Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Effigy Mounds

We recently got in a late autumn hike at the Effigy Mounds National Monument in north-eastern Iowa. I've wanted to visit for 17 years and the timing was right last Sunday. This 2,000 acre site sits right on the Mississippi, where river and delta seem as wide as the world. Early American Indians incorporated mound-building into their culture for almost 2000 years. Thousands have been lost to history, but this particular area features 31. The earthen mounds rise up from the woodland floor, some conical, some linear in shape, like dots and dashes. Some shaped like bears or birds. Many were used for burial, created one earth-filled basket at a time by a community of long ago Iowans.

As we made our way up the medium grade to the mounds, only the creaking of hickories, red oaks and basswood could be heard. That and the occasional call of a red-headed woodpecker. A carpet of leaves, golden brown, had fallen evenly on the ground. The entire woodland was dressed in a mellow light. The mounds themselves stood out from soft grassy areas. Beyond them, spectacular drops from the limestone ridges to the river valley below forced your mind to take in this sacred space.

I've been reading about reverence to nature lately, and how one practices it in small and big ways. You can't help but feel reverent in a place like this. I can't wait to see the mounds again in the other seasons. Go visit if you can.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Emily's words

I hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven.

--Emily Dickinson

Friday, November 19, 2010

The cycle of nature, reflected in library art activities

I did a presentation at the Iowa City Public Library last week. I shared a bit about the new book, and then the library had arranged some simple art projects for the kids to do afterward. One was making an owl mask. One was a cardinal bird magnet. One smart child really listened to my talk. His owl mask was portrayed eating his cardinal magnet!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Here's a favorite poem for this month. I've always wanted to illustrate it. I love the repetition. The poem was used as lyrics to a track on an Art of Noise album from the 1980's.

by Thomas Hood

No sun--no moon!
No morn--no noon!
No dawn--no dusk--
no proper time of day--
No sky--
no earthly view--
No distance looking blue--

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member--
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,

Monday, November 15, 2010

Haunted Happening

Thank you all who attended our triple Tallgrass author's book event Sunday at the Haunted Bookshop in Iowa City. We had a cozy crowd with a smattering of very engaged children. Cool! Nialle the owner has made this Indie book shop a wonderful place, complete with resident cats. It smells like Powells in Portland, so I feel at home!

Our three books can all be found online or in your local bookshops:

The Chiru of High Tibet by Jackie Briggs Martin
The Hanukkah Trike by Michelle Edwards
Where Do Birds Live? by Claudia McGehee

and if you are burning for a signature in any one of these titles, please let me know and I can make it happen!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Just as the goldfinches shred the last of our dried sunflower heads- it's on to the finch sack feeders now- I post an image of summer. Something to remind us of warmer days as we look out to a couple months of white ahead. This will be a new print on my Etsy site soon. I have a whole flock of new birds coming out. Tweet.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Haunted Bookshop Signing

Please join me and two of my picture book
author friends
Jackie Briggs Martin and
Michelle Edwards for a reading
& author signing at

The Haunted
203 North Linn Street
Iowa City, Iowa
(319) 337-2996

November 14th

We'll have a little talk, then refreshments-
-frosted cakes, and other treats- including Lucy's sugar cookies (oh yeah)
will be available after.

Getting closer...

Finished the black and white image- now to paint tomorrow.

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