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Energy of Life

This week I heard from two congressmen- a Senator and a Representative.  One was boasting how he is working to dismantle the EPA.  The other was patting himself on the back for his efforts to “throw away” the nuclear waste that is accumulating in Illinois.  To another state.  I was so dismayed by the misguidedness of these two that I feel I must speak up here.

The premise for dismantling  the EPA and the Clean Water Acts and other laws that protect our air and soil seems to be that they are hindering the growth of our economy.  I must take issue with this- for one thing, if our rivers, lakes and air once again become so polluted (remember the river that caught fire?) that they do not sustain life, it won’t matter how wealthy we are.  The health of our economy, and our country, very much depend on the health of our environment.  I’m all for capitalism  and freedom.  But it is blind foolishness to think we can sustain economic growth indefinitely.  There are only so many fish in the sea, so many trees in the forest.  The ocean can only absorb so much CO2.  Already the increases of CO2 have changed the chemistry of the sea, causing reefs to dissolve.  Yes, dissolve.  Freedom is a good thing, but not every corporation considers your freedom to breathe clean air or drink safe water important.  That is what those laws are for.  

I have written here before celebrating heads of companies that discovered they could run their factories without toxic chemicals going in or coming out, and show a healthy profit in the bargain.  The truth is, we don’t need to poison our world to conduct business.  

As to “throwing away” nuclear waste, I wrote to that Representative to ask what he was doing to prevent the build-up of nuclear waste in the first place.  Not too long ago I drove through a wind power farm. Not, alas, in Illinois.  It was kind of surreal, but peaceful.  Like a giant Calder mobile.  Beneath the large windmills crops grew and cattle grazed.   This seemed to me a good use for land.  I imagine the farmers get paid to host the windmills- doesn’t this make more sense than paying them not to grow crops?  Wouldn’t you rather look out at windmills, knowing they aren’t throwing off dangerous radiation, than nuclear power towers?Image

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“And it is a strange thing that most of the feeling we call religious, most of the mystical outcrying which is one of the most prized and used and desired reactions of our species, is really the understanding and the attempt to say that humans are related to the whole thing, related inextricably to all reality, known and unknowable…”  – John Steinbeck


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Interconnectedness….is that a word?

  Earth and Ocean seem 

  to sleep in one another’s 

  arms and dream 

  Of waves, flowers,

  clouds, woods, rocks,

  and all that we

  Read in their smiles

  and call reality.   -Percy Bysshe Shelley

This is my daughter’s senior year in high school, and we are exploring a subject I am calling “Earth Systems”.  This means that we are reading books about the interwoven nature of, well, nature.  We take gleeful side forays into geology, ecology, sociology and even economics as they relate.

Yesterday we visited the Chicago Botanic Garden to enjoy the three greenhouses they have, each highlighting a different ecosystem.  You get to visit the jungle, the desert, and return to the temperate zone all in the space of an afternoon.  Outside the wind howled and temperatures plunged…that is connected too, of course, but for the afternoon we were content to stand amazed before wildly shaped leaves and inhale heavenly scented blooms.  My friend Doug Taron has some wonderful shots from a trip he recently took in the desert-  I hope I memorized that correctly- it is well worth the visit to his site!

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In the Studio

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world.  That makes it hard to plan the day.” -E.B. White

Exactly…. luckily, we’re now in for a string of blustery rainy cold days, so it is into the studio with me.

welcome to my little corner of chaos

Things don’t always go smoothly in here.  In fact, I am experiencing what I hope will turn out to be growing pains.  Time will tell.  In the mean time, I paint, scrape off, paint again.  Now is the time I look forward to all season.  I have been out in the field since March or so, either doing restoration work or simply absorbing impressions I will later try to translate onto canvas to share.  I have also been taking photos- lots and lots of photos.  Now I sift through stacks of images, letting my mind drift.  Maybe if I….

And so a beginning.  This was a second beginning, actually.  The first attempt got painted out late one night after some frustrated hours.  I am making myself forget the photos and trust what wants to come up from within.  This is a scary prospect.  Not that I ever copied my photos- they have been useful reference points that I usually have nearby .  You know, to check my facts.  Lately though I have felt that they were becoming a crutch and I was becoming more a parrot than an artist.  So, out with the photos and some heartfelt hours at the easel, just me and the paint.

And here is the finished painting.  When I read about artists being genius’s, and think of some examples, I sigh.  Still, this is what comes burbling out of my heart.  I hope it resonates with you.