I love the Great Outdoors, and it happened on an extended camping trip when I was out sketching in the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado:
“…I find an aspen tree that begs to be drawn. The stark white trunk rises from wrinkled, aging bark at the base of the trunk, where it turned black from storm or perhaps animal damage. This old timer has its own identity. I focus on the lower trunk, so dramatic against the summer greens and wildflowers. Here is false lupine and sticky geranium. Each plant is so individual. Each has a distinctive design, similar of course to others in the family, but with its own unique characteristics, a scar here, a twisted branch there. Gerard Manley Hopkins called this “inscape.” The tree has its own reality. I use a pencil to line out the tree on paper. I try to render that reality, its presence and place.
In return the old aspen speaks to me. Its very presence displays a life of meaningful function. Its contribution to the community, the finely crafted detail of its form, its life cycles, its circle of influence, reveals a lot. For me, it has become a witness to the Creator. I glance and sketch, glance and sketch, measure the proportions against my pencil, check the proportions on the paper, erase and correct the lines. As I work I am overtaken by a deep love for this tree, the forest of aspen, these wildflowers, this hillside. Learning to see is how this journey began, and ‘seeing’ is important. The truth, however, is that it’s all about love…”
That was the day I bonded to this amazing planet of ours with a deep and abiding love. Nowadays this planet needs all the love it can get. Can we love it enough to overcome the ravages of time, overuse, ignorance, and greed? Can we commit to improving nature’s garden, to share, plant, replant, reforest, preserve in order to save the earth. Prayer is needed too, which brings to mind the old Scripture: “…who will stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land?” (Ezek 22:30-31) Let that be us, as we work together to love the earth, to cherish the life it harbors. Why? Because it’s our home.
Excerpt from The Road to Beaver Park, J. E. Kirk, Eugene OR: Resource Pub, 2016 (http://wipfandstock.com/imprint/resource-2), p. 132.