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. Somehow your roof rats don't seem as obnoxious as Norway rats. Every since I live trapped a Norway rat and got a full dose of what a brazen beastie he is, I've given them a wide berth. Your roof rats seem almost as nice as having a red squirrel move into the attic.

    Wonderful words and sketches, Debbie!

  2. Beautiful drawings Debbie! The texture and the softness of the fur are so well done.

  3. Your drawings are lovely and sensitive. Every creature has a beauty, even if they drive us to distraction or harm us. What a wonderful opportunity to study - I love the details and feel like I've discovered a lot from your studies. Thank you!

  4. We have a family of these in our roof too - and was presented with just such a little body by our cat a few days ago. I didn't think to draw it! Your drawings are wonderful Debbie - I love the page of studies, and as always your story to go with them.

  5. I live in Spain, but reading your blog today, I have felt a sincere wish to send you health and strength to walk, so you can receive that energy around us outside our homes, in nature.

    Your paints are always beautiful, and reflects the beauty inside of you.
    Your graphic designs are fantastic, creative, and I'm feeling lucky for having found your wonderful comics, so painfully true.