Thursday, March 24, 2011

the usual birds and some others, too

Just now, strolling out in the side field with my son, on the fresh snow I saw a wide messy swathe of sweeping feather marks and the end of a trail of tiny mouse tracks.  Junior was oblivious to the drama this showed--a moment of diving from the sky, crashing into the equally oblivious mouse, and an instant rodent death in the talons and beak of an owl, falcon or hawk.  My three-year-old son stomped across the delicate feather marks and his boots obliterated the one-way mouse tracks.  I have seen a bird of prey crash down out of the sky onto a chicken, like a fluttering grey and brown stone, blammo, and then off again in powerful strokes, chicken no longer grazing on the ground.  That would be a quick way to go, I think.

The chickens are out of their coop now, the snow having melted enough so that they can exit easily.  At first this morning when I saw the feather marks in the snow I worried that I had just lost a chicken, but the mouse tracks told the story clearer than I could have imagined.  No blood, just a ploof of evidence on the dusting of snow.

Yesterday as I was driving through the mountains with a friend, she noticed a big bird arcing over us and craned her neck to watch it.  Then with a sigh of disappointment, she said, "Turkey vulture.  But it was flying like an eagle."  I look forward to the day when I know the birds well enough to spot their flying styles, feather patterns and habitat.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

as white as something white

The other day I settled in to read my son a book about fire fighters.  He is in love with all things fire fighter, partly because Dad is a volunteer firefighter for our mountain town.  Well, I opened the book and found to my sadness that every single firefighter in the story was a white man, and they were fireMEN, not fighters.  As I read to my son, and he gazed avidly at the detailed and engaging illustrations, all I could think about was Crayola multicultural magic markers.

I will order some brown-hued markers and crayons from the good ol' big south American river and edit this and other books.  Babar has been banned from our house due to overt African colonialism, and Curious George's early life in the U.S. is not a part of my son's knowledge base, as George was kidnapped from his brown mother and brought to live with the white people.   Not every children's book is so potentially offensive, and I can't say if my son found it upsetting at all.  All he saw was his beloved fire house and gear.  But deep inside his capacious brain, I wonder if there is anything that registers when he sees books like that.  All-white, all-white, all-white.  Does he get the message that he is invisible or different?   When will I help him untangle this particular messy knot?

His hair is growing and we are sadly inconsistent about moisturizing, so his curls are a little dry.  But they are black and tight, and sweet-smelling, and cling to his handsome head just as hair is supposed to do.  People in our entirely white, rural area who reach out to touch his hair have no idea, I suspect, how this action frightens me.  Get your ignorant hands away from my son's head, I want to shout.  At the grocery store recently I frowned at two little girls and in the hearing of their father, said sternly, "didn't anyone ever teach you its impolite to stare?"

Even at home, in the quiet comfort of my son's blue bedroom, racism sticks its insidious snake-like head inside our lives.  Tomorrow some magic markers can fix it.  What tools will I need in the future?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

art and tools of orgasm

Winslow Homer is a great American artist, and I came across a series of his works reproduced in black and white in the November 1975 edition of Antiques magazine. Immediately I saw penises in these pictures.  Am I particularly dirty minded?  I don't think so!  But I do acknowledge that we see what we want to see in art.  If I were looking for vulvas I probably wouldn't find them in Homer, but maybe in O'Keefe.  Actually, I think what O'Keefe painted was women's orgasms.  Here's another nice one.  Leaves me breathless and satisfied.