Sunday, April 15, 2012

Easter and the Spring of Recovery

I celebrated Easter in a way that is befitting for a 'naturalist.' I went for a walk in the forest. My mom, the wise botanist Susan Moyle Studlar, went with me to the West Virginia Botanic Garden. We encountered rock outcrops covered in moss. And so, she was prompted to make close inspections by hand-lens, and collect specimens for the herbarium. Meanwhile, I sat upon a rock and practiced the art of wilderness contemplation.

It seems a natural fit for a celebration of rebirth and regeneration to take place near spring equinox. Indeed, Pagan religions had their own versions of Easter before Christians adapted and revised the holiday. Regardless of one's belief system, it is hard not to be amazed by the bursts of green and white and pink and blue, as the plants awaken from their winter slumber. Old life recovers, and new life begins, with a wealth of pollen in the air and bird's nests on the branches.

Spring would seem a fitting time to convalesce from illness, or to help a friend or family member in that process. Some people go to medical school in hopes of becoming healers. I am not a healer. I went to cartoon school, and profess no medical knowledge above the EMT level. And so, when my mother's sister, Virginia Pezalla, had a recurrence of leukemia, I thought that there was nothing I could do, but hope that skillful doctors could find a way to defeat the disease and bring her back to full health.

Then again, one should not underestimate the power of moral support. The condition of the brain affects that of the body in many ways not yet understood. For any serious illness, the knowledge that people care can have as much effect on the patient as any medicine. And cartoonists often give moral support with pencil and ink. Hence, I found the ambition to finish a project which I have been working on—amidst many others—since 2008. A comic book of Frog Stories—tales of hunger, desire, violence, athletics, and life-and-death drama. The life of an amphibian is as dangerous as a Secret Agent, and as unpredictable as a gas molecule. With oil pastels, I created full-color front-and-back covers. Between them, 24 black and white pages, containing four short stories, featuring argentine horned frogs, pacific chorus frogs, and a green tree frog. I dedicated the work to Aunt Ginny. It seems quite appropriate, considering Ginny's many years of teaching at Robert Morris college and introducing city folk to the wonders of nature; in addition, she has created stained-glass windows depicting frogs, one of which adorns the Studlar family sunroom.

Meanwhile, my mom gladly accepted a nomination to rescue her sister by donating stem cells. And declared that this spring break would be her best ever, should the endeavor succeed. At the hospital, I presented my comic book to Aunt Ginny, in living color. She was glad to receive it. It is but a small piece of the grand outpouring of family support Ginny has received, since this unfortunate ordeal began. We shall hope that, collectively, it can make a difference. Ginny is now at home, enjoying family, sunshine, dog walks, and some improved health. Soon, chemo will begin, followed by a stem cell infusion by her sister. We will hope for the best. And the religious among us will pray to their deities of choice. Spring is a time of revival. Life shows its resilience, and splendid colors.

Footnote: I will launch online sales of Frog Stories as soon as possible!

The two pictures of Ross solo are by ©Susan Moyle Studlar


  1. I've always had an affinity to frogs. I also am a huge fan of graphic novels. Be sure to post when your book is available!
    Sorry to hear about your aunt. Your mom is a hero. Prayers and thoughts.

  2. My mom is a hero in many respects, no doubt. I will find a venue for Frog Stories, will notify. Sadly, my old distributor IKnowJoeKimpel has closed down. I am looking for a new one.

  3. Yes, I tried clicking on the link to the Raven and the Crayfish but it was broken. Good luck finding a new distributor.