Sunday, April 29, 2012

Three New Birds

I had a pretty good haul over the weekend at the decoy show.  Shown above are the three new additions to the shelves here. On the left is a Red Knot carved by Jim Slack of Pekin, IL. In the center is a Bufflehead hen decoy made by Jim Williams of Normal, IL. A couple years back I purchased one of Jim's male Buffleheads so now they are a pair.   

On the far right of the trio is a cool little homage to a woodpecker effigy created by Hopewell or Mississipian cultures along the Illinois River.  It was made by Dean Hurliman of Burlington, IA.  

It was great fun talking to the various makers there. I'm not a hunter, so my interests come from the worlds of nature and art. My modest little collection now seems to have found it's center in the Illinois River valley. I enjoy looking at the older stuff but I prefer supporting the people working here in the 21st century.  

I think I appreciate decoys because so many things intersect at one point: history, birds and nature, folk art, and hunting. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Happy Arbor Day!

Red Oak (Quercus rubra) :: Cook County, IL :: 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Occupy It!

Earth Day is Sunday 

It's Five And I Like It

What with the seasonal nature of my work I am rising earlier than normal these days and my alarm is set at half past four.  And what with the restless nature of my seasonal work load I’m usually up before the alarm anyway.  But I’m not complaining.  Rising early has been a feature of my life since I had a paper route, and I look forward to the quiet time before most normal people wake up. 

Actually it’s not really all that quiet these mornings.  The robins in the neighborhood start their call and response about four.  Some are nearby, gurgling their melodious greetings which receive faint or fainter responses from the robin collective in the local tree tops.  I wish my hearing - as well as my knowledge of bird songs - were better at these moments. There is a depth and texture to this springtime symphony that is somewhat lost on me.

And let the record show that the cardinals chimed in at half past five.

It’s a cool morning, and damp, thanks to last night’s rain.  It feels like an April morning ought to feel, which is comforting after That March.  There are still  patches of wet on the pavement that have not yet evaporated.  At first glance the clouds above were all pink-orange gauze. This coloration not from an impending sunrise, but rather a reflection from the thousands of street lights from Chicago to the east.  It could make one wonder if he woke up on Mars. Soon the clouds start to part here and there revealing a pretty spectacular shade of turquoise higher aloft. 

But these things change you know, and more clouds drift in from the west and cover it all up. They have the look of rain, with more of the grey and violet hues.  The only orange color now is way off to the east, caused this time by the sun.  There is no wind and across the alley leaves on both the maple and elm hang lifelessly.  The bird collective has quieted down too, and I wonder if they sense rain.

One lone cardinal performs a solo in the gloom.

By six the quality of light and sky has changed yet again, and it feels more like daytime. A fat moth bonks drunkenly into a streetlight, seemingly convinced that the night is still young. Somewhere mid-block a dove coos to life, and the clouds part encouragingly. Sparrows skitter and hop on the alley foraging  for breakfast, and the low background rumbles of trains and traffic signal that many of you are now awake too.     

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Green Glow

Cook County :: 2012

Sunday, April 01, 2012

What's That Tree Worth?

With the National Tree Benefit Calculator you can estimate the environmental benefits that trees provide. Find out for yourself (use Internet Explorer to access the site) what that tree on the corner gives to you and your neighborhood.  A 13" Hackberry shows off it's stats below: