The Quiet of Winter
The holidays are sure fun! They're filled with lots to do, people to see, events to attend! Although I enjoy the holidays, especially re-connecting and spending time with loved ones, I also look forward to a quieter space as we nestle into the winter months. To me, winter solstice marks the beginning of a still, peaceful time.
I take my cues from nature. This is a time to slow down for a little while. A time for long walks at dawn or dusk when no one else is out. It's also a time to rest a bit. A time to cuddle up in a blanket with a good book and a cup of tea. It's a time for gentle self-care and nurturing. It's a time to reflect.
Wishing you a peaceful winter season. May you enjoy the quiet...
I first got the idea to include pygmy nuthatch in a western body of work from my friend Chris, an ecologist with The Nature Conservancy. A few years ago, I met with Chris to talk about the most important species and ecosystems in Colorado, and he gave me excellent ideas for subjects to include in my series of paintings. Pygmies were among them.
These nuthatches are tiny, communal songbirds that flit from branch to branch with boundless happy energy. I've enjoyed hours watching them and listening to their cute “rubber-ducky” calls. Pygmies breed in large extended-family groups and need mature pine forests to successfully nest. During cold winters here in the West, these little birds even roost together to keep warm.
In this painting, I highlight the connection of mature forests to healthy populations of songbirds. Pygmies, once common, face challenges today in places like Colorado because of heavy land use alteration and forest clearing. Let's keep our mature pine forests flourishing to ensure that these adorable songbirds have a bright, beautiful future!
Within the last few weeks, I finished the second painting for the exhibit in Vancouver next year. The Amber Mountain Rock-thrush! These beautiful little birds are on the IUCN's red list because just like the Ridgway's Hawk (my first painting for this exhibit), they have a very small, isolated population. They live in mid-altitude montane forests and are cavity nesters, raising their young in rock crevices and tree hollows. The Amber Mountain Rock-thrush has been found only in Madagascar's Amber Mountain massif. The bird's population is estimated to be less than 5,000 due to habitat loss and deforestation.
My hope is that through the Silent Skies exhibit, the artistic centerpiece for the International Ornithological Congress next September, we will raise awareness for bird conservation around the world. In my newest painting, the male thrush in his brilliant blue and red colors is singing to his mate with happy optimism! We can restore balance in our natural world! Yes we can!
Stay warm and cozy,
enjoy quiet moments in nature,
and take good care of you!
As always, please feel free to leave a comment below...
I'd love to hear from you! How do you enjoy nature during the winter months?
With love for the natural world, I'm inspired to share how species are connected to each other, to their ecosystem homes, and to people around the world. An eternal optimist, I bring into visual form the concept of biological diversity, the unity of all life, and how we're all connected. In our connection lies hope.