It was twenty-some years ago. We were visiting Denise's parents in Brookfield, and my brother and his family had moved out of Chicago to rural southeast Wisconsin, about thirty miles away. We hadn't seen them since our wedding, so we made arrangements to meet David and my nephew Joey (mom had to work) at the Milwaukee Zoo.
This was back when I first started taking my watercolor sketchbook with me. I have some great drawings from that day, particularly of a mother gorilla and her baby that you can see on Denise's cards. But I just couldn't get a sketch of a peacock.
They weren't caged, or enclosed, or anything, just wandering free around the grounds, rather like the Jungle Fowl up at the Portland Zoo here in Oregon. They weren't particularly skittish, would let you get fairly close... unless you were an energetic three-year-old.
Joey was fascinated by the peacock. It was so sparkly, and blue, and though the tail was only about half grown out, it was impressive. And he wanted to pet it. I think it was teasing him, as it never went far, but always managed to stay just out of reach. And of course never held one pose long enough for me to get it on paper.
Finally, it was time to say goodbye. Joey was pooped, David had to head home and get ready for work, so we said our farewell by the exit, and plopped down on a bench to rest a little before heading for our own car.
And the peacock came over and sat on the gravel next to us.
So I finally got my sketch, watercolored him in, and even featured him on another of Denise's cards. But I didn't think to try peacocks on pottery until last year, when I painted one all the way around a large cookie jar. I've since painted them on serving bowls, baking dishes, even the occasional tall mug. I've yet to try one with a fully open tail display, though.
I'm just not a big fan.