Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Raven in the Wood

“We heard that if you split a raven’s tongue, it’ll talk like a parrot,” said the beautiful girl as she studied my raven drawings. 
My breath caught and fluttered in my throat like a trapped bird. 
She’d already told me that she used to steal raven nestlings in Ruidoso, where she was raised up. Then she cut her eyes at me, “but that didn’t sound like fun, so we didn’t do it.” 
Raven in the wood, carved into Ponderosa pine by Beth Surdut

Raven’s eye watched me as he appeared in the piece of wood I was carving. I tapped away at the chisel, bringing him out to join my clan. 
 He asked me,
“Why would I want to talk like a parrot?”

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Face to face with a hummingbird

One day, I was working on a drawing, magnifying glass in one hand, ink pen in the other, when I heard wing beats —so close, I could feel the air puff on my forehead. I held my breath, raised only my eyes, and looked at the hummingbird looking at me. Face to face, we both seemed suspended in the heartbeat of the universe before the bird turned and flew out through the open door.
So much more to this story @…/

 My place, late afternoon. 106 degrees. The fountain was off, so although there was water on the lower levels, this hummingbird hovered until I turned on the pump and the bubbler appeared.

 Anna's hummingbird nest found in a Russian  olive tree and wasp nest found in a salt cedar.
Baby broad-tailed hummingbirds about to fledge. Ink and colored pencil on paper by Beth Surdut. Signed fine art prints available.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Gila woodpeckers in Arizona

Inspector Gila was busy this morning, negotiating the barrel cactus in front of my desk. The male woodpeckers sport what looks like a red lipstick streak on their heads. Their voices, clearly heard, even when competing with traffic noise, sound like squeak toys having a party.
Learn about our relationship and the amazing engineering of these birds at…/122294-the-art-of-paying-attention…/

photo: Beth Surdut

Some creatures negotiate the thorniness of life better than others.

photo: Beth Surdut

Gila Woodpecker claims a cactus fruit. Pencil and pen on paper-- drawing by Beth Surdut


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Paying Attention: Fierce beauty

photo: Beth Surdut 2018

I'd been looking down for snakes as I walked in the desert heat,
 but when when I came round the bend, 
I immediately sensed I was being watched.
The Cooper's hawk was wary,
 in the way that predators are,
 but we both knew who had the right of  way.

photo: Beth Surdut 2018

I continued on, the lizards and bunnies all skittering and hopping away from me,
thinking they were running for their lives
even though they were taking the path to death.

I never shrug and burp up the pablum of "circle of life'
or "nature red in tooth and claw."
Instead, I hope that prey animals die immediately, 
not suffering, 
not wounded, 
not slowly suffocating,
not festering.
If death can be good, then may each precious little life die a good death.

Friday, June 8, 2018

The Kill

The Kill
©Beth Surdut 2018
Fill a paper bag with a branch dressed in dry leaves.
Shake the bag hard, vigorously
That’s the sound of death wrestling with innocence.

On a day where heat drags at you like a demanding child,
The tree flapped and rustled
Leaves so dense, I saw only movement and the shadow of death in flight 

I opened the tall wooden gate and walked into the alley
over the shed from the bamboo
And the African sumac
And the tamarisk
and the dove feathers.

This is where the hawks bring their kill.

I heard the wingbeats
Saw the Cooper’s hawk fly away
without the baby dove's wing.

White-winged dove, killed two days before its sibling fledged

I returned to the tree
Where the mother and remaining baby huddled
Watching me.
The next day, the father joined them
And the day after that
The nest was empty.
White-winged dove nesting in a tamarisk tree--drawing by Beth Surdut