It is a rare day when I don’t go for a walk in the woods. Sometimes alone, but more often I am accompanied by my dog and/or my husband. Rarely is the path we’ve taken a specific one, and more likely, it has a rambling direction dependent on exploring something of interest with more care. Our wanderings might be because of the way a tree is growing, an odd formation of rocks hinting at a possible cave or sighting a particular bird or animal. I try to absorb it all; the sights, the scents and the sounds in order to bring it all back in the studio with me for inspiration in creating art. This affinity and connection to the woods began, as such things probably do, when I was a child and spent countless hours there with my siblings; exploring, imagining, making up adventures and just being a part of it in the way children can. When it was time for us to come back to the house, our mother would stand on the back porch and ring a huge bell. This was our signal to come back home and you could hear that bell for miles, or so it seemed to us. We’d scatter like flushed grouse and go running like the young wild things that we were, whooping and laughing through the woods as we raced each other to be the first one out into the field towards home. Sometimes it was just for warm cookies fresh from the oven and a glass of cold milk. Looking back as an adult, I think she sometimes called us home just to reassure herself we were OK if we had been gone for an especially long time. After all, exploring a vernal pool, hunting for “Big Foot” tracks or building secret forts can be very absorbing work. Now, as an adult, taking a walk in the woods has a meditative quality for me and restores a sense of inner peacefulness from the stress of work and other responsibilities. Not that I don’t still have moments for “whooping it up” and running through the woods once in a while, especially with a young dog or youthful relatives along for company.
Rachel Carson said: “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and the mystery of the world we live in.”
I believe the “inner child” in me is alive and well when I walk in the woods. Finding inspiration for my artwork there is an endless well from which I can dip my paintbrushes.