By Betty Harris
As a watercolor artist who is hooked on gardening and teaching, I tend to be very aware of my surroundings. Recently I read some advice given by one artist to another. That advice: “take your act outside”. He said this because he knew it would impact the quality of her work. Let’s explore that concept, not just from the artist’s but from the citizens’ point of view.
An artist who does watercolors looks at the landscape and often “sees” it as a watercolor and imagines what it would look like on paper and the techniques needed to recreate an illusion that would remind him or her of this view. An arborist might look at it in terms of what needs trimming or thinning and where the dead trees are. A landscaper might see it as needing to be rearranged and some flowers, bushes, paths or benches added. A farmer might see it as a potential farm land that could grow corn and hopefully generate a profit. Basically, everyone sees things a bit differently based on our own personal slant on life. An environmentalist would see it as needing to be protected while a developer might see it in terms of profit or loss. Children would see it as a place to play and have imaginary adventures like I did as a child. Children still do this, don’t they?
Some see the world around them as potential profit or something to be exploited or like my mother did and ask “what’s it good for?” It is really our LIFE SUPPORT SYSTEM. Without it life lived inside a bubble just to survive would be poor indeed. Humans really depend on nature for more than they ever think it provides like water, shade, oxygen, food, beauty and a calming peaceful existence. Perhaps we should think in terms of protecting it so that we might live a decent existence rather than of what we can make of it or do with it.
A 1500 Sanskrit text said, “Upon this handful of soil our survival depends. Husband it and it will grow our food, and our shelter and surround us with beauty. Abuse it and the soil will collapse and die, taking humanity with it”. It would seem the ancients were wiser than we are.
Yesterday I was talking with my baby brother, he’s 58 now, about how dry our winter was and somehow we ended up talking about California’s drought and that they have been sucking water out of the aquifers to use to frack oil and gas wells. Then when the water is totally ruined and polluted, they inject it back into the ground as if they can actually control where it goes. They seem not to be concerned that it will pollute the same aquifers that are needed to provide the fresh water that they started with. It still surprises me when people are not aware of this but since he works all the time and comes home to fall asleep in front of the TV he must have missed this.
We humans, citizens of this planet and stewards of the same, need to take a bit of the watercolorist’s advice and take our act outside. Which reminds me, I have to prune my apple tree and my blue mist spirea today.