Friday, September 25, 2009

Robin Hood

"He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge. (Psalm 91:4)

Robin’s are not particularly fussy about where they build their nests. I’ve seen a nest cradled in a wreath on someone’s door, and a nest wedged between a light fixture and the bricks on a friend’s front porch.

My friend watched over the nest like a mother hen; protecting first the blue green eggs that appeared, and then the tiny newborns that followed. Each time he stepped out on his porch, the mother robin swooped over his head and dive bombed him to protect her nest. Little did she know that he was a staunch ally.

The robins’ precarious nest-building habits are not without risk, and many a nest topples to the ground following a strong windstorm. But when it comes to parenting, robins are seldom outmatched.

My acrylic painting “Robin Hood” was inspired by the apple blossoms in the Spring and the sighting of a robin’s nest.

Painting is available with barnwood frame; acrylic on panel; $325 plus shipping. Contact the artist if you are interested. For purchase of giclees, cards or prints, go to the following link:

Nature Unleased

I never thought I’d be grateful for vultures and buzzards, but I am; even though their menacing black descent into my back yard ignited first repulsion and then indignation.

I grabbed my broom, determined to shoo them away; but as I opened the back door, a stench of decay gave me pause. Something was dead – a rabbit perhaps, or the thick three-foot snake my husband had glazed with his driver while practicing his golf swing?

I went back inside to watch as other black marauders circled, landed, and chased off the first-comers that still ravaged through the surrounding grasses and shrubs. A small white feather sailed upward and then floated to the ground. Were they feeding on a bird, I wondered, or had they only frightened one away?

A loud squabble ensued as a Darth Vader shrouded bird chased another to the roof and was soon joined by three others, all fighting over the same scrap of flesh which hung from an interloper’s bill.

I counted 12 vultures in all: ten black ones and two turkey buzzards that later joined the ruckus. The black maelstrom lasted less than 30 minutes. Afterward, I stepped outside to view the aftermath.

I had seen the remains of a vulture party before: a squirrel neatly skinned from head to tail, the remains completely devoured except for the fur; an armadillo’s exoskeleton covered in flies; a pile of feathers, a wing, a mound of fur.

On this day, all that remained was a fragment of unrecognizable bone, and wonder-of-wonders, the nauseating smell of decay was gone. The clean-up crew had done its job.

Wouldn’t it be great to have our own personal clean-up crew to wash away bad habits, pitiful mistakes, unloving actions, unworthy thoughts and desires — the fruits of our failed humanity?

Oh, wait a minute — there is: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” John 3:16-17

The Lord takes away our sins and remembers them no more. He finds us where we are and leads us into his sheltering arms. He is a loving God; a forgiving God. He comforts us in our deepest sorrow, and rejoices when we reach up to receive his healing gift of grace and forgiveness.

“For by grace are we saved, through faith; and that not of ourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Amen and Amen

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Mocking Bird

“The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies proclaim the works of his hands.” (Psalm 19)

On my daily walk, I watched a turkey vulture swoop overhead and land on a hot tile roof a few feet away. The buzzard spread its wings to soak up the sun and rest while it digested its morning meal.

A startled mocking bird stopped in mid-flutter
to bombard the huge bird, diving at it with angry squawks and stabs of its beak, despite the fact that its enemy was ten times its size. The indifferent vulture pulled in its neck, tucked its small red head between gangly wing blades, and stubbornly ignored the mocker’s tenacious thrusts.

Not to be outdone, the gutsy mocker continued to swoop and dive, until finally the exasperated vulture lifted its dark wings against the sky and flew off in search of a new perch.

I enjoy the antics of the Florida mocking bird, a slightly browner version than its northern counterpart. Its uproarious songs and saucy attitude inspired my acrylic painting: “Berry picking time.”

Painting is available with barnwood frame; acrylic on panel; $325 plus shipping. Contact the artist if you are interested. For purchase of giclees, cards or prints, go to the following link:

Nature unleashed


Armadillos are the miniature knights of the underworld. Their strange armored bodies are usually seen early in the morning or at dusk; a scurrying blur in front of headlights or as road kill the day after.

When I finally get to see one wrapped in bony layers of silver, pushing a tapered snout into the ground to sniff out ants and grubs, I stare in disbelief. Whether to laugh at such a creature, run away in fear, or praise God for small miracles are all up for grabs.

I watch in silence from only three feet away. The silvery armored tail is pointed in my direction like a sharp, menacing spear. I hear a swish and I’m off like a shot, my forgotten camera still dangling from my wrist. Who wants a painting of an armadillo anyway?

Nature unleashed


The air smelled heavy and earthy. The sun melted the last wisps of morning fog and warmed my back as I stood in the wet grass. A few yards away, a pair of male redwing blackbirds sparred in the underbrush, rising and falling like miniature conquistadors sporting shiny black satin and flashy red epaulets.

They lunged at each other, lifting exultant wings. Their talons poised and threatening. Between lusty bouts, they perched on low-lying branches until the urge returned and they faced off again with aggressive thrusts and retreating pirouettes.

From the corner of my eye, a brown streaked bird with a long broad tail flapped into view. Was this plain, undistinguishable female the reason for this extravagant display of testosterone? She hovered over them casting her spell, flapping her wings like a butterfly on steroids.

First she tried to distract them by darting from side to side. Then she swooped near, pretending to protest their dual of love. When this didn’t work, she trailed after them as they whirled from bush to bush; a visual reminder of her stake in the outcome.

I left before their contest was over. I never witnessed the losing male’s defeat nor the triumphant coming together of the welded pair. What I took away was an indelible memory that may become a painting by-and-by.