Let us Prey

Long ago, Denise and I lived in a little cul-de-sac just off of Chambers Street in west Eugene. The nearest grocery store was a Waremart (since become Winco) just six blocks away on West 11th. They were cheaper than Albertson's, the other nearby choice, and we were poor (though not starving) artists, so they had our weekly custom.

I don't remember what the building looked like--it's long since been converted into office space--but I remember the parking lot, because it was surrounded by a hedge of some sort of dwarf bamboo, trimmed to about elbow height.

About this time of the year, the plants had gone to straw gold, and I stopped to admire the effect, when a leaf moved. At a closer look, it wasn't a leaf at all. It was a Praying Mantis. There were actually dozens of them, the size of my hand, the exact shade of gold as the bamboo leaves, which their wings resembled. I'd never seen one before, and wouldn't see another for over twenty years.

Last October, we decided to celebrate my birthday--and the lack of a Clay Fest to stress about--with a trip out of town. We didn't go far, just out to Richardson Park, across the highway from Fern Ridge Reservoir. I used to stop there sometimes, coming back from delivering hummingbird feeders to Slippery Bank Pottery.

They've expanded the park considerably since then, added a bunch of paved paths that we had a lovely time exploring, trying to identify the plants and trees (mostly so we wouldn't touch the poison oak). We were just on the last leg, returning to the car, when we spotted it. An emerald green praying mantis, right in the middle of the path. Its dukes were up in a "fight me, bro" pose, and the afternoon sun cast the most amazing shadow. I took a picture, of course. Drew it in my sketchbook. And eventually, decided I had to try it on pottery.

I've only done dessert plates so far, and only a few, but they sell almost immediately. I'll have to try them on something else.

But what, pray tell?