For all you nature lovers, the Kindle version of Strange Company, my collection of nature essays is on sale at Amazon. This is a light-hearted look at some of our most curious beasts, a cozy read for these cold winter months. Here is an excerpt from “Consider the Sloth.”
“The two main emotions in life are love and fear, and certainly there is ample evidence that animals feel both. I imagine that when the shadow of a raptor passes overhead, a sloth cringes in fear. What about the lesser emotions, the ones that don’t serve us—like worry? Does a sloth, with all that time he has, worry about eagles and jaguars? Or does he have more productive thoughts, which part of the tree he’ll dine on that night? Or is he, in some deep animal way, simply enjoying himself, his mind a movie screen of pleasant images: leaves, sky, dappled light. When thoughts are not needed, maybe animals are not burdened with them.
It is estimated that people have sixty thousand thoughts a day, a figure not as impressive as it sounds. These sixty thousand thoughts are the same ones we had yesterday and the same ones we’ll have tomorrow. In our day-to-day lives, we are not much good at thinking out of the box. A sloth hangs in one tree all its life and has no company other than the mate it couples with every fourteen months or so. With this scant stimulation, I wonder how many separate daily thoughts a sloth has. One hundred? Twenty? Three? I would trade my sixty thousand for a glimpse of them.”
Some days I don’t notice the nuthatch climbing the cinnamon scales of a pine tree, or the honeybee paused on the edge of the birdbath, drinking. Some days I see only the skim of a hamburger wrapper floating in the bayou, a chain link fence studded with plastic bags, a still gray form in the middle of the road, justifying despair. I lose some days entirely, as if this world can do without me, as if the way back is not just a few feet away, where a lime green katydid the size of a staple is waiting for my astonishment.
Many thanks to editor Corey Cook for publishing “What Is Wild” in Red Eft Review. Several of my poems have been featured in previous issues of Red Eft Review, and I am grateful and honored to be part of his fine journal once again.
I wish to thank D. Ellis Phelps, editor of the new anthology Purifying Wind, “an anthology of poetry to honor the vulture, many species of which are declining or in danger. Book represents the work of forty-three poets from six countries, many of whom are prize winning and Pushcart nominees. Poems enter the realm of many subjects including wonder, desire, love, aging, memoir, death and birth, and the natural world, to name a few. ”
I am delighted to have my poem “The Natural Order” included in this inspiring collection. Here is a video of me reading the poem. You may watch others authors reading their work on the Purifying Wind page on Amazon.
Hello again. Time to post a few more pictures. These are all done in acrylics and on natural wood, mainly pine. You can check out our Etsy site to learn more. Art is how we how we come together, and how, in these strange times, we heal.
It has been a while since I last posted images of my artwork. I recently set up an Etsy storefront, 4HandsArtShop, through which my work can be purchased. I am still loading images on Etsy, but for now, here’s a peek at some of my new creations. Thank you for stopping by.
Fall is the kindest season,
the way it drenches the trees with color,
then lets each glorious leaf sail away,
as if beauty is a burden meant for release
and worth is what stays behind,
ready for anything.
An osprey dives over and over,
as many times as it takes to stay alive
and become incidentally superb.
Driving down the road near my house
I see them flying, a stunned fish in their claws,
as if nothing could be more ordinary
than a bird bringing home dinner.
Wings or brains,
we work with what we have.
I can’t snatch a meal from the ocean
at 50 miles an hour,
but I can plant a garden,
make stories out of thin air,
learn the difference
between an aspen and an alder.
Minute by minute,
even I can be splendid.
It’s been several months since I posted any of my acrylic paintings, so here are twenty of my most recent efforts. As you can see, I am drawn to animal portraits. These were all rendered from photos that captivated me.