(Animal Habitats series)
18″ x 24″ ink, pencil & paint on paper. 2014.
My Anima series explores the shape and form of nature in the Pacific Northwest. Here the wild wolves of western BC Canada are re-imagined as the coastal islands in which they live.
My first wolf encounter memory: Wait. There’s something moving along the top of that nearest rock/island. It’s some kind of animal. Oh. Is it a bird? It’s cresting the top of the hill from the other side, becoming larger, coming into full view. Is it a river otter? No. I squint. Is it a seal? No. It has four legs now. What is that? I’ve only just arrived to this remote homestead 2 days previous and haven’t yet learned the lay of the land, plants or animals here. A fox? A dog? It’s definitely some kind of canine I decide as it turns in profile and comes into full view, silhouetted by the sun. It shakes itself off. Huh. It must have swam over from the other island.
The young king-of-the-hill proudly struts around his new territory, sniffing various spots this side of the rock for I don’t know what. He tries to creep up on a resting gull at the water’s edge, snapping his jaws in it’s general direction, but he’s much too young and clumsy. Judging by his movements, this fox-dog is teenager-aged. The gull is onto him and easily flies away.
Now bored, the dog jumps into the water, swimming towards me. We’re about 300 feet away from one another. Is this a wild dog, or a domesticated one? I don’t want to find out. I stand up. The fox-dog-thing simultaneously changes course to paddle onto the beach 200 feet to my left, just where the cliffs begin. He shakes off, watching me. He sniffs the ground, feining indifference. Typical teenager. One more glance in my direction, and he disappears into the woods.
“Hey, I saw a black fox, or a dog, on the beach yesterday.” The gardener who hiked in for the day to work the grounds stops what she’s doing to give me her complete attention. “Well we don’t have foxes.” We’re both silent for a minute. “I think what you saw was a wolf. And that’s pretty rare to see one, especially during daylight hours.”