Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Crows of November

For some reason I always notice the crows in November. Of course, they are around all year, but somehow their gatherings are more noticeable in the bleak barren trees of late fall. Maybe they are more obvious, reeling and cawing against the gray sky. Or maybe their chattering and varied vocalizations are easier to hear without the muting of dense tree leaves.
I have always been fascinated by crows. They are remarkably intelligent and their social behaviors are complex and often human-like. Thus they play a significant role in the culture and mythology of peoples worldwide, from bearers of omens to minor gods.
Recently, ravens have moved onto our hilltop as well. These are much larger and more impressive than the crows. They are also very intelligent, maybe more so than the crows,(and hold a higher status in cultural myth.) It will be interesting to observe how the ravens and crows get along in the coming years.
A few weeks ago I was walking along the road when I heard a loud beating swoosh coming up from behind me. I cringed, as if a giant pterodactyl was about to carry me off. But looking up, I saw two huge ravens flying a few feet overhead. The pair was wingtip-to-wingtip as they flew purposefully down the road. It was quite a sight to see, and well worth the start.
I have been sketching and photographing crows and ravens, and expect them to appear on future works.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fuzzball and the Night Sky

I have always been fascinated with the night sky. On the hilltop, a clear night brings out a vast sparkling sky of countless stars. Long ago I memorized the major constellations and the brightest stars. I have followed the seasons in the sky for many years and find their familiar patterns give a sense of comfort and order. But occasionally something interesting happens and disturbs that order.
The past few weeks a comet has appeared and is currently in the constellation Perseus. The comet is named Holmes. It unexpectedly brightened significantly and can now be seen with the naked eye. It looks like a glowing fuzzball rather than the typical comet. This is because the tail is pointing directly away from the earth and can’t be seen behind the comet.
People used to think that comets were omens that brought great disruptions and change. When that was pointed out to an astronomer during a radio interview, he responded with tongue-in–cheek cynicism, “it’s just an icy dirtball and doesn’t care about us.” Still, it is an object of awe and inspiration.
And as an inspiration, I have included the night sky in several of my works, including my most recent. I hope to post that on my website soon.