“Western Caduceus” by Todd Powelson
About a month or so ago I was walking up the canyon at dusk watching this bird fly over my head. It wasn’t long before I lost sight of that bird ‘o prey through the tree canopy, and I just kept on a-walkin’. Soon I came to the same general spot where that bird disappeared from my view. I stopped at for a second in front of a big rock and, looking down, I saw a large grey and white feather sticking up in the grass. I tend to keep feathers when I find them and, even though I don’t know if its true or not, I imagined that this feather belonged to the bird I had been watching a few minutes before. So, yeah, I picked it up and carried it back with me a few miles back down the canyon.
Two nights later I was walking along the same path and came up to the same rock. Next to that rock the trail sorta splits, and I’d never been up one of the paths before. I decided that I’d see what was up that little side trail I’d never been up, but for some reason I started to think I should throw a rock or branch up there ahead of me. This isn’t something I ever do, but the thought just kinda pop’d into my head. There was a big pile of dead branches at the head of the new trail and… I don’t know. I guess I must have sensed something, because right while I was thinking of doing that this large rattlesnake came out from under those branches and started shake-shake-shaking its tail at me. I decided not to go up that new trail after-all and turned back down the canyon.
I’ve seen many rattlesnakes over the years and they don’t bother me all that much. I mean, when you go into Utah canyons you gotta know you may come across one any old time. Not that it is too common, but its always possible. And really, its not a huge deal. But for some reason I kept thinking about that snake. And about how I was gifted with a cool feather in that same spot I saw the snake. I just kept thinking about the bird, the snake, and me… all hanging out underneath the scrub-oak trees.
The snake, the bird, and the trees all kind of merged into one image in my minds eye and became the caduceus drawing above. I kept thinking about a western caduceus and the idea would’t leave me alone.
I had a couple false starts and do-overs, but I like where the artwork ended up. I actually finished this drawing a few weeks back, but sat on it because I wasn’t sure if it was… I don’t know. Sometimes I like to set my artwork aside for a bit and then look at it again later because that extra time might help me see things I might like to change a little more clearly.
Its a simplification, and of course I’m not the first to think it, but life really is a dream. Like any dream, there are certain creatures or encounters that seems to have extra special significance. The bird, snake and oak branches became an omen of some sort for me. Or a special symbol. I have no idea of what or why, but I do know I like them.
Speaking of dreams, I had a sleepy-time dream about the snake and bird a few nights after I saw them. The bird was flying overhead, and the snake was wrapping itself up my right arm, until its face was next to my face. I could even feel its breath on my face. It wasn’t really scary, but it was a strange dream.
Anyway, I decided to post this picture of my green man drawing below. I finished that right around the same time too…
“Green Man” by Todd Powelson