Whiskey Jack

Sometime ago, under the title “Art in the name of Love” were a series of pieces executed in response to sturdy number of my husbands requests. “Just a little something” in each occasion to embellish some speaking engagement or another as a visual aide.

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Currently, the dear fellow has retired from his teaching career, originally a classroom teacher, then principal, senior administrator and for the last decade or so, professor of education at Mount Saint Vincent University. Also currently, he is winding up the workload that will soon earn him a Masters in Divinity. He is already an ordained Anglican minister.

Right this minute he is off in the north for a whole month conducting research for his final grad project. Living and ministering in a new culture, he is enveloped in a community rich in the spirituality of Mother Earth with a people who are enmeshed in the fabric of the land, the rivers and the creatures who abide with them. The couple who have opened their home to him also cherish the wildness around them. In particular they have a fondness for this brazen fellow. He has many names, Cat Jay, Canada Jay, Grey Jay, Robber Bird and Whiskey Jack.DSC08050

When Mike emailed a few days back there was, of course a small favor. Though he asked of me a small sketch, I am presently so entrenched in felting that I chose to execute his request in wool. The resulting charming little fellow has been all over the place for a whirlwind photo shoot that I might share him with you.

Whiskey Jack is the Anglicized version of “Wisakedjak”, the trickster god in Anishinaabe mythology. A quick “Google” informed me that The Cree call him “Wesakachak”. He is the trickster hero of the boreal forest people.  Along with the otter, the beaver and the muskrat he is said to have  a hand in shaping the world as we know it. Wesakachak, we were warned, will flatter and deceive. He is not always to be trusted.

DSC08039 I had oodles of fun posing him as though he was real. The world is full of color, and if he were real he might have feasted on the juniper berries, the barberry hips and the deciduous holly that I plopped him in, he even had a shot with the only apple in Gramps’s apple tree! Tomorrow I will wrap him up and address him and Canada post will carry him cross country. I hope he reaches his new family before Michael bids them farewell to fly home on the 5th of November.

When I was younger, we enjoyed a cottage on a lake nearby for several years. It was so common to see flocks of these fellows as we swam and fished and hiked that lake. They were real moochers if you were carrying food of any kind. These curious and brazen birds would plop down on the picnic table in the middle of lunch and help themselves to whatever was on the menu. Do you know that cottage is only 10 miles away but here in our yard, where I feed all the wild birds daily, I have never once clapped eyes on a Whiskey Jack.

imagesMXEFUQUMI remember how easy it was to befriend them, how brave and fearless they would be as they landed  nearby their shiny bright eyes fixed on whatever they were about to steal from your hand. The gentleman Mike is staying with says he can place cheese in his mouth and the jay will light on his shoulder and take it right from his lips. Perhaps I will “Google” again, discover how they might be tempted and hope to lure them to my feeders and plantings. In the meantime, perhaps I will create another to make me chuckle while I wait and hope for the day I see the real thing once again.



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