Night Watchman – 22 x 36
Vincent has returned…
But it started with this sketch drawn last summer
on the first night he showed up for duty…
Then came this “Study for Nightwatch”,
painted to keep the image fresh in my mind
and to play around with the light…
Once I got that worked out, I was ready to go…but…
You see I had to wait for the sunflower to grow up.
The back story of this bunny’s journey from early spring garden bed
to his position on studio night watch
was chronicled in the Painter’s Notes for the study.
I’ve copied them here for you to read…
but you already know the ending…
Painter’s Notes for Study for Nightwatch
You know that first warm sunny day
when you understand that winter has
at least one more round in her
but damnation you are going
to clean out a garden bed…any bed.
On just such a day last March
we both huddled in our warmest fleece,
Herself putting her boots up in the sky chair
and myself blowing the cobwebs off of my weeding bench,
we passed a lovely hour or two
warming old bones in the afternoon sun.
I was hoeing away happily
when I saw something odd.
Just under the drying stalks
of last year’s hyssop
was a layer of what looked like fur.
I often throw the leavings of Finn’s coat
after her weekly brushings
out into the garden
or on top of the nearest snowbank
during the coldest months
So that was my first guess.
Then the fur moved.
Woke Herself up actually…
and then she screamed.
Not ten minutes before
while I had been weeding the adjoining bed
I had said to Pat…
Now I’m going to be really careful because this is where
those bunnies were nesting last year.
So…the synapses fired up…
and much calmer now
I moved aside the covering layer of dry grasses
and peeked under the grey and white blanket of fur…
and sure enough
tiny baby bunnies
nestled in a hollow
the size of a teacup.
Oh the tenders
I had been hacking away
had I nicked one before the discovery ?
I tried my best to restore order to the nest
but I had removed almost all of the weedy
canopy that had made this new spot seem promising.
So, I added some leaves to the top
and found a wide wicker basket
and laid it over the nest
and offered up a prayer to mother nature for their souls
For the next two mornings I stood over the nest
and looked for signs of life.
Both times I saw the slightest rise and fall of the leaves
and the next day Kory came.
He’s helping me with the yard work and
as far as I can tell…so far
he has no fears.
Ok a slight shimmy in his step when he happens upon
a large spider…
but otherwise he’s a rock solid go to guy for wild animal taming.
Kory lifted the basket
and the leaves
and the fur
and sure enough
there were three living breathing bunnies
curled up in their teacup.
As anyone who knows me well
will tell you
they all got names.
Seeing as they were born in my herb bed
I dubbed them, Hyssop and Thyme and Vincent.
The last just in the case I had, accidentally mind you,
nicked one with the ancient Japanese weeding tool.
A few days later they were gone.
A week after that two of them jumped out of the way
of the string trimmer I was just about to swing along
the stone edging of the hydrangea bed.
Then, every afternoon for a month,
all three showed up at my new bird feeders,
which I have moved right outside of my easel window.
One of them kept lingering
later and later into the dusk
after siblings and squirrels
finches and doves
had long since gotten into their jammies
and been tucked into their beds.
On this night
as I was waiting for him
the sunset sent extra long low rays
through the bottom of the fence
and shooting across the tops of the grass.
And like that
the bunny hopped into that shaft of light
and stood completely still
keeping me company
as if he were on guard.
Then one of his ears twitched
and caught the fading light
and I saw the notch.
Now I am waiting for my sunflowers
to grow tall enough to pose
as the source of those angling rays
in the big portrait I want to paint…