I think many people are seeing their surroundings more deeply and in new ways this year. I have always loved the forest and found inspiration there, but more and more I am seeing the fleeting birds as well as the steady trees. Jude recently sent me Sibley's big bird guide, and it has been a delight. Then yesterday, after I posted about the heron nests, a facebook friend named Leslie wrote me and said she was clearing out some family things and would I like a pair of binoculars. I was both touched and delighted. Her mom isn't well, and they've been downsizing. I remember finding happy homes for some of my family things after turning my dining room into a printing press room instead. It meant a lot to have people enjoy those things I wasn't using, instead of just dumping them at a charity. I told Leslie, kind enough to bring them that very day, that I would think of her and her mom Virginia as I used the binoculars.
They're perfect. So exactly what I needed. I went straight to the heron nests again and watched the babies. The mother wasn't around, but the babies were edging gingerly along the branches, preening, shaking out their wings, and generally putting on a show. I took a chair (always in my car now, for visiting friends outdoors without having to touch anyone else's things) and sat and watched and sketched in my lap. It was a delightful evening. This morning over breakfast I did a picture of the book and binoculars for the journal. They certainly deserve prominence at this time. And I also want to remember the kindness of a near stranger who follows my art reaching out and giving me another tool to make it.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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