It is the dead of winter. Finally our Ohio Valley is enjoying a proper snowstorm, as I am of the opinion that if it must be cold, at least the snow is nice to look at. And it is cold. 10 degrees with a cutting wind that makes it feel even colder which is pretty brisk for this area. The snowflakes aren’t really flakes, so much as tiny biting ice crystals. My chickens came out to look around this morning when I went to open their coop and feed them. I haven’t seen them out of doors since, which means they aren’t as dumb as folks might think they are and they are enjoying the day inside looking outside, much as we are here in the house. I imagine them knitting….
I’ve been back home from Taos for a number of weeks now and have a number of Ginger story drafts going which feels really good. It hasn’t been full time art and story though. Lots of catching up to do at the shop and around the homestead. My oldest kidling, a sophomore in college, left to study abroad in Brazil so there was all of that to attend to. (passport, visa, packing, laundry, organizing what’s left behind, vaccinations, etc. etc…) With him off on his Big Adventure, I was at least able to re-claim my studio space which he had occupied since leaving school before the holidays.
Meanwhile, the younger has been in the throes of firming up her own collegiate plans. She is a scientist at heart. An explorer with a heart full of creative curiosity.
Thankfully, to begin her university studies, she won’t have to venture too far from home as she’s opted to attend The Ohio State University in the fall just up the lane in Columbus. Alas, I suppose this means we will remain mostly Ohio based for the time being. Though I could see some part time living here and there happening…. One can dream, yes?
This past weekend we took a tour of the science facilities at OSU and were thrilled with what we encountered! The Geology building featured my kind of architecture which felt very Old World and fraught with legend. Turns out that the gargoyles are all creatures that exist (or have in the past) in the Real World.
My favorite part of the day’s touring by far was the Insectary and Greenhouses. Here we encountered some awesome insects (and I mean awesome in the truest sense of the word). Below is one called Amblypygi which you may recognize from the movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The professor doing this part of the tour called me ‘The Brave One’ for opting to hold any creature available. This next one is a Blonde Arizona tarantula. In spite of her rather intimidating visage, she was really quite sweet. I have always thought of tarantulas as the Labrador retrievers of the arachnid world. When the kids were growing up we would sometimes visit our long-time veterinarian and friend Dr. Jeff Werwa for a ‘backstage tour’ where he would show us some of his more interesting pets. One of them was ‘Betty’, his beloved tarantula who eventually died of old age. She was as big as a dinner plate by then which made this little lovely seem like just a tiny wee thing. On the very top floor of this building there was a lovely greenhouse where plant scientists grow a huge variety of plants for their research. In spite of single digit temperatures and gale force winds outside of doors, it was warm and moist inside. It reminded me of our local Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati where my fellow intrepid sketchers Vanessa and Christina and I go to draw, especially when the weather is poor. We did just that last week in spite of all there is to do in our work and with our families. It is good to take a few hours and sketch together quietly when we can.
The first sketch I did was of a stone sculpture of a monkey hidden in the greenery near a large philodendron. Vanessa drew the same plant at a different angle which you can see in her post with her sketches. I love to draw at Krohn. There are so many little magic spots that are like little worlds in themselves. In some of the darker, more hidden corners there are sweet little lights which give some ambiance to the underbrush….I have sketched at Krohn a lot over the years, often with Christina and Vanessa, and we always come away refreshed from the lovely humidity and the life giving feeling of being near such beautiful, well cared for living creatures. This time of year these places are even more precious and I am thrilled that my Madeleine will have a place to soak up sunshine, humidity and plant life on a cold winter’s day next year at University.
I’ll leave you here with a few of my older sketches below. There will be more sketching at Krohn, I’m certain. If you see us there, do say hello and see what we are up to in our books. Or perhaps, bring your own sketchbook to this jewel in the crown of our fair Queen City. It’s a great way to really see this magical place.