I Bring You Stone.
January 14, 2010
The last issue of the New Yorker had an extensive article about Adélie Penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae), and how they are being affected by global warming. Significant amounts of ice melt in the Southern Ocean are forcing Adélies to abandon ancient breeding grounds. When people think of penguins, the image that usually comes to mind is that of an Adélie, with their stark, tuxedo black and white plumage. Their courtship behavior involves a male presenting a female with a stone. Stones are what Adélies build their nests out of, and apparently stones are in enough demand in the Antarctic that sometimes a male will present a stone that it has stolen from another's nest. A gift is a gift, right? Antarctic explorer Apsley Cherry-Garrard became very fond of the Adélies and their antics while on expedition with Robert Falcon Scott. Garrard returned to England from that fateful expedition, and eventually met the woman that would become his wife. She enjoyed hearing Garrard's tales of the Antarctic, and especially the ones involving his favorite creature, the Adélie Penguin. One day they were sitting on a park bench when Garrard leaned over, picked up a small stone and placed it next to her. She understood that a proposal of marriage would follow.
This is a little watercolor study I made for what will be a larger painting for the Sebastian Foster site. Have a lovely weekend!