Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I Need Monet

The cat has acquired a new habit since moving here. When I open the door to let her out, she swivels her head back and forth, from side to side several times, continuously as she steps slowly, carefully across the threshold and out the door.

I know how she feels. There is so much to look at. When I walk in the meadows, which are glorious right now, I do the same thing. My pace slows, sometimes to a standstill, while my eyes try to take in everything, every detail, every nuance in the landscape—the long views, the macro views, this leaf, that flower, this grass, that tree in the distance.
It is a matter of texture: there are thousands of them in every square foot—hairy thistles, smooth grass blades, fuzzy seed heads.
It is a matter of shape: circular discs of clover leaves, candelabras of ironweed blossoms, fountain sprays of goldenrod getting ready to burst into full feather dusters.
It is a matter of color: purple coneflowers dying back to brown, green apples with the first blush of red forming in the trees, bright yellow surprise of Jerusalem artichoke waving on stems as high as the ironweed, all against a background of chlorophyll in every shade imaginable.
It is a matter of pattern: how many thousand—five, ten?—round heads of Queen Anne’s lace bobbing in the breeze on a plane just above the tallest grasses.
I can’t see it all! My eyes are like hungry puppies that can’t gobble their food fast enough. I could look and look and look all day. If I had my books with me, I’d rustle up a quote from E.O. Wilson’s, Biophilia, about how we humans evolved in the midst of all this creative variety and artistic juxtaposition that exists in nature, and therefore in us. No wonder our brains are so complex. And no wonder that we need nature in such a fundamental way, that it inspires us still.

Or, forget E.O. Wilson, and think of Captain Kirk visiting that planet that was so like Earth. After all those barren outposts with rocky terrain and red skies, they came upon a planet soft with vegetation and ringing with birdsong. The crew went native and was in danger of forgetting the Enterprise altogether, of chucking interstellar travels in exchange for fresh air and moist dirt. Even Spock’s half human side was awakened by the lush forests, warm sunshine, and cool streams. It was home at the deepest cellular level. (Of course a pretty lady was involved, from whom Kirk had to pry himself away to save the Enterprise, but that’s another piece of nature I’m not talking about right now.)

Before we moved here, I wondered what it would be like to be able to watch the meadows unfold all year long. I wondered what I was missing when we couldn’t make it out here for weeks at a time. I guess this post makes it clear that I have not been disappointed. The only thing missing is my painting skills. About every ten feet, while taking my walks, I stop, hold my hands up to make a frame and say, “Now that would make a beautiful painting.”

I feel that one of the raisons d’etre for humans is to notice and sing the praises of this most remarkable planet. I almost feel an obligation to learn to paint for that very reason. Because photographs can’t capture the subtleties, I should move to paints. If only my grandmother were here. She’d set up an easel and get busy. For now, I'll have to be satisfied with my Fuji Finepix camera and mere words.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Honet, you got yerself your own little Giverny right there, you do. A little Aix en Provence ! Mmmm hmmm, yessirree. That's some perty countryside. Oh, and can I request a photo of big fat puss out in the tall grass ? thank ya