Friday, April 13, 2012

Jill's Barn (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.) Sold

11 April finds me sitting on Jill's back steps on Concession 6 north of Hanover, Ontario, painting her barn. The sun and clouds are chasing each other and the dark wet streaks on the barn are drying after yesterday's snow and rain. The Turkey Vultures have returned from wherever they'd been during the past few days of cold wind. Perched on the ridge of the barn, the great birds seem to diminish the grand dimensions of this magnificent barn. The broad flat face of the barn imposes on the back yard a grand old outdoors indooors space of 13 x 20 metres. Its sheer size of its aspect dwarfs the foot-wide boards, weathered grey and shrunken just enough to let thin slivers of light through, as if the old barn were slowly but surely becoming more a part of the sky than the earth. But still held down by the stones of its foundation - square and dark on the west end and of various sizes, colours and shapes on the east end, In the middle, the lawn sweeps up to the massive sliding doors This barn was built in 1904. Like a mountainside, the sun tells time upon its sides.

13 April brings excitement among the Vultures. At first six of them are sitting in a row, spaced exactly five Vulture-widths apart. Then one slowly sidles close to its neighbour and crouches. They eye each other at close range, and after many long minutes of subtle adjustments in posture, rise up at each other like crazy black blankets. One re-settles in its place on the ridge, and the other finds itself scrambling on the steep slope of the roof and then takes to the air, circling past the corner of the barn and rising up to settle at the end of the row of its fellows. One pair seems to be establishing their territory inside the barn, flying in at a window in the loft. Perhaps the others are establishing a pecking order just in case the first pair decide to leave.

Here are four of them, stretching to bask. Turkey Vultures have been increasing in Canada over the past few decades, and we now see groups of birds rather than just individuals. We often see them flying up from roadkills, which are a major food source for them. As more of our roads become paved and vehicles drive faster, there is a higher incidence of road mortality.


  1. That barn is huge, Aleta. Wow! And the vulture-ballet story and photo are great. I really enjoyed this.

  2. O to be Cathartes aura
    Soaring o'er the Mixedwood Plain
    O, to scan the fields and roadsides
    For the smashed and for the slain!

  3. Hi Aleta,
    I really like Jill's Barn painting!! It reminds me so much of the barn at my parents' place in Gravel Hill. It could almost pass for their's! The stone foundation, earthen ramp, barn boards, all very similar. The colours and tone are very reminiscent of the cloudy days on the farm from my childhood.

    Naomi Langlois

  4. a link to the awesome Cathartes cartoon -


What do you think of this painting, and what do you know about the subject that I have painted?