Marina Atherton-Howe

Magpie on the Roof

We’ve lived in our house for almost 8 years, and while our neighborhood has been changing since we got here, one constant has been the magpies making their homes in the pine trees throughout our yard and neighborhood. We have other birds too, but in spending more time at home it’s become apparent that the magpies are definitely the loudest, boldest, and most prominent.

In addition to everything else that 2020 has brought us, this past month brought red-sunsetted, smokey wildfire skies and raging windstorms. When the windstorms came we watched through the windows, worrying that the taller pines may fall on our house and thinking out loud about how the birds were faring. One house up the street lost half the aluminum shingles from the roof, and they were strewn around the neighborhood with one shingle making it all the way to our front lawn.

I wasn’t sure what to create for this project, I only knew I wanted to try something different. One brainstorm session was interrupted by a magpie cackling in the yard, and that seemed perfect. While cleaning up debris from the storm, I realized that the storm should be part of the project, too. The end result: I stenciled a neighborhood icon with a smokey sun on a piece of the neighborhood itself, then placed it in a frame built right in our garage.