Friday, May 16, 2014

Fieldwork Friday: Of pigs and endangered species

A trip to Colorado Springs was in order yesterday, and while there I popped in at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo to spend a little quality time with my sketchbook. Hadn't anticipated also spending quality time with 400 middle school students participating in Endangered Species Day.

Near as I could tell, this meant a sort of "science-fair-meets-field-trip" scenario in which students and their science-fair posters of information were stationed in front of animal exhibits throughout the zoo.

A nice idea... kids teaching kids... with their classmates receiving a stamp or sticker or some such indication that they had visited the various stations. But during what was probably the last (or second-to-last) week of school? Yeah. Mayhem. So I hid in what semi-quiet corners I could find until they all magically vanished back to school after lunch. Phew!

I don't find mayhem particularly conducive to drawing, but at least I did alright when I could commune with Aloiscious, "Call me Al," the King of Calm Within the Storm. You probably think you know what species he is, but I assure you that he was most emphatically identified by an adult woman as a Vietnamese Portabello Pig. Al certainly exhibits the enthusiasm of a mushroom, although I have it on good authority that he despises wet earth.

Some time later I got to dust off my tried-and-true cake-baking retort. This time the culprit was a somewhat senior-aged man who stood behind me and watched me drag pencil across paper for a while before asking, "What are you doing? Sketching?"

To which I naturally replied, "No. I am baking a cake."

To which he responded, "Oh," and then, "What?" while his wife chuckled quietly next to him. 

I relented. (sigh)

"Yes, I am sketching."

"What, THAT?" queried Mr. Confused and Incredulous, as he pointed at the one and only collared lizard perched directly in front of me, striking the very pose Mr. C had just watched me put down on paper.

(Again sigh.) I refrained from saying, "No, I am drawing the elephant near the zoo entrance. I just thought I would sit in front of a lizard while I did so," but oooohhh... it was tempting.

Endangered Species Day? One can only hope.


  1. I feel for you, Sherrie.Just last week, while taking photos in Auckland Botanic Garden, someone asked if I was taking photos. ...
    Was Darwin right?

  2. In fairness, I did have some nice conversations with folks, too. I don't mind questions about why I''m drawing or how, but I do get frustrated with people who can't seem to sort out if, when I am clearly moving my pencil across the page.

    Unfortunately, mayhem-ridden days like this one don't put me in a patient mood. I'd have turned around and gone elsewhere as soon as I sorted out what was happening, but I'd paid a stout entrance fee and felt obliged to make the most of it.

    But the chuckles definitely came later, so I guess it was worth that, at least!

  3. *chuckles* people sometimes ask the most obvious stupid questions. at leat the wife got a laugh out of it :p

  4. Yes... I did have a sort of panicked moment when I thought I'd come across as rude, so the woman's laugh certainly helped. ;-)

  5. I like to believe that there are "no dumb questions" as many people may want to talk with artists about what they are doing except they have no notion of how to begin the conversation, so they ask the obvious.