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Life as an Artist/Naturalist

Over the years people have expressed curiosity- what is it like to be an artist?

Well, let me tell you.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my earliest memories are powerfully visual, with a sense of purpose it took me years to figure out (I can be a bit slow!).  Fast forward to my family moving to Illinois, and it happened again, that moment of being deeply struck by something.  This time we were at Illinois Beach State Park, and a young lady was sticking orange flags into the sand here and there.  She explained that she was conducting a study of some sort.  A seed was planted that day in my heart, although I didn’t know it at the time.

I went on to get a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, intending to be an ecologist.  That didn’t work out exactly the way I planned, but that seed was still growing.  My life flowed along, winding and weaving with lots of side tracks and blind alleys.  Is your life like that, too?  I used to worry about that but now I just enjoy the scenery.  One of the fun things to happen was getting involved with prairie restoration.  I lived in Peoria at the time, and the prairies were “hill prairies”.  When they say “hill” down there, they don’t mean the gentle slopes you come across occasionally around here.  No.  They mean vertical slopes that leave you clinging to clumps of grass while the gravel goes out from under your feet.  But when you stand at the top of these ravines, you are looking out over the tops of trees and patches of open prairies.  Try it sometime- you will be amazed how beautiful it all is.  And then, a butterfly the size of a dinner plate (oh, ok, a dessert plate) floated past leaving me with my mouth agape.  “Wow…”

That is one of the things about being an artist, for me anyway.  These great moments come along and I am practically inarticulate!   I guess my brain is processing everything visually.  Yea, let’s go with that…

It was mentioned to me that the Nature Conservancy needed butterfly monitors, and did I want to be one?  You betcha!  This started me on what has been a very rewarding adventure, full of surprises and beauty.

I hope your life is an adventure, too.