Saturday, 1 August 2015


Sometime ago I was leafing through a magazine and came across a photograph of a small waterfall flowing into a pond creating a ripple effect. I began to think about the ripple in the water and how, when it reached the bank at the other side of the pond it would transfer its energy to the bank, and that energy, albeit not large, would travel through the ground and perhaps disturb the soil, causing the slightest shift in the earth, which compounded by the energy from previous ripples, would cause the earth to move slightly loosening the roots of a tree and cause the tree to fall years later displacing a volume of air that ultimately would be responsible for creating a storm thousands of miles from the pond, which by this time had dried up and become overgrown with plant life.

Impossible you say, well tell that to Isaac Newton whose Third Law tells us that “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”.  Actually, I find Newton’s Third Law quite amazing, and mention to anyone who feels that they’ve accomplished very little in life that the mere fact that they’ve brushed up against someone in passing, or even said hello with a smile, has joined in something akin to perpetual motion, perhaps even been responsible for changing our world’s history.

By the way of an example I want to tell you about Anne. It was long ago, so long ago in fact that I’ve forgotten her surname. All that I can remember is that she was a spinster I believe, with a love of nature, and in particular songbirds, birds of every kind for that matter. Anne was a member of the local naturalist group.

I was at a low point in my business career having become a bit of a workaholic, and spending little time enjoying the good things in life. Sandra, my wife, read about a naturalist outing and suggested that I put aside my files for a bit, at least long enough to join the group in a birdwatching outing. I reluctantly agreed to go. Come the day of the outing it was your typical early spring day, cold, windy, and threatening rain.  We travelled into town and caught up with the group. A somewhat strange man, a Christian minister apparently ministering to a small country church with an equally small number of parishioners located some where to the south of town, was declared the group’s leader. We were all to follow caravan style to various birding sites off in the country. We set out following the minister who drove in an erratic manner, speeding up and slowing down every time he saw a bird of some interest. From time to time he’d slam on his brakes and stop dead in the middle of the road, then jump out of his car leaving the door open waving his arms madly at something across the field, or in a ditch. Everyone following did the same. That there was no traffic accident was a miracle. Of course, there were a few horns honked and a few not so kind words hurled from passing cars that weren’t a part of the caravan. Bird identified everyone returned to their vehicles, and we head off once again, only to repeat the exercise a few minutes later.

At one of the stops I held back, and lit up a cigarette. Yes, I smoked back then. A disgusting habit, I know. So anyway, going on with my story. It was cold, and I hadn’t dressed properly, and I was becoming bored. Besides, I didn’t have a pair of binoculars and couldn’t properly observe the birds that everyone was pointing at. To me they were just specks off in the distance. And then, this elderly lady came up to me and offered me her binoculars pointing to a small bird a short distance away in the ditch. I thanked her and looked through the binoculars, and focused upon the bird of interest. I was blown away. Now, I’ve always had an interest in nature having grown up in Midland near to Georgian Bay with its wind shaped pines and thousands of islands, but I’d never really taken interest in the various bird species other than the ones that were hunted for the pot. The bird, I was told was a White-throated Sparrow, and the brown speck as it appeared from a distance suddenly took on colour, and a personality that would win me over and turn me into an avid bird watcher, and an artist-naturalist.

The elderly lady was, of course Anne. I’d see her often at naturalist meetings, and the one day she was gone, and I went on to encourage others to preserve and protect our natural heritage. So you see, Anne’s seemingly insignificant action resulted in, we might say, an opposite reaction affecting the lives of many persons, a chain reaction that may continue for a long, long, time. At least that’s what I hope.

White-throated Sparrow   Pencil & Watercolour Study

Drake Wood Duck  Monochromatic Watercolour Study for Etching

Black-capped Chickadee on Pine  Pencil & Watercolour Study

Red-breasted Nuthatch     Pencil Drawing

Barn Swallow   Pencil Study

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