The Australian Garden at the University of California Santa Cruz Arboretum has so much to offer, and while I was understandably blown away by the spectacular white hummingbird sighting, I thought I might share some of it’s other treasures…
Rare Leucistic Anna’s Hummingbird in the Grevillea.
Me in my official like birding outfit – meant to blend into the garden and attract hummers…worked!
Showy Honey Myrtle
The Rufous and Allen’s Hummingbirds look a lot alike, the Allen’s is supposed to have two white spots on its tail tips instead of three like the Rufous, but even knowing this it’s still hard to tell as the Allen’s does have a sliver of white on that third feather and both can have a substantial amount of green on their backs – especially the juveniles and the females.
Cooper’s Hawk fledglings
Actual buckeyes – (on a Black Tailed Deer)
I spent a perfect day with a white hummingbird – my new muse!
This Leucistic Hummingbird, visiting the Australian Gardens at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, may be the first sighting of its kind in Santa Cruz County! I’ve been scouring the web for more info and it seems there have been sightings in Santa Barbara as well. The Leucistic Humming bird (in this case most likely an Anna’s Hummingbird) retains some pigmentation (dark eyes, beak and legs and often there are traces of color in it’s plumage) where as a pure albino hummingbird would have a complete lack of pigmentation, it’s eyes, beak and legs appearing pink.
Seeing this hummingbird in the wild was pure magic and that’s saying something considering how impossibly beautiful a typically iridescent hummingbird is! This was like a little glowing fairy flitting in and out of the sunlight, but a fierce one who was robustly defending his territory from interlopers. I watched him ascend high in the sky to hover then dive balm the smaller Rufous and Allen’s hummers. I first spotted him in his his special perch in a spindly tree where he was perfectly camouflaged, looking like a leaf in the dappled sunlight (I could hear him singing before I saw him – which apparently is a one way of identifying an Anna’s). From here he could clearly survey his territory and would make his rounds visiting the various proteas in the garden favoring the Grevillea “Robyn Gordon” and the Hairpin and Showy Banksia but he also patrolled the conifers edging the arboretum – maybe looking for bugs and worms? Funny how this bird from the Americas is favoring the flowers from Down Under!
Out of the blue…
A spark in the dark…
Glowing in the garden…
Jody Alexander‘s Keep: Modern Library, on exhibit at the R. Blitzer Gallery in Santa Cruz, is a thoughtful and finely crafted transformation of the skins of vintage library books which have been withdrawn from circulation into textile inspired two and three dimensional art pieces that could only come out of an intimate knowledge and a deep understanding of our emotional attachment to these books as objects and our response to the ongoing process of their obsolescence.
The very “skinning” of the book covers seems to me a redemptive process, hanging on, not to the words and ideas of the books themselves, which may have become outdated or superfluous, but to the remnants of our collective physical experience of them, the bits of gilded fonts becoming abstract “art marks”, the texture and feel of the linen, the retro hues, faded and worn over time, stained with our handling – soil from our carelessness, oil from out fingers and maybe even our very DNA. These books have been stamped with the library’s own lexicon of call numbers, due dates and recommendations: KEEP, REQUIRES FURTHER CLEANING, DISCARD. Librarian’s knowledge.
Skins are incorporated into swaths of stained, stamped and elaborately stitched European linen, inspired by the symbols Alexander discovered in a library cataloging book (which acted as her muse throughout the project) and by the utilitarian Japanese technique of boro, or “rags”, where that which is ripped or damaged is mended to further it’s life.
In her talk and book, Keep, Alexander shares a quote from Kei Kawasaki that refers to the philosophy behind boro… “there is an old Japanese saying that you shouldn’t throw away any piece of cloth big enough to wrap three beans”.
Alexander’s process (which had even involved dragging some of her work through mud and lakes as farflung as Shakerag Hollow, Kyoto and Santa Cruz) results in sublime abstract textiles that practically breathe with new life. Beyond a tribute to their past as well loved library books, they have morphed into another artistic plane that somehow says something touching and meaningful about out better natures.
I can’t help but think of the metamorphosis of a butterfly, but where focus is on the cocoon that is shed and honored and transformed once more…
This last Saturday the Jody Alexander gave a talk about her work at the gallery to a large and engaged crowd (where I gained all this insight into her art and her process).
Empty dress hanger, Stack of vintage books, Alexander’s first textile book for Keep.
There’s a lovely, signed, limited edition book, Keep, inspired by the exhibit -10% of the sales from this book will be donated to the Santa Cruz Public Library for the acquisition of books for the children’s collection – that’s just how Rydell Award Recipient, Jody Alexander rolls! You can get yours at www.jalexbooks.com.
If you have to take a day off from the studio you’ve got to really make it count! My idea of a great day trip usually involves the ocean and since it’s October it might call for a pumpkin patch or two!
So, this was the autumn version of my go to get away. Hightail it to the coast. Pick a beach from my handful of favorites (in this case Shark’s Tooth). Hit a few farmer’s stands. (Rodoni’s Farms) Lunch at Whaler’s Bakery. Supper at Kelley’s Bakery. Browse some vintage or antique shops. (This was La Sirena’s Antique’s.) Bring home a pretty stone, a shell, a jar of honey or if you’re really lucky a pearl and starfish necklace to remind you of you’re get away. If you’re really, really lucky you”ll bring home some peace of mind.
The butterfly counts not months but moments and has time enough. – Tagore
We’re so lucky to be close to Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz where Monarchs overwinter. They arrive in October and stick around until February, nestled among sheltered coastal groves of eucalyptus.
Look closely, this vine is loaded with HUNDREDS of Monarchs.
On a cold day they will huddle together in masses with their wings closed looking like dried leaves or clusters of pinecones. On a warm day they will begin to flutter about, an enchanted grove of waking wings .
OK, so Maybe I can’t BE the butterfly, but I can be in the moment.
I can also resolve to plant some milkweed and support the protection of native habitats to help these inspiring creatures on their awesome migration. This bunch will lay the eggs that will hatch, turn into caterpillars, feed on milkweed, turn into the chrysalis that will develop into the Monarchs that will begin the first leg of the journey to the Rockies. Good luck to them all and may we see their great great great offspring next winter!