Cardinal (illustration)

Cardinal postFINE ART PRINTS AVAILABLE HERE

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Life sometimes gets in the way, and I haven’t had the opportunity to really pour myself into a project recently. My uncle, who has fallen ill, has been on my mind. Family is in from out of town, and everybody is coming together to see this whole things through.

One of the things that has completely stuck with me, though, is my uncle telling me that one of his favorite things to do is sit outside in his backyard. He enjoys spending time listening to the birds. At first, I think people gave him grief about it; it’s odd to sit on a porch and stare up at the sky for hours at a time. But then, if your time on this earth might just be running out, I would also imagine that the sound of a gentle breeze coursing through the trees might sound that much more soothing. The sound of birds chirping might sound that much sweeter.

Everything changes when you realize you’re living on borrowed time. When you realize how little you may have left.

So, thinking about these things, I sat down yesterday and worked on this illustration. It’s based on a photograph I took last year. I’ve always had a tough time getting decent photographs of birds, and one afternoon this cardinal managed to just hang out, for a good long while, on the tree outside our living room window. I’m sure my girlfriend thought I was crazy, walking back and forth, to both ends of the house, out the front door, through to the back door, moving like a slow lumbering, stalking maniac with a gigantic camera lens clutched in his fists.

But every moment truly is a gift. Even when we obsessively try to snap a picture of a bird and curse under our breath when we can’t get our camera to focus properly. Every moment is a gift, because we only ever get to enjoy each moment once. Enjoy your day. Find an excuse to smile. It’s important.

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Murder Of Crows At The Cemetery

Murder of Crows postThe wind came from the southwest yesterday afternoon, bringing with it the threat of colder days. Flags whipped their heavy canvas sounds into the air, popping in the sky, rattling the halyards. A cluster of dry, cotton candy clouds slid across the darkening landscape.

I took a walk out to Lenexa Cemetery, a small patch of land we used to drive past on our way to church every Sunday morning. I know a few people buried there, but I’d never walked the grounds – only driven past. It strikes me as odd, these cemeteries, tucked in, flanked on either side by apartment buildings, within eyesight of the Hy-Vee Supermarket, FedEx Office, the McDonald’s. I’ve grown used to cemeteries always being on the outskirts, but that model doesn’t work in cities like this, which continue to expand their circumference, slowly devouring the pastures that I remember from my childhood.

A murder of crows were perched on the mausoleum in the center of the yard. One would occasionally pop into the air, circle around fighting the wind, only to settle back down onto it’s original perch. As I approached, their rhythmic cawing rose. Their heads would shoot left, shoot right, cock to the side, as if considering whether or not to fly away from me and into the unforgiving wind.

Save for the sound of their cawing, the wind in my ears, everything seemed still, despite the tide-pool of traffic that circled around the cemetery. Life in the city continued to pulse forward – just not here, in the crunching yellow grass, amid the blackbirds and the headstones.

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