Friday, September 9, 2011

Fieldwork Friday: In absentia

Well, I'm not exactly in the field today... I'm all gussied up and attending the opening of Birds in Art. No grubby field pants and sneakers for me. I actually went out and bought a new dress!

My walk on the dressy side doesn't mean I've abandoned Fieldwork Friday, however. Here's another drawing from Yellowstone, which of course comes with a story.

I was sitting on the fallen tree to which this twisted branch was attached... down along the lakeshore, across a small meadow from the Lake Lodge deck. We had seen bison in this meadow previously, but on this particular morning they appeared to have wandered off somewhere else.

I'd been perched here for some time, engrossed in the drawing, when suddenly I became aware of a semi-familiar sound. It was a sort of rhythmic Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh. Not unlike the stout breathing of bison at close range.

In a micro-second I felt the panicked rush of adrenaline: "Oh, (insert expletive here)... Did bison sneak up on me while I was focused on drawing?" I looked around frantically.... but saw no enormous brown creatures. The sound persisted. What the...?

And then I discovered the source. My seat was just above the water's edge, and a fast-moving motorboat was cruising just beyond. Its wake created small waves that rushed up through the gravel along the shore: Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh.

Once my heart stopped pounding I had a good chuckle. There's probably some clever anecdote in this about not being able to see the bison for the tree, although I can't come up with it at the moment.

Still, it was a good reminder that working in the field requires one to practice a sort of observational-multi-tasking. Pay attention while you're paying attention, eh?


  1. Seat of your pants Fieldwork Friday, eh? You're not trying to buffalo us with that story, are you?

  2. Love the story! Richard wants to tell you about the times he used to sit on the banks of the Mississippi River downstream from New Orleans and the wake of some huge ship would create those little waves that washed up by his feet, and after a while he'd look up and realize that there was a tanker going by half a mile away. (No bison though!)

  3. Oh, you kids!

    E, if you haven't yet figured out that I spend most of my life flying by the seat of my pants, you are not paying attention.

    S and R... Looking forward to Mississippi River stories... and perhaps a few PNW coastal adventures, too. Hope you're having a fine time!


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