Monday, February 13, 2012

One woman's treasure...

Graphite, colored pencil on  8.5 x 11 Strathmore paper

I've loved to walk since I can remember. I love to put one foot in front of the other and propel myself into the known or the unknown. It's a simple act that we mostly never even think about. For many years illness has limited my ability to go walking, which has only made me appreciate it more. I'm thrilled when I can go to a park and walk even for just a half mile and ecstatic when it's one or two miles.  I've learned to appreciate every single walk I'm able to take, even when I can only go around the block.

Last Sunday I did just that early in the morning before the neighborhood was awake. I listened and watched as birds began to move about, looking for food and mates, not necessarily in that order. I noticed that the leaf buds on many trees were nearly ready to burst and that many lawns had been mowed. On one of those lawns I saw a pristine dead Roof rat (Rattus rattus) looking so natural that I hesitated before collecting her to take home, afraid she would leap up and take offense as I placed her into a bag. She didn't and I spent a couple of days sketching and admiring her.

I know I'm not really supposed to like rats. As I write this I'm listening to the rustlings of a family of them that we've been unsuccessfully trying to evict from the attic above my studio. As my work day is ending I can hear theirs beginning as they exit through the (not so) cunning trap door we put in to let them leave but keep them from getting back in. I really do admire their ability to adapt to adversity. They've traveled far from their original place on the planet, yet thrive and multiply. And multiply. Where once they lived high up in trees and foraged in fields and forests, many now live high up in our buildings and get a ready supply of food from our gardens, homes and refuse. These tiny creatures have caused us much bigger creatures an awful lot of grief for a very long time without even trying. Pretty impressive, if you ask me.

Graphite, ink on 8.5 x 11 inch Stonehenge paper


  1. I agree with you, debbie. Rats are extremely adaptive and intelligent [they learn from their mistakes, unlike a lot of people :)] - truly to be admired!
    I'm glad to hear you took the rat home. I have 2 "cryogenically preserved" hummingbirds in my freezer.

  2. You are much braver than I. . .I would love to have studied him, but would have been unable to take him home. Such a great experience to be able to study a specimen like that. Bravo! Great illustrations too!

  3. These are terrific sketches Debbie. I expect rats are like cockroaches and will be here long after humans disappear from the planet. I find it interesting that those of us who really love Nature love her in all of her phases, including death. Like Studio at the Farm, I've had things in my freezer you wouldn't believe. Actually, you probably would.

  4. Beautiful study, Debbie. Yes, our freezers hold lots of wonders :) I love how we Sketching Nature Blog members are open and responsive to all aspects of nature. Bravo!

  5. This is just beautiful, Debbie, a fitting tribute to a life, even if it is "only" a rat. I've gratefully sketched any number of dead else would I get so close to a squirrel, a chipmunk, an oriole, a copperhead? I agree with everyone here...


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