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Tribute To A Tough Year

2020 was a tough year. Although I've been fortunate throughout the pandemic and social upheaval of the past year, suffering and uncertainty and danger seemed present everywhere, every day. Certainly life changed in ways big and small.

Maybe that's why the passing of these innocent lives here at Nuthatch Knoll were so troubling that I wanted to paint something about them.

The young buck was shot by an arrow. I came across his body out in the woods behind our house. I'm afraid that he must have suffered considerably, as he was shot in the haunch and must have taken a long time to die. He was beautiful and strong, just coming into the prime of his life.

The fawn was hit by a motorcycle right in front of our house; my wife was waiting to pull out of our driveway and saw it happen. The motorcycle didn't even stop. Fortunately, the fawn was killed instantly. We carried its tiny body off the road to lay beneath a tree in a wooded area of our front yard.

The raccoon was living under our deck. It was pretty nocturnal; the only sign we ever saw of it were footprints and holes dug around the birdfeeders looking for tasty bugs. One morning we saw it dragging itself to the bird feeder, it's back half paralyzed. It likely had rabies or distemper. We called to have it trapped and euthanized so that it wouldn't have to starve to death in pain. My memory of it was trapped, frantically licking the tuna from the can used to bait it, agonizing if this was the right thing to do.

Witnessing suffering, knowing I'm playing a part. Wanting to honor and revere these lives that pass by right next to us, too often unnoticed, unconsidered. This year was marked by so many intense and complicated emotions: anger, sadness, tragedy, fear, injustice, helplessness. A lot of darkness and surrealness. And somehow, hope.

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