A Murmuration of Starlings
One of my duties as resident artist at The Bishop’s Ranch is to come up with logo’s each year to illustrate the annul fund theme. This year the Ranch Chaplin and summer camp director teamed up with the advancement committee to come up with a theme that would weave throughout the year. I was asked to come up with two logos that relate to each other, one for summer camps and one for fund raising. The theme is Creation Speaks with the tag line Join the Conversation added for the fund raising piece. At first I was stymied, nothing was coming to me, but a look to the crisp December skies offered me my inspiration. It’s that time of year again; the starlings are flying in great spiraling swarms above the vineyards. It is truly a splendid sight. The congregation flies together, bunching and releasing like a single breathing monster or angel or god. Sometimes a hawk meanders in their midst and it isn’t clear if it is the hunter or the hunted when it is winging among this vast rabble, I suspect it is a perilous pursuit. Seeing the starlings again in their wondrous dance reminded me once again of the rhythm of the earth, the animals and the plants flowing through their lives as best they can within the constraints we humans have presented them. It seems the starlings have done well with our intervention. The Acclimatization Society released some hundred starlings in New York’s Central Park in 1890 and they easily raced across the continent in a little over 50 years. This invasive species has as strong a foothold here as the invasive species that introduced them, us. So we might as well enjoy their acrobatics and marvel at their garrulous conversation as they convene in the bare walnuts and oaks that ring the valley. They chatter endlessly leaving me to wonder at their exchange. Each animal group has been given a designation (when and by whom is long lost) such as the most common flock of geese and of course the loquacious starlings of which we speak are designated murmuration of starlings. Others include parliament of owls, congregation of plovers, scold of jays, exultation of skylarks and my favorite a murder of crows. What are we humans? At our best, I suppose, we are a symphony of humans or perhaps a celebration of humans more often an invasion of humans would be a fitting moniker or at our worst even a plague of humans but ‘tis the season and what better time to listen to the angels of our better nature? Let us be a humbling of humans may we look to nature as our guide and conduit to something bigger than ourselves, listen, reflect, respond; let the conversation begin!
PS. My last art and Jewelry sale is tomorrow in Healdsburg CA, 10am-4pm at 314 Center street up the stairs between Mr. Moons and Snow Bunny, right on the plaza. Hope you locals can stop by.