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Back to Nature
18" x 24"
Hardy Ecke
fter nine years working at night time 24/7 in my own
barrel-shaped cellar bar, I felt like the Count of Monte Cristo to be released to the daylight from that darkness and smoke.
I am pleasantly startled and embraced by the flora and fauna in the clean mountains of North Carolina.
After nearly stumbling over a female black bear, finding boxturtles creeping up and down the mountain, seeing blacksnakes and copperheads crossing my path, having three species of woodpeckers laboring in the trees around me, enjoying hummingsbirds with buzzing acrobatics daringly close to my head, wondering to fireflies illuminating the nights with sparkling fireworks, and taking in a kaleidoscope of colored songbirds led by the red cardinal lighting on the porch, cause me to feel like a park ranger.
Naturally, there is also a "down-side" to report
Sadly, one generation ago the locals could keep racoons as pets. now these night creatures are the foremost carrier of rabies. Furthermore, the coyotes are invading the settled areas and infrequently are found in yards abducting small pets as prey.
Though we indentify the venomous copperhead snake as an excellent rodent killer, it is not comforting to find one in the immediate surroundings of the studio.
Adults who are bitten and have rapid treatment have gained a painful life experience, but children and pets may be in serious danger from the copperhead bite. Up until now I have seen three such snakes without being bitten.
Fieldmice are plentiful here, but I do not see rats.
Grey squirrels are a plague like rats, but are much cuter. I must admit that the numbers of squirrels here are not as troublesome as in other parts of the United States and Canada.
Opossums are seldom seen waddling across my path. They are more frequently found flat on the road.
Groundhogs are more clever. Though they live adjacent to streets and highways, they cleverly avoid speeding cars.
I have been aware that I am mesmerizing to animals. This belief was reinforced when a Carolina wren landed on my boot while I was on the porch having a look into the valley, and was unimpressed even when I said to him: "
Are you nuts? I'm not a tree!"
My calls for rescue from this fearless wren were only echoed but unheard by others. This was when the painting's title Back to nature! was conceived.
Here I return to depicting my workboots in a painting as I did in 1995.