At the onset of 2019 I embarked on a project that I ended up calling Field Notes From a Lost Year. Each week (or so) I sketched botanical specimens from life in pen and watercolor. I identified each specimen by both common and Latin names, noted the weather on the day I sketched, and added interesting notations about the plant’s native or invasive status, whether it was poisonous, etc. Sometimes I added sketches of birds, insects or mammals I had seen that week. Each page notes the longitude and latitude where the sketch subjects were found (usually Albemarle County, Virginia, but sometimes Hancock and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a highway in Ohio, the Chicago Botanic Gardens, or Northampton, Massachusetts). Importantly, in addition to the sketches, I included short quotations from the week’s climate-related news from a wide variety of sources. I hoped that juxtaposing my intense meditative sketches with mostly grim, but sometimes hopeful news about climate change would make it easier, and more poignant to recognize the gorgeous diversity of what we could lose if action isn’t taken immediately.

The original sketches are gathered in a spiral bound Bee Paper notebook; my son forbids me to break up the notebook and sell the originals. So I’ve made limited edition giclée prints on archival, acid-free bamboo paper. The photography and printing was done at Stubblefield Photo Lab in Charlottesville, VA. All images are copyright 2020 by Suzanne Crane–please do not reproduce without permission. The images on the website each have a small watermark on them to discourage copying.

Unframed limited edition (of 200) prints are $50 each.

July 1-8 includes sketches gathered from my annual family-reunion trip to Hancock, Wisconsin (population less than 500) in the middle of the sand counties written about by Aldo Leopold.  My great-grandparents, Rose and Will Haberman, bought a log “lodge” on a tiny lake in Central Wisconsin to provide a place for the family to retreat from Milwaukee in the polio years.  My mother was one of the cousins who summered with her grandparents in Hancock.  As a result, my extended family (Will and Rose had five children) still visits the cottage every 4th of July.  I know my second cousins as well as my first cousins–all are “cottage people.”  What would YOU call (to me) my mother’s cousin’s child’s child?  Is that a second cousin once-removed?  I don’t know–we just call everyone “family.”  Since I was little, I liked to walk across the road to the town dump and collect wildflower bouquets to adorn the long, long table in the stone half-basement which served as our dining room, ping-pong room, kitchen and song-singing room when it rained.  We also played Sheepshead–a uniquely Wisconsin card game with German roots.  And made “two-beer brats”, which are grilled Wisconsin bratwurst (like Usingers) which took as long to cook as it took to drink two beers.  My dad is in charge of the roast corn on the cob on brat night.  The original elders are gone now, and my parents’ generation are the elders now.  Soon enough, my generation will be the elders, and so on and so on.  As Kurt Vonnegut would say, “So it goes.”  And so it does.  Hancock is one of the most cherished places on earth for me.