Saturday, December 5, 2009

Beat It

Hello readers. Thanks for choosing Bibliowhining as your finals week procrastination station!

Thanksgiving weekend has flowed directly, and without mercy, into two weeks worth of final projects, but I've had this little true story incubating since Thanksgiving day.

Last week, while waiting for certain components of my delicious Thanksgiving feast (including a pecan fudge pie from scratch) to do their magic in the oven, I took a walk with my mom in the woods behind my house. Loyal readers of Bibliowhining will recall that I live in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, and my backyard extends into miles and miles of pine forest with deer, herons, snapper turtles, beavers and other wildlife. It's not some park like we have in Syracuse where you look in every direction and still see roads and cars and houses in the distance through the tree branches.

Anyway, in the woods, a bit off the trail, my mom pointed out something she had found earlier: a scattering of about 30 smallish, white birds eggs with brown and black spots all over them. Lying on the ground amongst the pine needles, they were vulnerable yet still intact.

My mom didn't know what kind of eggs they were. Turtle or snake eggs? No, reptile eggs are soft shelled. These eggs were hard shelled; definitely from a bird.

I guessed they were quail eggs based on my experience watching Iron Chef. I've never seen a quail in my woods, quails also presumably don't lay 30 eggs at a time on the ground.

Just what is going on here? The rest of the story, and a little watercolor drawing, can be found after the cut.

Like the silly exploratory kid I am, I picked open one of the cracked eggs, hoping to find the remains of a developing fetus inside that would help me identify the species of bird that mothered this little flock. Instead, I found a smelly surprise: A rotten, hard-boiled egg.

Returning later to sketch the scene, I heard a deer hunter loading his gun. Not wanting to leave this world face down in a pile of rotten quail(?) eggs with a gunshot wound to the back of the head, I left the area after catching some minimal details. I later used these details and notes to do the little painting below. One assumes they're hunting deer, but there's always the chance they're hunting people.

I'm kind of liking watercolor, and wish that my undergraduate art program offered a watercolor course. Looking back, I suppose that curriculum focused more heavily on using art to repeat political statements than on creating art which is beautiful, sensitive, spiritual and soulful (not that my art is as beautiful as I'd like, but the latter are my goals). The lesson learned is to research various undergraduate programs to find the best fit for you, rather than diving in blind based on its high ranking. I could also benefit from a flat brush. Watercolor is so much cleaner than oils, and also non-toxic which is great since watercolor paints taste so delicious!

In summary, the punchline: Somebody had dumped 3 dozen hard-boiled quail eggs in the woods, but gently enough that only a few had cracked. This is the kind of mysterious weirdness one finds in my home town.

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