This holiday season found me doing some store decorations for the local grocery chain(s) of Byerly's & Lunds as well as delivering packages for UPS here in my (new) rural neighborhood. The latter being to stay busy and make a little money while waiting for my new position at Triton Printing to commence, a position for which I interviewed, and accepted prior to Christmas.
For those who are unaware, I recently moved to a small town just west of the Twin Cities, about where silos begin to outnumber cell towers and train whistles narrowly trump jet noise in the prevailing soundscape. It's a mix of small towns, a few of which were in my territory, and miles and miles of rural routes, farmsteads, horse ranches and just people living a quiet life in the country.
As it turns out, delivering parcels is an unrivalled means of familiarizing one's self with an area, the people who reside there and their lifestyles. The days were very long and very cold but punctuated with interesting sights and events. I regret not having the time to stop and photograph the many beautiful and unexpected things I encountered on my route but many linger on my mind, inspiring thoughts and perhaps ideas for future artwork.
Foremost amongst those being the candid and often repeated daily peeks at the local wildlife. From a flock of wild turkey meandering a majestic stand of ancient Black Walnut trees to cresting a hill on a farm drive at dusk to behold a dozen whitetail deer gathering on the road to benefit the remaining heat from the sun's shortened winter arc. Late one afternoon I saw a string of four coyotes trotting the tree line, noses down, between a dense forest and a horse pasture. So surprised was I by them that my first thought was to wonder how so many dogs could look so absolutely identical to one another. They vanished immediately, magically, into the woods that shared their exact hues.
Dogs were an interesting condition of the job, and one I hadn't fully considered upon accepting it. Most farm dogs were enthused by my quick visits. Happy to take a break from lazily watching horses or dairy cattle to greet an infrequent visitor to their realm. In an environment and job wrought with cold, few things warmed my heart like the wagging tails and friendly gestures of a friendly farm dog. My favorite was a rather rotund Black Lab mix at an isolated Orchard Road home near Waconia. At first glance, with scale aside, he looked like a Black Bear in a rocking gallop heading down the long drive to greet me. By far the friendliest dog I met. I was disappointed that I did not have another delivery to his house other than the one the day I met him. At another country home, the dog was so mean spirited, I was advised by our dispatch to stay on the package car, open the door slightly and simply throw the delivery towards the garage. I was amused to learn later that it was dog food I was delivering there. I learned to carry an extra package with me up to the doors of some places, something of significant size and length to hold between myself and any unruly dogs rather than returning to the vehicle empty handed. The need for this was rare but prudent and comforting when it did arise.
All in all it was quite worthwhile, taking on this rather obscure temporary work. The people I met and the things I learned made the experience one I am the better for.
I recently began my work at Triton Printing in nearby Eden Prairie. It is unfolding into everything I'd hoped it would be, and then some. The owners are great guys, as are my co-workers and the working relationship is one of complete equity and balance. I bring a ton of artistic ability to them as well as welcome creative problem solving and mechanical (maintenance) ability and they're offering me a golden opportunity to learn some equipment and processes I've always wanted to undertake and master. I should also be able to do accomplish some very high quality printing of my artwork. Down the road their plan includes expansion into conceiving and producing some three dimensional works, animatronics and props for trade shows, film, television and theatre. Some very fun stuff for us artsy types.
Well, there's a long overdue update. More soon if I'm so moved and can find the time. My internal clock is beginning to notice the gradually lengthening daylight and I'm feeling more energetic than I have in weeks. I hope my artist friends around the world are all well and happy and having fun continuing with business of the creation of our world.