With the first plum blossoms comes a bold spring call.

The first plum blossoms, Zurich, 2022
A bold spring call (Narcissus flycatcher), ink on bamboo paper, 2021

I waited a year to capture this moment, and now it is finally here. The time when the first plum blossoms open in Zurich. Out I went with my camera, close to the golden hour. It was perhaps a little too close for the specific location of this tree, somewhat shaded in the late afternoon. From nearly every direction around the tree, you can now hear the very active songbirds. When color returns to nature, birds are not far behind.

Around this time last year I painted an image for the 10 year anniversary of the Fukushima accident. It follows a similar line of thought.

Looking at the cherry blossom trees planted to color the streets of the Olympic torch relay in Spring (featured in the right corner) reminded me that birds must not be far behind in nature’s recovery. I placed the region’s bird, the Narcissus flycatcher boldly announcing spring in the middle of the composition. Standing atop a rock in the beach shore, its call is joined by the sound of the breaking waves.

If you were born by the ocean, there is something special in the sound and smell of the surf with each season. You love to be near it, it brings you a mix of peace and awe for its richness and power. The flycatcher seems to reflect this. Though the wave on the left might look big at a first glance, it is a playful game with perspective. This flycatcher is a small bird of 10-14 cm size. By placing it at the same level as the wave, you must in fact be looking at a 20-25cm surf breaking very close to the shore. But of course, the bigger you imagine that wave to be the bolder and braver the bird looks.

I have been a bit hesitant to share this painting here before, but I hope you will enjoy it as an image of hope and respect for nature.

Thank you for reading another zen Monday. Every Monday is zen Monday. Always a weekly dose of Japanese ink painting, coupled with one photo from my archives.

Over on my instagram, I have been sharing the flowers of the spring season in Zurich from my sketchbook. A selection below, follow @mtenente for more.


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