A while back, when I was in the middle of a photography course run by my friend and ace photographer, Jeff Anderson, he posted a gorgeous photo of a little bluebird. It was earlier on in the year and he’d commented that this was the first one he’d seen this year- surely the sign of the coming of better weather and with it, of course, a return to the plenteousness of Summer. It was a dear little picture of a cherubic and innocent-looking young blue bird. I loved it straight away.
You see, here in good ol’ Blighty we have many wondrous and magnificent manifestations of all that Mother Nature has to offer, from red squirrels to badgers and water voles to barn owls; for a brief glimpse of some of these creatures have a look at this British Wildlife Centre video, it is worth a visit! But one of the creatures that I don’t think we see much of over here is the bluebird. This, I’ve discovered (thanks to Google of course!) from the National Geographic website is because they only live in North America. Well, that WOULD explain it of course!
So, when Jeff was expounding the virtues of this cheerful and gorgeously colourful little chap, most notably as the harbinger of Spring, after what has been one of the longest, coldest, wettest and generally miserable winters since Time began (or for at least the last five years!) and even though he appeared many thousands of miles from where I live, I too was greatly cheered by his presence.
I asked Jeff if he was OK with me using the image he had posted as a model for a water-colour painting I intended to create, to illustrate a haiku about the Bluebird of Happiness – which is all I really knew about bluebirds at the time. I realised that I don’t actually know very much about them at all, except that bluebirds were always considered to be omens of good fortune and happiness by Native Americans in particular, and that there are many cultural references to bluebirds all over the world as heralds of happy times. Some time ago, my FAB hubby gave me a small glass bluebird, promising that there would always be happy times ahead of us. Intrigued and inspired to include a haiku about bluebirds in my forthcoming collection of colour haiku poetry, I dug a little deeper. I found this wonderful poem;
The Bluebird of Happiness, by George J. Carroll
“And in the valley
Beneath the mountains of my youth,
Lies the river of my tears.
As it wends its way to the ocean of my dreams,
So long ago they have gone.
And yet, if I were but to think anew,
Would these dreams evaporate in my mind
And become the morning dew upon a supple rose
Whose beauty is enhanced with these glistening drops,
As the sun of life peeks o’er the mountains
When youth was full.
Then I must not supply this endless fountain
That creates the river of my tears
But look beyond those mountains
Where the bluebird of happiness flies.”
Now of course I know all there is to know, having read the information on the Nat. Geo. website – I am a certifiable expert now less, surely!
Jeff agreed to let me use his picture and I’ve been attempting to do any kind of justice to drawing the bird for about two months now. The picture below is the fourth attempt and I cannot decide whether to start again and just go straight to painting this time or whether to add water to this picture – sketched using water-colour pencils.
And then, I’ll still have to write a haiku too!