Monday, May 30, 2011

Pond Warriors~~A Short Story and a Painting by Cindy Morawski

Pond Warriors
by Cindy Morawski
I could hear the frogs’ croaking song over the “American Idol” wannabe singing stars from our living room TV set. Could the neighbors hear it? Wondering to myself, I headed to the guest bedroom window to view the front ‘homemade’ pond that we’d installed a couple of years ago. The pond’s lights illuminated two frogs swimming jerky laps around the rocks and splashing central fountain. Looking downward at the water feature, I recalled standing on a Holiday Inn balcony, spying on fellow guests at the summer courtside pool. I thought about past vacations and late night swimming at different hotel pools. Now our pond was the neighborhood frogs’ version of a Holiday Inn retreat. Boy, what I would give to be one of those frogs right now. They looked like they were having a blast!

A week later, I put two and two together. Apparently, the frogs did have some fun. There were tiny tadpoles darting in and out of our pond’s rocks; and, there seemed to be millions of them hanging tightly onto anything that was horizontal. With no frog parents in sight, I concluded that these were abandoned children! Talk about irresponsible amphibian behavior! Although, my husband Paul and I were impressed that the frogs bestowed upon us the gift of their young. But, how should we care for them? We didn’t have any fish in the pond, so we weren’t treating the water for fish-life. What did tadpoles need to grow up to be big, healthy frogs? We googled on the internet and found out what to do next. After buying water conditioning products, we only added treated water so the tadpoles would not die from chlorine poisoning. Next, we used an old, torn screen from one of our windows to place around the water pump so they wouldn’t get sucked in and recycled into something else on the food chain. We added romaine lettuce leaves. Our informative tadpole guide told us that they liked lettuce. We thought we were on a roll. Proud of ourselves, we stood next to the pond with hands on hips, watching the little guys swim back and forth from the big rock to the small rock near the front of the pond. A couple hundred other tadpoles seemed to lack ambition. They opted for just lazying about on the shallow end without making any waves. Maybe they were really busy eating the green shadow of algae at the pond’s bottom. We worried that the still tadpoles might not be as healthy as the swimming ones on the other side.

The worries continued. The next afternoon when adding more conditioned water to the pond which happened to be down a couple of inches due to hotter weather and evaporation, I wondered if the tadpoles were hiding under the rocks. Where did all those millions of little swimmers go? I saw some clinging to a couple of algae-tinted rocks, but where was the big gathering? Were they hiding or camouflaged? My eyes darted back and forth trying in vain to see some sign of life. Finally, I gave up and went inside. That evening I trekked back out to the pond hoping to see the magic of a pond resurrected with teeming life forms, reassuring me that we humans had taken the right precautions for the frogs’ babies. The aquatic spotlights featured even fewer tadpoles. My stomach tightened. Ok, were they being body-snatched? Would I awaken to find myself inside a science-fiction-like dream? Star Trek’s “The Trouble with Tribbles” in reverse? Shaking my head and trying to clear my vision, I suddenly noticed a large, brown, roach-like waterbug crouched near the unsuspecting tadpoles. It sat motionless on a submerged, nearby rock. I had a funny feeling about this bug. Was it an alien in our underwater paradise? Without any time to kill, I pivoted and quickly sped inside to google myself into the world of waterbugs. Foe or Friend?? With our high-speed internet connection, in hardly any time at all, I found myself sullenly staring at a deadly creature nick-named “toe-biter”. It sucked the life force out of its prey. It resembled scary aliens I’d read about in sci-fi anthologies. It was the ENEMY! One of its favorite food items was tadpoles. It ranged all over North and South America. It flew, it swam, and it could even leave a human with a poisonous bite when cornered. These giant waterbugs could get as big as three inches in length. I noticed as I read on that I felt warmer. I could feel myself getting angry. Those poor, innocent tadpoles were the main course for lord-only-knows how many water-thugs. Justice needed to be served. But how?

After drafting my husband into my personal army of two, we headed outdoors in the dark, armed with a poled net and a long, sharp stick. We had a focused mission. Destroy all aquatic enemies! Regain enemy territory. Return it to the few, remaining tadpoles! Armed and dangerous, flashlight in hand, we readied for battle. The pond’s enemy seemed to have multiplied before our very eyes. Giant, menacing waterbugs were everywhere. On, under, and over rocks, the bugs fearlessly waited. We stood as one, gathering our military intelligence and a working battle strategy.
“Ok, you hold the flashlight, Paul. I’ll swoosh them out with the net. Then you smash them with the stick.”
“No, you hold the flashlight. I want to stab them with the stick in the water. Forget the clumsy net.”
We went back and forth. The battle was way-laid. Finally, we came to an armistice. I held the flashlight. Paul would do the smashing.
“Dang-it! I missed!” I could hear the frustration in Paul’s voice.
“All right, then. Let me have a crack at ‘em,” I volleyed back.
After several attempts at killing the giants, we still weren’t having any luck. Finally, I heard a deadly splash and a war hoop of delight. “Killed the sucker!” Paul sounded victorious.
I reached in with the net and retrieved the dead bug. It would be a specimen in a jar-memento of the battle effort, worthy of study later.
Genocide. Were we messing with Mother Nature? Well, we didn’t have to worry about wiping the giant waterbugs off the map. We were able to kill only a few. There were plenty more the following night. Armed and not-so-dangerous, we tried again. Feeling foolish, flashlights in hand, we wondered what the neighbors would think if we were caught red-handed in battle. Throwing caution to the wind, we just kept on plugging away with our guerilla tactics. We possessed a grim resolve, but the end was nowhere in sight. Eliminating those slippery, sneaky bugs was a lot harder than you could ever imagine. Finally, we shrugged and retreated to the house. Feeling defeated, we thought we had let the tadpoles down. In fact, we saw only a limited few that had survived the evil clutches of the toe-biters.

The next night, I didn’t have the heart to go out to stand by the pond. But, I did glance out the bedroom window, hoping to see the tadpoles reappear. Maybe, they had been safely hiding under some water plants. I sat in the window’s alcove dreaming of how they would continue to grow, in fact, evolve, back legs first, then the front legs. They would need air to breathe. Then, we’d see the transformation. There would be new-found frogs sitting on top of the rocks, jumping into the water by choice only. Mission accomplished! Rivet!!!

A splash in the corner of the pond distracted me from my nighttime reverie. I looked up. There was a large adult frog jumping deftly off a rock in the pond. It quickly surfaced. In its mouth was a three-inch waterbug. I looked again. Gulp. The bug disappeared into the frog’s mouth.

Back-up! The troops arrived just in the nick of time. Now we have a larger and fiercer army. “Colonel Frog at your command!” The Green Marines. Vindication comes in all sorts of packaging. It’s the Circle of Life.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Down by the Pond~~Paintings and a Personal Narrative

Waiting for Lunch
by Cindy Morawski
Splash! I saw my turtle swim away from me into the late afternoon's watery shadows of the pond. I stared at the ripples waiting for him to surface. He did. And, as he came up for air, he turned his head and looked right into my eyes. I felt relieved to be acknowledged. Maybe he was grateful.
First thing in the morning, I heard my dogs barking in the side yard so I went outside to see what all the fuss was about. I scanned around to see if there was someone walking by with a dog. I looked up into the trees for squirrels. Rusty and Phin-Dog could get very excited about seeing another dog or taking in the quick and quirky movement of a squirrel. Nothing so far. I started over to the backyard. I thought I'd check on the progress of the hedge that we had recently planted. I stood next to the hedge and sensed someone checking me out. It felt kind of weird because I didn't see anyone. I eyed the alley on the other side of our Japanese boxwood hedge. Now I spotted something. It wasn't moving, but it was alive. I moved toward it to get a better look. Awww, poor thing! I muttered to myself. The turtle stood still and allowed me to come closer. It looked like its shell had been mauled by something with some very large teeth. Although its head, legs, and tail looked all right. I decided to rescue it on the spot. No more close calls with dogs or coyotes for this reptile.
I called a friend of mine who rescues wildlife and asked her what I should do next. She said her neighbor had a pond and rescued turtles. It was a perfect solution. I drove the turtle over to the release location. Next, I gently picked him up from the box that I found in our garage, and then headed to the pond. Solidly placing my friend at the little pond's edge, I whispered good-bye and good luck, Terrapene, Latin for box turtle.
I'm open to commissioned art work.
Do you have someone or something that you'd like to honor with a painting? I take commissions for pet portraits, landscapes, and still lifes. If you'd like to honor your pet (any kind) with a keepsake painting, I could have it painted for you within two weeks. Just email or give me a photo and I could have it completed with a frame, and ready to hang, in no time. Also, if you would like to commemorate your home (inside or out), your yard or garden, a photo from your travels or a vacation, or some personal treasures such as found objects, antiques, dolls, collections, etc., I could paint those as well. What better way to give a gift to yourself or to a loved one than with a painting that you initiate with a commission. Please call or email me for prices and more details. (studio phone: 210.522.0706, email:
Hope you have a relaxing Memorial Day!
Congratulations to all you graduates too!
Cindy Morawski
Morawski Fine Art

Thursday, May 26, 2011

SAVA Co-op Gallery~~Grand Opening!

Lookin' Good!
Come See . . .
the one and only~~
River Center Mall
849 E. Commerce Street
San Antonio, Texas
Open Now: Thursday through Sunday
11 to 6 Thursday through Saturday
12 to 6 on Sunday
You're Invited!
Grand Opening Reception
Sunday, June 5, 2011
1 to 4 p.m.
People's Choice Awards
Unique Fine Art

Monday, May 9, 2011

Celebrate Texas, a local art show at SA's Central Library

Best of Show! Left to right: Mary Lopez, Richard Bahn, and Timothy Jones
Refreshments and Conversation
Poster Greeting at the Central Library
Colorful Gallery Space~~Chihuly's Glass Sculpture
Texas Pastel Society's Regional Art Show
by Cindy Morawski
CELEBRATE TEXAS, the 2011 TXPS Regional Juried Pastel Art Competition and Exhibition, met on Thursday, May 5th, for the opening and reception at San Antonio's Central Library at 600 Soledad. The reception kicked off at 6:00 p.m. and awards followed at 7:00 p.m. with Richard Bahn, landscape artist, receiving $500 and the BEST of Show award with his painting, Autumn's Echo.
The Texas Pastel Society's exhibition will continue through June 18, 2011. Art categories include, landscapes, portraits, animals, and still life. Gallery hours are as follows: Monday through Thursday from 9 to 9, Friday and Saturday from 9 to 5, and Sunday, 11 to 5. More information can be found online at

I Am Haunted by Waters, Looking at LIfe and Art

Peaceful Waters
Spring Reflections at Lost Maples
The Hills Are Alive
Sabinal Spa
Plein Air Painting
Ready, Set, Paint!
Firefox Cabin on the Sabinal
Medina River Stopover on the Way to Vanderpool
I Am Haunted by Waters
by Cindy Morawski
Everyday that it doesn't rain, I feel a little blue. This Texas drought is bringing the waters down, and it's bringing me down too. The cracks in the ground in my neighborhood greenbelt are getting big enough to swallow a squirrel on the run. The soil is as dry as powder and looks like accumulated dust on the trail. I get thirsty just looking at those big Live Oak trees. How far down do their roots need to go to get some water, anyway?
Our watering day is every Tuesday in San Antonio because our house number ends in a "3." We're now on Restricted Watering set by the San Antonio Water System or SAWS. We can't use our irrigation system but once a week, but we can hand water. I'm already feeling sorry for the local wildlife. I try to keep my birdbath filled so the birds and critters can get a drink. I saw a squirrel jump from our fence right onto the birdbath and then take a five-minute swill.
Water is obviously an important focus to most of the living things on this planet. Some states in America are getting too much lately, and some like Texas are getting too little. I couldn't help but notice "the waters" when I recently spent a week at Lost Maples. I stopped at the Medina River for a photo and driving break on the way to Vanderpool and the Firefox Cabins where I planned to stay while I did some plein air painting with some artist friends. After arriving at my destination near Lost Maples State Park, I checked out the Sabinal River. Even though the water level was down, it still retained its natural beauty and its voice sang as it traveled across the rocks and through the land.
Writer Norman Maclean once said, "Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters." I too am haunted by waters. I like to paint rivers, creeks, ponds, and the sea. Landscapes with water seem to energize me. Their spirit is one of beauty and healing. I am grateful for water.
Besides admiring the rivers that flowed in the Texas Hill Country, I managed to do some landscape painting as well. I started with some plein air sketches and then moved onto field studies. After that, I worked on larger paintings. The above paintings were completed while in the field. With my painting entitled The Hills Are Alive, I tried to capture the movement and rhythm of the Hill Country. It's an impressionism style that goes for simplicity in shapes. The painting called Peaceful Waters, celebrates rivers in more of a representational manner. I incorporated the stillness of the water, the rough texture of the rocky cliffs, and the shadows of the day in order to tell time. With the reflection of the East Trail Pond in Lost Maples, I tried to show the freshness of spring with the colors of lime green and pink. The newness of sprouting leaves and grass along the horizon also tells of the season's announcement of Spring.
Getting away from it all has its advantages. I came back not only inspired by my closeness to nature, but I also enjoyed learning new things from being surrounded by other artists. It was all good! And as John Muir once expressed, "Everybody needs beauty as much as bread, places to play in, and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike."
I hope our drought will end soon. Look for me doing an outdoor Irish jig in the backyard to celebrate the first rain of the season. Think RAIN!!!

Celebrate Texas, a Texas Pastel Society's regional juried art exhibition at San Antonio's Central Library through May

Art in Bloom, the New Braunfels Art League's spring show featuring all things flowers through May

Missions and More at the River Art Gallery at LaVillita on the San Antonio Riverwalk this month

New Gallery and New Paintings~~now open at the SAVA Gallery at the SA River Center Mall

Three works at the Foundry Coffeehouse on McCullough this month and next

*Hope you'll check out one or more of my art shows this month!