The Gila is a meandering river in it’s natural course, as beautiful as a river can be. It is one of the last free flowing rivers in the western U.S., originating in the Mogollon Mountains of the Gila Wilderness. It is over 600 miles long, a tributary of the Colorado River, flowing through New Mexico and Arizona.
This view of the Gila River is off the Turkey Creek Road, outside the town of Gila, and is my eighth painting of the river.
I began painting this last fall, then abandoning it at middle stages. Recently, it appealed to me again and I worked it, enjoying the distance, the direction of the river.
When the mountains are snow-peaked in the early spring and the yellow bladderpods bloom, this spot on a hilltop reminds me of the high-meadow in the Alps where, in the film, the family was escaping Austria. I can hear Julie Andrews singing when I am approaching the place from below. After the mountain snowmelt, the yellow wildflowers remain for a time, then fade away.
Sometimes I give Jack a snack, and he is encouraged by that small kindness to, on occasion, anticipate my pathway as I walk. He fluffs his feathers, croaking sweet love sounds. He perches in familiar spots, this weathered mesquite stump being a favored perch. Jack is a smart bird, willingly giving us space enough to make sure we are not overly frightened by his closeness. Yet he allows enough nearness when he poses and flexes his muscles for his next photoshoot, but most of the time he taps his large bill on his perch as an indication that he really is ready to get his treat.
Jack has a noble heart, loyal to his mate, “Honker”, and perfectly raven in all of his ways. We are a member of Jack’s murder, we love that he shares his territory with us.