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Why Whack Bluets?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

It's really difficult to write good copy for your web site. It's like one big, multi-page artist's statement. You try to write things that will still sound good in a year or two, things that represent who you are and why you do what you do. One of the things I came up with for my home page is this:

Since 1986, I've made a living from natural history illustration and writing. I'm writing and illustrating my own books now, providing commentary for National Public Radio, and bringing the natural world to many readers with a daily web log. I have finally convinced myself that hiking in the woods is my work. Naturally, I love my job.

I still like that statement. Hiking in the woods IS my job. Blogging, in a very real sense, is my job, too. And taking the joy of discovering nature out wherever I go is my job. This weekend, I'll head to the Mohican Wildlife Weekend in Belleville, Ohio, sorta west of Akron. I'll do a reading from Letters from Eden, two book signings at Malabar Farm, and a couple of nature walks. I'll get paid for it, but that's the least of it. I like doing these things. I feel very fortunate that people will pay me to speak and take walks in the woods, to point out birds and wildflowers and insects and all the minutiae that are so important to me, that make up the fabric of my life. It's not always easy. I have to leave my family and work and drive long distances and get up at ridiculous hours (though MWW is a lot kinder than most festivals in that regard). I come home smashed flat and dead tired, but it's a good tired.

Yesterday's walk with Baker netted so many images that I saved some for tonight. The first thing I saw as we swung out the big meadow was a clump of bluets. Quaker ladies. Honesty. Whatever you call them, they're the sweetest harbingers of spring.Poor soil indicators though they may be, I adore them and their shivery blue color. On the route I drive a couple of times a week there is a barren hillside in front of a ranch house. About the only thing that can grow on it is moss and bluets. They do their best to brighten the red clay. On a couple of passes by this steep incline, I have seen the homeowner out, weed-whacking the bluets in the height of their bloom.There used to be white trillium on that slope (it was woodland not that long ago), but he's long since taken care of those. It's all I can do not to stop the car, climb out, wait for him to shut his ridiculous tool off, and ask him what he could possibly be thinking. As if nothing--bare blasted clay-- were better than bluets and trillium. I wonder if I'm going to be the kind of little old lady that would stop her car, jump out and confront a person doing something like that. It could happen.
The sky was just delicious yesterday and this morning. I love clouds with flat blue bottoms, clouds that rank in the sky like grazing sheep. I checked for cattle in the pasture below, found none, then let Baker run ahead. This is a picture of a Boston terrier, self-actualizing.This is about as happy as Baker gets. I suppose seeing a bunneh and being allowed to chase it is a bit better. But nobody appreciates a good romp in spring sunshine more than Chet Baker. He did a bit of dog-grazing, eating the fresh grass and even a few multiflora rose leaves. Just a bit of roughage to wash down the pot roast and Royal Canin Special 27 Mini kibble.
He had to check the old dead shagbark hickory for squirrels. What a squirrel might be doing in a stone-cold dead tree in the middle of a pasture, only Baker knows. But he checks anyway. Such a doggeh.If you're anywhere near Belleville this weekend, come see me! Remember to blurt, "BLOG!"


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