Five years ago, Lawrence Kansas had a festive "Jayhawks on Parade". Modeled on other cities' icons on parade, a couple of dozen Jayhawks were creatively altered and decorated to show off various local interests, or just made to fit an artist's whim. I was sponsored by a local construction business to do a "Patchwork Hawk". I made several hundred quilt blocks in red, blue and yellow Jayhawk colors and glued them to my big fiberglass bird. Then, to protect the fabrics, I put several coats of exterior spar varnish on the guy. According to my research, spar varnish would provide the most UV protection. But it also has a golden yellowish cast to it, and as I added each new coat of varnish, my Jayhawk became more orange, green and gold. So, I didn’t put on as many coats as I had originally planned. The Jayhawks were to be displayed outside for a few months and then auctioned off to help various charities. My Jayhawk spent the summer on our main street, and then after its auction, it was moved into an empty store front owned by my sponsor. I don’t know what happened to the buyer at the auction. Maybe she worked for the construction firm. Maybe she decided she didn’t want the bird. Anyway, Patchwork Hawk spent the next couple of years gathering dust in the dark. I tried to contact the construction firm and see what the plan was for what I still sorta considered my bird…but I couldn’t get past the receptionist. A short while back our paper did a “Where are they now?” story on the Parade Jayhawks, and I was surprised to learn that my Jayhawk had been moved to the KU rugby fields south of town. Yesterday my daughter and I made the trek out to the rugby fields (which are only slightly different from the regular farm fields out there) and visited Patchwork Hawk. He is still cheerful, but so lonely! Weeds have grown up around him and the brutal Kansas weather is starting to make him molt his patchwork feathers. Although, to be honest, I am surprised how well they have held up.
He sits on a spectators’ ridge with his back to the road, looking towards town. Oh well, I like rugby. And I hear that rugby players are good folks…. But gosh I wish he was here sitting on my front porch and not out in that field!