Wildlife Count by Debbie O'Rourke: Humber Bay Park East, Toronto

Day 3, May 13: While I carve, a light honking makes me turn my head. It's a swan flying. The sound isn't vocalizing but the air protesting as the great wings shove the birds weight through it. The long neck, as thick as my arm, bobs slowly in rhythm with flapping wings. An image of the swan seems to appear on the side of the log but I'm not sure it's a good idea to record flying things in that way so I wait.

Deb O'Rourke carving on site, Humber Bay lakeshore, May 2002: color photo

One of the dog-walkers very civilly challenges me on the idea of carving the log. At this early stage it's hard to distinguish art from vandalism. She lets me know how much these pieces of driftwood are valued, and she's relieved that it will not be carted away to a museum but will remain on site. While we talk, behind her a flock of about fifty cormorants is threading about the sky.
I share some of my visitor's doubts, but a designer learns to persist until the end result tells the story, for better or worse. This is definitely a test. I tell her that if the results are invasive, I won't persist with this kind of work. The log itself is cooperating. It keeps coming up with images and though it isn't very soft, the ergonomics for carving are unusually good. The rocks around it are in exactly the right places for putting my feet and tools. It's easy to sit astride the beast, or to lean against it.

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