– Show no mercy to anyone who would violate this kind of trust –
[picture of Tzuri & oops by Ronnie Crapse]
– Show no mercy to anyone who would violate this kind of trust –
[picture of Tzuri & oops by Ronnie Crapse]
Foxy Mom knew exactly what she had to do. Her kit were far too playful and dependent, and they needed quick to grow up.
So she went out and snatched up a hapless ground squirrel.
SPOILER ALERT: read no further unless you can stomach other than a happy ending.
The badger mentioned in a previous post https://oopsjohn.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/foxy-lady/) returned with a vengeance.
Foxy Mom and the Bad-to-the Bone badger engaged in a vicious skirmish, pictures of which I don’t have but which from others have surfaced online. The badger managed to enter the fox den and remained there for several hours, until it got dark and photographers and observers were no longer able to see what was happening, and went home.
Foxy Mom and occasionally even Foxy Dad were seen the next morning camped outside the den, keeping watch, staring inside, apparently waiting for the culprit to emerge.
Momma Fox had also sometime during the night dug another den some 30 yards away. Whether or not the two kit were safely tucked deep down inside their new bunker or not is unknown.
Two days later, however, no badger, still no kit. Foxy Lady sits forlornly outside her second den and no kit have been seen for days.
The Law of Nature in its larger Wisdom has apparently claimed these two playful youngin’s.
What with her winter coat in tatters and the strain of having recently given birth, she struggles (not altogether unsuccessfully) to retain her regal appearance.
But patience, even for the biblical Job, has its limits. A good mother has to be constantly alert, and pay attention to the possibility of hurtful things well beyond the limited experience of her playful youngin’s.
I watched her stress level skyrocket as she ran back and forth for several minutes with nose high, jumping up on logs and boulders to scan the surroundings.
Something was not quite right, and she sensed it.
Sure enough, a badger suddenly scampered past the den and her unsuspecting kit. Fortunately, it was single-mindedly on its way somewhere else.
And sometimes, like with this badger incident when her nerves are frazzled, the kids simply get too much underfoot and snap at her once too often.
A swan with a secret is a thing of beauty.
If you wait patiently until she stretches you might just catch a glimpse of why she is so radiant.
The five eggs in this clutch each weigh @340 grams and will take 34-45 days to incubate.
Imagine her shock when her first born turned out to be not at all like herself! Then she remembered the story of “The Ugly Duckling,” and smiled.
But if First Born was not yet handsome at least he was inquisitive. Right away he demanded to know where he came from, and spent many long cygnet-hours staring at his beginnings trying to piece together the age-old puzzle.
Then, once he sort of understood the “chick ‘n egg” thing, he had a chat with his mom about that long neck of hers that reached so far up into the sky.
Like any good older brother, he decided to teach ‘Lil Sis a thing or two from his vast experience. “This is a twig,” he showed her. “One day you will need these to build a nest. See if you can pick it up.”
But ‘Lil Sis couldn’t coordinate that clumsy beak of hers and only managed to poke herself in the eye.
But alas, his sister was not much interested and obviously did not possess the requisite talent for existential conundrums. First Born gave her a good ‘tongue-lashing’ and made sure his mom was nearby so she would understand how smart he was compared to his obtuse little sister!
First Born realized that another sibling was due any moment now and he hoped it would be a smart little brother that he could bully and educate rather than another dumb sister who was no fun at all. So he sat down to wait…
Oh, no – another girl! With the same passive features and vacant stare!
First Born always carried himself with dignity. He stuck his little neck up as far as it would go and watched everything his mom did so one day he could grow up to be tall and competent, just like her.
In quick succession two more siblings climbed out of their shells.
But First Born didn’t have a chance to find out if these two were brothers or sisters because a mean lady came and snatched up the entire clutch and whisked them off to foster care.
The parents were bereft.
Fair and accurate reporting is usually dull and boring. It is far more interesting to craft narratives with villains and rough edges.
But I would be remiss not to point out that Samantha and the Parks & Recreation Dept. are trying to do the right thing. Last year not a single swan hatchling survived on Lake Morton.
This year, therefore, they are taking the cygnets into protective custody in the hope that they can be nurtured to maturity and re-released back into the wild in due time.
But recently I observed an interesting “grab ‘n go” technique by a hungry-looking snowy egret intent on snatching a ‘happy meal’ from a shallow pond.
He would launch himself from shore and glide low over the water.
Then, somewhat puzzlingly, he would drag his feet lightly across the surface.
What’s that all about, I wondered? Surely he can’t grab fish with his feet!
At times he almost seemed to be “walking on water.”
Suddenly I understood. At the last moment he would dig in and use his feet like rudders to maneuver his body and brake his momentum!
Commoners, peasants, serfs – in the world of Nature, gulls and their cousins are card-carrying members of The Third Estate.
Oops! Not so fast…
My mantra has always been “art teaches us to see.” And I like to proclaim with only a little hyperbole that “you can find beauty in a mud puddle.”
Maybe it’s time I took my own advice!
Dignity – Beauty – Grace
Besides – if I don’t stop stereotyping and refusing to see the uniqueness of these commoners, they just might begin plotting a Revolution.
And what if there’s a Reign of Terror and I get sent to the guillotine along with tens of thousands of other “enemies of the revolution”?
“Too Tall Papa” took his son “Lil’ Bit” for a walk.
“Lil’ Bit” was excited because now he would have a chance to learn to use those ungainly legs of his.
“Lil’ Bit” bravely tried to mimic his Papa’s every move. He didn’t know left from right but what’s so difficult about putting one foot in front of the other?
He stumbled a few times. Turns out manipulating those appendages is easier said than done!😦
But finally, if you discount the occasional wobble, “Lil’ Bit” managed to shuffle & strut just like a grown-up!
A package arrived for me last week.
Well, I don’t actually have an address but it was mailed to me c/o my sister and was postmarked from California.
As I started to tear open the cardboard box my sister suddenly screamed, “BUGS!”
Sure enough, the wrapping paper on the inside was playfully decorated with butterflies and insects. So delightfully original that I immediately stopped ripping and tearing and began removing the paper more reverently and less traumatically.
What a treat to finally hold in my hands a painting from Barbara Sparhawk!
Harper’s Ferry Dawn
Harper’s Ferry Dawn… I painted it from the front porch of the log cabin one morning. The sun came roaring into the grass out front (Spring, so wet there all the time).
It really is a wonderful painting. A triumph of concentration and looking looking looking… I spent hours and hours, several mornings getting the color of the sun hitting the grass right. There was such intensity to it, totally thrilling, a very particular yellow green, and off to the left shadows cast by trees and bushes darkened just a bit, and it was angled off the more intense trajectory.
There was an arched red wood bridge over one of many little creeks, off on the left. I strung a clothesline (to the right) to hang out stuff too big for the dryer, and nothing ever dried, even outdoors in days of sun, where you could find it, and rain about daily for a bit, too.
I loved that view. The trees on the farm grew fast enough but between storms and wind and being anchored in very wet land they frequently toppled before they reached real girth.
Barbara Sparhawk is a citizen of the world currently living near Carmel, California. I have never met Barbara in person but I have been privileged to “know” her online for about a year now. And I would be remiss if I didn’t sing the praises of a very remarkable woman.
Expressionist painters “express” feelings by distorting lines & colors. And Barbara is surely the premiere American female artist working in that vein today.
My favorite of hers is the visually stunning “Pfeiffer Beach After Storm”.
I was so smitten by this painting that I immediately inquired about its availability but unfortunately (for me) it had already been sold. She has a rich portfolio of others, however. See and judge for yourself Barbara’s diverse collection of portraits and landscapes, posters and cards and drawings at her RedBubble site:
Last summer while in Yellowstone I read Barbara’s “The Gandy Dancer & Other Short Stories.” I would get up at 4am, drive an hour and a half into the National Park for sunrise, hang around chasing bears and wolves until 2:00 or so in the afternoon, then rush back to the motel to read another chapter.
Episodically, in a kindred spirit to “On The Road” & “Tropic of Cancer,” she recounts the joy and the terror of leaving Brooklyn on a solo-odyssey to embrace the mysterium tremendum et fascinans of the creative Life. Along with six cats and a chocolate lab, she slept in her rusty blue 1974 Suburban and set up canvases by the side of the road months at a stretch before finally settling down and opening a gallery in the hinterlands of Big Sur.
Her adventures along the way are equal parts amazing and inspirational, and can be found on Amazon if you care to take a peep:
If ever there were a biography as yet unwritten I would love to read, it would be Barbara’s. Hers is a life well-lived that just keeps getting better & better.
I can’t resist posting a few tantalizing biographical tidbits:
WHAT A LIFE!
A life spent saying ‘no’ to compromise and ‘yes’ to distant horizons.
A life bristling with the ‘courage to be’ and practiced in the art of joyful engagement.
These days Barbara Sparhawk struggles to maintain her small art gallery in Carmel Valley, California.
Visit her at The Hawks Perch.
A goose flew down from Canada for the winter.
The first thing he spotted was a single mom with a sizeable brood.
Mr. Goose went about wooing Mama Muscovy with whirligigs and slalom-skids and flybys.
Then one quiet moment when she was dutifully impressed he leaned over and popped the question.
Okay, so maybe it was just rogue hormones kicking in but he took her under his wing, so to speak, and insisted on helping raise the kids as if they were his own.
Alas, Mr. Goose was unaware that mild winters attract all kinds of ruffians and ne’er-do-wells to Florida too.
Sinbad was a gypsy-drifter from Romania with no discernible skill except that he was an expert at disguising his intentions.
He could wait silently and patiently and blend into the background for hours on end.
He had a pedophile’s lust for the young and a gourmet’s appetite for the plump.
He never bothered you until he did – and that was the problem.
At first Sinbad’s modus operandi was to belly-flop into the lily pads like any casual tourist might do if they were just out for a look-see.
But when he flew away there was always one less playmate for the siblings to tease.
By my reckoning – and my math isn’t much better than Mama Muscovy’s – 16 ducklings dropped a whoppin’ 75% in less than a week! I was able to gather the final four together for one last family portrait.
Sinbad’s tactics quickly took an ominous turn for the worse. He had honed his evil eye and developed an addict’s taste for the forbidden, and stealth and cunning now seemed superfluous. He would barge in like a home invader and snatch a kid right out from under his parents’ eyes.
Four siblings became three in the blink of an eye.
Incredibly, three became one when Sinbad snatched TWO in one fell swoop.
I don’t normally take sides in Nature’s battles, but I found myself very much rooting for this last duckling – for her to be that “one child born [in] a world to carry on” as Laura Nyro (RIP) or BS&Tears would say.
Papa Goose made a defiant last stand, although his resigned expression betrayed a mixture of sadness and impotence.
Mama Muscovy was not optimistic either, and seemed preternaturally resigned to the inevitable.
😦 There are, of course, no happy endings in the Wild.😦
In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.
– Robert Frost –
The male being perhaps the most beautiful of all ducks, Mandarins are not native to North America.
Isolated populations do exist in the United States. The town of Black Mountain, North Carolina, for example, has a limited number. And there is a free-flying feral population of several hundred Mandarins in Sonoma County, California.
Lo & behold, a single pair of Mandarin Ducks has just been discovered on Lake Mirror in (aptly-named) Lakeland, Florida!
In traditional Chinese culture, Mandarin Ducks are believed to be lifelong couples, unlike other species of ducks. Hence they are regarded as a symbol of conjugal affection and fidelity, and are frequently featured in Chinese art.
The female is indeed a bit plain-looking, comparatively speaking.
Because the male and female plummages of the Mandarin Duck are so unalike, yuan-yang is frequently used colloquially in Cantonese to mean an “odd couple” or “unlikely pair” – a mixture of two different types of the same category. For example, the drink yuanyang, or yuan-yang (fried rice).
Of course, yin-yang also comes to mind. In Chinese philosophy, the concept of yin-yang, which is often called “yin and yang”, is used to describe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world; and, how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. Many natural dualities (such as female and male, dark and light, low and high, cold and hot, water and fire, life and death) are thought of as physical manifestations of the yin-yang concept.
This well-known Taoist symbol represents the yin-yang balance of opposites in the universe. When they are equally present, all is calm. When one is outweighed by the other, there is confusion and disarray.
True to form, this Lakeland pair of rogue Mandarins often seems the epitome of universal harmony and balance.
Do they really measure up to the hype bestowed upon them by saints and gurus?
I confess to a love for the rebel. Give me the individual who breaks the mold, shatters the stereotype, puffs his Mandarin whiskers out into a Fu Manchu and loses his cool.
[The Fu Manchu, incidentally, in the 60s heyday of counter-culture rebellion, came to be known as the “Biker Mustache.”]
This male Mandarin did just that once, lost his cool and chased after a Mallard that got too close to his woman. See those whiskers a-bristlin’? Ain’t no universal peace & tranquility and love for mankind in that expression!
The anti-hero, that’s my kind of guy! Let’s replace that boring black & white yin yang symbol with something a bit more virile to match the unpredictable ruthlessness of the Life Force that prowls the Universe.