Sunday, November 20, 2016

Honoring My Mother

Barn Owl

Last May I meant to write a Mother's Day blog post as I did the year before .... but life was busy at the time.  Now, about six months later, I think I'll do something along that line.  To be honest I haven't been in the mood to write a regular blog post.  I was so ready for the election to be over ... and, now, even more disturbed by how unsettled the political world is right now.

We went to the Klamath Basin right after the election.  I hardly drew a thing and wrote few notes.  At least on our recent day-trips I've been burying myself in sketching again and I'm sure the words will soon fly.  It isn't like me to be in a funk.

Danny Gregory, a well known sketch artists who has worked through difficult times has a good comment on the subject in his recent post:

Don't fear change.  Create ways to change with it. 

Maybe we all need to work at little harder at nurturing the changes we want to see happen.  

Bald Eagle

Back to the reason for this blog:

Even though my mother, Fran (Frances) Hamerstrom died eighteen years ago, memories of her influence are alive and well.  Earlier this spring the Wisconsin Historical Society published a book for young readers call "Fran and Frederick Hamerstrom: Wildlife Conservation Pioneers"  -- by Susan Tupper.  

A Baby great horned owl ... like one I raised as a child.

And more recently the October 2016 Raptor Research Foundation held their fifth anniversary convention.  Two young women, Katie Harrington and Rebecca McCabe, organized a panel entitled "Women in Raptor Research: Trailblazers for the Next Generation."  They asked me if I'd be willing to donate a piece of art for each of the panelists.

At first I thought, "Oh my gosh, no!"  But they gave me lots of warning and I made a point of not committing until I knew I'd really get the paintings done.  It was nice to hear there are active raptor researchers who appreciate my mother's influence.  I did seem like a nice way for me to honor my mother and the efforts of these women. 

My mother and her golden eagle

... and for those of you who don't know who my mother was I'll just put a little thumbnail here.  For more look her up and read her books. 

My mother was born a Boston debutant, but she happily gave up the fancy East Coast life for a lifetime of ornithology with my father, Frederick Hamerstrom.  From 1949 until their deaths they lived in a pre-Civil War house without plumbing and studied prairie chickens for the Wisconsin Conservation Department (now called the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources) ... and they did a lot of raptor research in their spare time.  My favorite of my mother's books is, "An Eagle to the Sky." 

A peregrine perched along the Oregon Coast

and here are the rest of the paintings:

another great horned owl

A pygmy owl ... fairly common in western Oregon

Another great horned owl ... do you think they might have a special place in my heart?


  1. Thank you for aharing your beautiful pictures and your mother's story.

  2. Fabulous artwork and you honor your mother in so many ways. Change is inevitable, but feel we will have to be attentive with the changes we currently face. We may need to squeak where once we left it to others.

  3. Wonderful post! Know that you are contributing to an appreciation of nature much as your parents did. People are more likely to protect nature as they learn to love it.

  4. Great post. Well said. I read two books, you were kind enough to lend me about your parents, and found them very interesting. I can see where your love of nature and knowledge and talent came from and why you love sharing it with everyone.

  5. We share your feelings about the political changes. I am reading and following Bernie Sanders as he tries to make lemonade.

  6. What a wonderful legacy, Elva. I am so glad you were able to find the energy to share it with us!

  7. Politics come and go, ebb and flow. Not to say that it isn't cause for concern, but I do hope you're back to your wonderful sketching and sharing! And what a fabulous way to honor your mother and others in their passionate pursuits. Your life seems to have followed close to her footsteps. Thanks for sharing your wonderful work and Happy Thanksgiving!