I have spent over 25 summers in the interior of Algonquin Park. I love it. Its tall pines, roaming rivers, and cold deep lakes feel like home. Fifteen minutes of canoeing is all I need to feel relaxed. I belong in this wilderness. I am absolutely content sitting on a rock gazing across a still lake. Algonquin was one of my fist teachers. It taught me the importance of quiet, the power of the present, and the acceptance of death.
Though Algonquin has been trampled by millions of feet, though its woods are often disturbed by the sound of chain saws, and though man has tried to conquer it more than enjoy it – its beauty remains. I love this land and as I watch it be used by humanity I am concerned for it. Nature seems to have lost our respect and places like Algonquin suffer. The wild is not an area to be conquered but an area to be cherished. It is our greatest teacher, our greatest retreat, and therefore our greatest gift. We are to be natures protectors not its destroyer. I have come across too many campsites where young trees have been needlessly cut down, where garbage is strewn around, and where human filth is everywhere.
The arrogance of these acts is mind-boggling.
Nature is not our toy, something for us to play with and then discard. It is a necessity. It deserves our reverence, it deserves our attention, and it deserves our protection. I pray that we will once again stand in awe of wild beauty and majestic strength instead of trying to tame and harness it. I pray that places like Algonquin will once again become wilderness havens instead of recreational parks. I pray that the forests, rivers, and rocks will thrive long after I am gone.
As the trees get their leaves and the flowers begin to bloom artist from all over begin to set up little white tents in parks. Art in the Park begins. As a lover of art I am becoming keenly aware of how important these little shows are.
A few weeks ago I was standing in my little white tent talking about one of my pieces to a nice young woman when three overly excited boys, around eight years old, ran into my booth. With all of their little boy energy they darted around my tent pointing, with their ice cream hands, to all the pieces they loved, – arguing about which piece was the best and which painting they hated. They all had different reasons for loving or hating a piece. One loved the colours, one thought the movement was great, one of them declared that the work needed animals.
As they leapt around my booth the woman I was talking to asked if I wasn’t nervous having three very energetic boys on the loose in my tent.
Truthfully part of me was. The uptight, grown up part of me. But the other part of me was in absolute glory listening to little boys discuss art. It was art at its best.
Art in the Park introduces art in an environment that allows and encourages loud and joyful discussion. It shows children that art is for everyone – not just the art critic. It teaches that art is for you to enjoy, study and debate.
Our society continually pushes art to the side lines. Art in the Park brings it back to centre stage. So when you see those little white tents popping up in your local park – go, enjoy, discuss.
Such moments come rarely in any life, but when they do come they are inexpressibly wonderful – as if the finite were for a second infinity – as if humanity were for a space uplifted into divinity – as if all ugliness had vanished, leaving only flawless beauty.”
― L.M. Montgomery,
With beauty before me, may I walk.
With beauty behind me, may I walk.
With beauty above me, may I walk.
With beauty below me, may I walk.
With beauty all around me, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.
~ Navajo Night Chant
There is something refreshing about fall. Though it is the time when nature gets ready to rest, it smells and feels like life is just beginning. It feels like everything in nature is at its peak, that the trees, the wind, the sun, the rain, are all trying to out do each other. Autumn is the pause before the rest, it is the golden, crimson, rustling, celebration of all that has gone on before. And it calls us to celebrate with it. The crispness of the wind, the brightness of the sky, and the shocking colours of the trees almost force us to go outside and enjoy those last few minutes of warmth.
We move in cycles. The day has a night. The summer has a winter. The young has an old. We understand this concept but unlike nature we have forgotten to pause and celebrate those few moment in between; those hours of dusk, the days of crimson fall, the simple minutes of life. We have forgotten that it is the in-between times that makes life worth living.