Along the Roadside…October

You never know what you’ll find out on the roadside. Although I walk the same two-mile loop frequently, few days are ever the same. Subtle changes shift one week into the next, one season into another. Noticing is the art of going.

My recent walks have been in the late afternoon; wind picking up, sun low on the horizon. The flowers and grasses have gone to seed, a few bunches of wild grapes are left for the birds. It’s a good time to capture the moment: October in its final fading days. November is coming fast.

Admittedly, this next page is an unusual addition to this post.I came upon a dead barred owl lying in the grassy margin of the roadside, clearly struck by a car or truck. Daylight was fading fast, but the owl was so absolutely beautiful that I couldn’t let it go. If I didn’t paint it then, the opportunity might be gone. There was only time to capture a fleeting impression of feathers, but that seemed a fitting way to acknowledge the life and the loss.

12 Comments on “Along the Roadside…October

  1. Well, now I have tears in my eyes. Your gift is noticing…and your gift to us is your sharing the amazing things you notice. I cannot wait for your book next week. You are a joy. Love, Betsy

  2. Wow! Are you fortunate or what? We once lived in an area where we heard that wonderful call of the Barred Owl often. I am wondering if you hear them at your house, or was this unfortunate guy passing through?
    Along the roadside you have captured such a lovely group of plants, especially the milkweed. Thanks for your frequent drops of delight to our inboxes. And, oh! yes THE BOOK. Can’t wait.

    • Hi Dawn- Yes, we do have habitat for Barred Owls here and I have heard them, as well as Great Horned Owls and Screech Owls. I was very surprised at the size of the Barred Owl– it was smaller than I thought it would be. So…I’m very sorry to lose this owl as a neighbor, but hopefully another will move in.

  3. Thanks Jean for your exquisite, detailed work. You are such a sensitive soul and it shows in your art as well as your words. It’s a pleasure to read, view and see through your eyes. Painting the life and loss of a beautiful wounded owl reminds me that all life is such a precious gift.
    I wonder if you draw/paint as you walk your familiar, ritual walk. Do you take pictures to paint once in your studio or paint on the spot when your eyes find beauty to notice?

    • Hi Bernadette- thanks for your thoughtful note. I walk and run this route a lot without a sketchbook, but I’m usually looking at what’s around with an eye toward sketching. About once a week, I go out with my sketchbook and a pen and I draw what I find. For the owl, I went home and grabbed my sketchbook and paints so that I could work right on the roadside. I often finish at home, adding more detail or color or even additional sketches to complete a page. And I almost always do the text at home so I have a clean and steady surface.

  4. I just love your ‘along the roadside’ entries. You’ve inspired me to do a few of my own. It’s helped me to take a closer look at the sometimes subtle changes going on in the world beneath my feet. Thank you. PS. I love the call of the Barred Owl. We hear them around from time to time.

  5. The fact that your roadside walk turned up the dead Barred owl seems perfectly real to me, and I appreciate that you chose to work it into the post. With the ‘Broken Flight’ title, it’s poignant. (I like that last purple thistle hiding at the bottom of the page above, too).

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