Tuesday 9 July 2013

A forest grows... in a chair?

For the past week or so I've been fully embroiled in an out-of-the-ordinary project. It's an unusual one but I've loved it! I have been painting an Adirondack-style lawn chair as a fundraiser for the Critter Care Wildlife Society.

My chair, and those painted by a couple of other local artists who also volunteered their time, will be sold at Critter Care's upcoming Open House, hopefully bringing in a bit of much-needed money to support the Society's charitable work of rehabilitating orphaned and injured wild mammals. The wildlife shelter is tucked away in Campbell Valley Park, and it is there that they take in everything from orphaned baby raccoons and skunks to bear cubs, fawns, bobcat kittens, otter pups and other wild youngsters. Injured/ill adult animals also find a haven at the shelter where they receive medical care, a quiet place to rest and recover, and ultimately a second chance at life. One of few organizations of this nature, animals are sometimes sent to them from the far reaches of the province. The goal is always to release the animals back into the wild once they're ready. It's valuable work and even though the Society operates on a shoe-string budget, the commitment of those involved is unwavering. Needless to say, the support of volunteers and public donations is crucial to the Society's existence.

My relationship with Critter Care goes back a few years to when they approached me about another volunteer project - to illustrate a children's book that would be sold as a fundraiser. Of course, given the work that the Society does, I was glad to lend a hand. The result was this little book entitled A Day by the River, recounting the exploits of Bradley Bear and his forest friends. It was a labour of love, and a successful one. I believe there are no copies remaining until the Society can find the funds to print more.

This year's project of painting a chair has proved to be another labour of love. I started with just an idea: a green forest with, of course, an animal or two. Another volunteer at Critter Care graciously gave the chair a coat of green primer paint to save me some time (thank you, whoever you are).

As my readers, friends and acquaintances know, one of my favourite local haunts is Campbell Valley Park - a green oasis where I find much inspiration and enjoyment. My favourite time of year is spring when the wildflowers bloom and the forest comes to life. Given the park is also home to Critter Care's wildlife shelter, it seemed only natural to me that my chair take on the theme of "Springtime in the Forest".

There are trilliums...

... and salmon berry blossoms...


... and bleeding hearts, and ferns.

A native Red Squirrel looks on from a vantage point on a tree trunk (not a European grey squirrel; they are invaders in our parks, neighbourhoods and wild spaces).

Of course, springtime in our local forest would not be complete without my favourite bird: a little Winter Wren singing his song.

And so from the chair grew a green forest carpeted by wildflowers and inhabited by cheeky creatures.



Soon another volunteer will pick up the chair and transport it back to the shelter, and over the weekend when the Society opens its doors to visitors, the chair will go to a new home - one that I hope will pay generously to have it adorn their patio (all proceeds will benefit the shelter).

As for me, I'm already thinking about ideas for next year's chair!


I'm pleased to report that the chair earned more than $2,000 at the silent auction held during Critter Care's annual Open House in July, all of which will benefit the animals in the society's care. To learn more about Critter Care Wildlife Society and the work they do, please visit www.crittercarewildlife.org.

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