Above: Page spread from my "Urban Journal" made with Stonehenge paper for text, with a wrapped paper cover. The journal is approx. 8 inches square. Verso Page—woman texting on the train on our return trip. Recto Page—sketches of geese at East River Flats on my walk home. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
Saturday I taught "Urban Journaling" at MCBA. We made a journal as described above and then the six students and I went off on the train to the Mall of America for some urban sketching on the train and at the mall.
The group of six was great fun, and they all worked hard and came up with some fantastic sketches which since I don't have a pocket scanner I can't show you, but maybe I can convince them to post at a later date.
When we returned to MCBA at 5 p.m., because I had been working and on my feet since 7 a.m. I thought it would be a great idea to walk home, across campus (the University of Minnesota). I tend to be a walker, but didn't really think about the distance. And I could have taken a bus to within a few blocks of home. But walking seemed a good plan. It was overcast and about 40 degrees. A bit breezy, but pleasant to stretch the legs after running about in class helping students, or standing at the Mall and sketching. (I also stood on the train going down to the Mall, and discovered if I loop my left arm around one of the gripping poles I can sketch just fine without falling into someone!)
The return ride was the most fun for me. I got a seat immediately and it wasn't so crowded. I spotted a young woman with her face buried down into the high collar of her voluminous jacket (which seemed a bit out of season for me but she probably left home in the morning when it was much cooler) texting! I knew she wouldn't be moving much. I had an opportunity to start to get used to the jerkiness of the train—it's actually a pretty smooth ride in some respects, it's just that there are occasional jerks and jolts which are bothersome when you are trying to draw a line of certain aspect.
My reward for the day of work came on the walk home when I elected to walk down East River Road from the Washington Ave. Bridge. The geese are making a come back but it is still sad not to see my friends. I stood at the entrance to the park and the geese were across the road on the hill top, unconcerned with my presence. I stood and sketched them for about 25 minutes. Watching, smiling, trying to catch certain movements or shapes. This activity is so incredibly fun that I can't write about it without sounding loopy.
Finally my fingers were getting a bit cold so I put my journal in the Ziplock bag I was carrying it in. (It was supposed to rain today so I brought Ziplock bags for each student in case it was raining on the way to and from the train station and they didn't have a bag big enough to hold their journals.) At the sound of the "zip" two geese put up their heads and started to walk towards me, closing the 20 foot distance with more curiosity than caution. One stood 3 feet away and started pecking shyly at the grass. The other came right up to me and stood about 12 inches away, looking up expectantly. (I think they associated the sound with picnic diners feeding them.) To stand so close to a wild bird, with the bright eye watching you—it always takes my breath away. I couldn't get my journal back out without startling them. I just stood, watched, and noted mentally the way their eyes and beaks and heads and everything attached, and of course noted the lovely plumpness that is "goose."
After about 5 minutes there was a low honking and over the hill came a large goose who didn't look too happy. The two geese with me, took off away from me at an angle, avoiding the new goose and rejoining their flock. The new goose charged across the road at me, hissing and stopping mid-way to stare intently at me. When I didn't move and simply stood calmly, he shook himself and started to feed, which was funny because he was on tarmac and obviously it was simply a gesture to transition back to his flock, which he did. And they all moved off the hilltop and out of view. And I walked the rest of the way home happy to have had a great group of students who made beautiful books, a fun excursion on the train to the Mall of America, and 35 minutes of great fun with the geese. Pretty much a perfect day, even though it hadn't involved any chocolate.
Note: I'll be posting photos of the books we made on my blog, Roz Wound Up, tomorrow if you want to see the actual books we made.