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Jim and Katie on Dune Trail

This morning I thought I’d share this painting I did a few years ago of my children.  They are sitting on the Dune Trail, gently enjoying a small snake that has come across their path.  We are lucky to live in a place where one  needn’t  fear the snakes.

I feel almost a mystical tie to Illinois Beach State Park.  When my family first moved to Illinois in the 70’s, my parents took me there to see it.  I remember seeing a young lady in a park uniform putting out flags and something like a bell went off inside me.  “That will be me one day”, I found myself thinking.  Then I forgot all about it until my life had taken me down several other roads.  Life zipped along, to the day someone suggested that I might want to monitor butterflies for the Nature Conservancy.  OH!  magic.  It became my life~nets, workshops, days on the trail counting butterflies.  My children grew up, it now seems, on this and other trails.  Now when we walk the trail we find layers of memories all along the way.  One day I remember that young lady and am startled to think, yes, that did become me one day.

Now my children are grown-ups (wonderful and awful all at the same time!)  and my knees tell me they are done chasing butterflies.  It is a difficult decision to pull away from something that meant so much to me for so many years, but it has been time to for awhile.  There is a new monitor at Illinois Beach, I am told.  I feel like the old racehorse that runs the fence when he hears the bugle, but I know it is time for me to turn my focus.

Yesterday I had a reception jointly with another artist at a gallery I joined this spring.  I feel like I’ve come home all over again~all these years I thought nature people were my tribe but I started to notice how isolated I felt.  I don’t really belong in that world.  But at this gallery the artists come and hang out together.  Hours fly by as we discuss media and method.  I found my peeps!!! Funny how that can happen almost by accident, isn’t it?

22 thoughts on “Journeying

  1. You’ve been attentive to the things which were important at the various times in your life. Life changes, situations change, we change. You are responding to them and will make the best out of them, as you have before.

    Happy Mother’s Day.

    1. Thank you, Jim 🙂

  2. That is a nice remembrance of a wonderful time and your children will remain that way as long as you gaze upon the picture.
    It is most fortunate that at the time you are realizing that your life is going down another path, you are also realizing how appropriate that other path has become. I hope you do well in the gallery, Melissa.
    I spend much of my photographic life alone in nature…it seems to suit me much better than being with people. So the isolation works for me in that way…but thank goodness for the internet so I can share my work and have friends like you. 🙂

    1. Thank you Steve. I am very glad you have found you for a friend as well 🙂

  3. Life is full of chapters, some are related and others are stand-alone short stories. Sounds like you’ve had many good ones and are still creating more. Happy Mother’s Day!

  4. Thank you Eliza and I wish the same for you. Life is teaching me to be receptive to whatever wants to be the next chapter, because it is always unexpectedly wonderful.

  5. Glad you found some good peeps to share your joy of art with :-). How come you felt isolated with nature people?

    I love your painting. It is such a sweet capture of a childhood moment. Your son’s chin on his knee and your daughter’s red hat are so perfect. And I like that they aren’t afraid of the snake and are being gentle with it.

    Many years ago, I was lying on a rock by a stream with my eyes closed, enjoying the dappled sunlight on my face. I listened to the stream and the gentle rustling of the leaves. And then I heard a soft sound right by my ear. It was a beautiful sound so I listened to it for a few seconds before registering that it was a snake and I should sit up. It was a garter snake and I watched it slither away. That was the only time I ever heard that sound, the slow sliding of a small snake’s underside against rock.

    1. It’s funny about the nature people. I think it is this Chicago area…people are too competitive to be companionable. It wasn’t that way in another city where I lived for a time. But I have never felt such a connection as I do with these sweet people I’ve just met.
      Thank you so much~I felt shy about sharing it. I’m so glad you like it.
      Your experience with hearing a snake ~ wow!

  6. Ah yes, I can understand that a competitive environment can be isolating. It isn’t always, but when it is, it is no fun for sweet people. Glad you found some sweeter companions :-).

    Why did you feel shy about posting your painting? (Please let me know if I am asking to many questions. I’m just genuinely curious. :-))

    1. Not too many at all! I guess I felt shy because most of my paintings are of something “out there”, while this one is of my heart. I am so glad you like it~thank you.

      1. 🙂

  7. Oops… “too many”

  8. See, you’re not the only one who goes back to previously missed posts. I particularly resonated to your comment that “all these years I thought nature people were my tribe but I started to notice how isolated I felt. I don’t really belong in that world.” Some years ago I noticed a discrepancy that surprised me, namely that almost all the people I encountered in the world of native plants eat just like regular Americans, which is to say that they eat all sorts of junky food. Somehow I expected the “purity” of wanting to promote native plants would carry over into the world of natural foods, but that’s clearly not the case.

    1. Isn’t that a surprise? I’ve found the same thing. They also see no problem with liberal use of chemicals, even though better results could be achieved by studying the biology of an invasive plant and using it against itself.
      When I started writing a blog I never suspected the quality of friendships that would come out of it. I consider myself most fortunate to be able to call you my friend.

      1. Likewise, Melissa. Until I started a blog myself I don’t think I’d heard about “blog friends,” but now I’m grateful to have experienced it. Over those four years I’ve met three commenters in person, most recently in New Zealand. Let’s hope our paths cross someday.

      2. I hope so, Steve. I’d love to see your beautiful Hill Country in person. Maybe Steve G. and Jim and I can all come together in the grim winter months! That would be a blast.

      3. Yes, it would be fun. I’ve been trying for years to convince people I know in cold climes to come down to Texas in the winter. I usually suggest February or March, when they’re really tired of having to endure winter up there and wildflowers are already coming out down here. It sounds logical to me, but so far I haven’t convinced anyone. On the other hand, there are plenty of people from up north who spend the winter in south Texas and have earned the nickname “snowbirds.”

      4. I would not mind being called a snowbird, and I think by this coming Feb. it will be a possibility for me.

  9. On a different matter, I think your children will be grateful, decades from now, to have the painting you made of them when they were young. I guess they’ll have to take turns hanging it in their homes.

    1. Thank you so much for saying that, Steve! I confess, their reaction now makes me feel very uncertain but you are right, they are at an age of looking outward now.

      1. I think it’s a sure thing that they’ll treasure it. An outward-looking age eventually turns to look back and inward.

      2. It’s true, isn’t it? 🙂

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