Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wild Turkeys

There is light snow here. It’s getting old and icy. The backcountry skiing was surprisingly good last week, despite the dearth of snow. I hope more is on the way. I enjoyed a beautiful run this morning. I started out in the red brush pictured above and ran up a ridge. I was a bit distracted by thoughts. Thus, it seemed that out of nowhere a great rush of noise erupted, as though something very large was springing out of the brush. I thought it was the mountain lion that I know lives up there. But no. One never hears the mountain lion coming. It was a flock of wild turkeys, taking flight. They left some lovely feathers in the snow in their wake.

Wild turkeys make all sorts of noises I couldn’t hope to imitate, let alone describe. Usually, I see them before they take off, and the noise isn’t so astonishing. They are large and ungainly. I saw what may have been the same flock often last winter, in the same area. I marveled at their continued existence, since it seemed to take them considerably longer to get off the ground than it would take a predator to spring. I always encountered them near the same ridgetop, the high point in the area. Awkward as they seem on the ground, in flight they are a beautiful sight. On a good downdraft, they soar without even a flap of a wing for what seems like hundreds of yards. They became accustomed to me last winter, and, after awhile, they stopped expending the huge amount of energy it takes them to take to the air. Instead, they ambled off, eyeing me pensively, looking slightly annoyed, and going about their business of seed-eating.

The coloring of wild turkeys found its way into my paintings last winter, and it probably will again now. I am still working on my Big Dream series of oil paintings that incorporate deer bones, and on the occasional watercolor. Another series has been in my head for months now. It will employ enlarged topographical maps printed, transferred, or adhered onto canvas and painted over. I want to make visual the way in which I get to know backcountry terrain by traversing it again and again with my body. For now, it’s time to turn my body toward the studio and get to work. I’ve got a show, with an energetic bunch of young artists, coming up at the Factory on 5th in Albuquerque. I’ll be hanging out there this Saturday, 19 December, from 1:00-6:00.

Here’s a parting shot of the frozen Santa Fe River, from the ridgetop I reached this morning, with Thompson Peak looming large in the morning light.

No comments:

Post a Comment