and she had not yet visited Grandma’s new house. She was so excited and loves that her Grandma is nearby. Following lunch around the table, Mom had updated us on the condition of the robin’s nest. The three eggs, with the Mother’s care, had been exchanged for three baby birds that were now getting ready to leave the nest.

Baby Robins

Baby Robins

My mom found her camera and I took pictures of the birds. It was a nest that once protected and enclosed them. Now the birds tightly packed, had tails and bills hanging over the sides. It was only through cooperation that they managed to stay inside.

Complete with feathers and hungry appetites the robins have since left the nest. And with that I present ‘The Fledgling’. A young robin ready to take on the world.

A Robin Fledgling, watercolor, Mary Champagne, One Chickadee

A Robin Fledgling, watercolor, Mary Champagne, One Chickadee

Hatching out a new header at One Chickadee!

May 21, 2013: I have changed the header. For those interested on how I accomplished this, read on. I made use of my digital camera capturing an image of a charcoal drawing I had done last summer, use of ‘paint’, and determined an overall design. The pixel size for my header is 276 high x 1015 long. I had decided on the charcoal picture as I thought the grays and blacks would work well with the grays in the background picture. I also thought that the charcoal bird on the side would introduce the blog well. I took the digital picture of the charcoal bird and sized it to the proper height and placed it within the paint window. I had wanted a solid background on which to put the text. I used the ‘eyedropper’ tool in paint and grabbed a gray shade from the bird. I finally found the right shade of grade and painted in all the white. I zoomed in and cleaned up around the bird to give it a crisp and finished appearance. I added a crayon styled boarder and text. Tada, One Chickadee gets a new header! Yeah to paint!

Landscapes, Points of View and Perspectives, Looking into Bear Lake

May 21, 2013: It has been a long time since I painted a landscape picture and I thought I would do some practicing.

Looking into Bear Lake, watercolor landscape, Mary Champagne, One Chickadee

Looking into Bear Lake, watercolor landscape, Mary Champagne, One Chickadee

I was working on the watercolor landscape this weekend. It has a little more work to go, but it is shaping into a dock that precedes marsh grasses that looks into a pond. I did this while listening to Orwell’s Animal Farm on an audio book. While painting, I got to thinking about landscapes, points of view and perspectives. Painters like authors interpret what they see, what is there, what should be there, possibly try to communicate a feeling and so on. I was working from a picture that I had taken of Bear Lake in the U.P of Michigan by Mclaine State Park. I had to add details that were washed out in the picture. I simplified those things that I didn’t want the viewer to focus on, and I worked to add a sense of depth using color and point of view perspectives. It is in fact an interpretation of what was really there. How many times do I do this in life? Simplifying the details to understand a bigger picture? But then what is being left out and was it important to the interpretation? All things to consider for the next landscape.

Longing for ‘The Veery’

May 17, 2013: My mom had given me a book, ‘The Oxford Book of American Verse’ (1927) last summer. I love some old print books as the content simply cannot easily be found today. One of my favorite poems in the book is ‘The Veery’. I think on this poem often.

The Veery by Henry Van Dyke (1895)
The moonbeams over Arno's vale in silver flood were pouring,
When first I heard the nightingale a long-lost love deploring.
So passionate, so full of pain, it sounded strange and eerie;
I longed to hear a simpler strain,—the wood-notes of the veery.

The laverock sings a bonny lay above the Scottish heather;
It sprinkles down from far away like light and love together;
He drops the golden notes to greet his brooding mate, his dearie;
I only know one song more sweet,—the vespers of the veery.

In English gardens, green and bright and full of fruity treasure,
I heard the blackbird with delight repeat his merry measure:
The ballad was a pleasant one, the tune was loud and cheery,
And yet, with every setting sun, I listened for the veery.

But far away, and far away, the tawny thrush is singing;
New England woods, at close of day, with that clear chant are ringing:
And when my light of life is low, and heart and flesh are weary,
I fain would hear, before I go, the wood-notes of the veery.

To me this poem speaks about desire and longing. A special personal longing, whether it is a loved one, a paramour, a call to the outdoors, or a woodland companion, the veery. Dyke’s poem takes a sad and almost desperate turn at the end. “And when my light of life is low, and heart and flesh are weary, I fain would hear, before I go, the woodnotes of the veery.” Dyke points out to us that time is limited and that the things that we cherish, that we have carried a torch for, if they do not leave us, we will leave them. By the last line I am always so sad and it makes me reflect.