Thursday, November 16, 2006

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore"

While I was walking down the hill from school last week or so, I heard a musical, liquid chuckling noise from behind and above me; the noise perhaps that is described as like molasses gurgling out of a jug. I looked back, and there was a raven sitting on the lamppost I had just walked under. It was a most unexpected noise from that source, though maybe I had read about it and forgotten. I tried to take a picture, though none came out well enough to use, but they did show clearly enough the shape of the bill and the curve of the throat feathers, so I could be sure it was a raven. And when it flew, the angle of the tail confirmed it.

I had learnt those details about ravens while researching to do these drawings of them for a class last spring. At that time, I had not seen any close by, but they've been in the yard since, sitting in the trees quite close to the window. Still no pictures — they fly away when I open the window to try. They're too smart for me.

When Cafepress brought out these new colorful tees, and I started putting my designs on them, the ravens came to mind. I had not originally put any ravens on kids tees, thinking "Who'd want to put pictures of ravens on their kids?" Then I thought about Poe's raven, who said "Nevermore", and it reminded me of a 2-year-old who has just discovered the power of saying "No".

(In an "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny' sort of cultural evolution, that seems to be similar to the power discovered by the medieval Arabic mathemeticians who discovered the concept of zero.)

And it seemed to me that having the raven to symbolize that eternal No might be funny. (My little niece is just two, so I am thinking about this.)

And then I thought about the holiday curmudgeon type of family member, who might appreciate a raven t-shirt as camouflage and defense against, and comment on, the seasonal festivities. These new dark tees are perfect for that, especially this green. The Fall-colored raven drawing looks almost cheerful on the new women's brown tee. Especially in comparison to the almost sinister look of the Spring-colored raven with the green leaves on the green tee.

And I'm still wondering, since I haven't ordered one to try it out, if the rather blue-black raven feathers would show in an interesting way against the black tee. Perhaps people who would like that would prefer that there not be any of those confounded colorful leaves to interrupt their black gloom. I might have to try a version of that.

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