Fresh Ideas: Need a break from reality? Tune in to nature

Forty years ago this month, President Nixon resigned. I listened to the description of Nixon boarding the helicopter on the AM radio in my bronze Chevy Vega in a parking lot in downtown Pittsfield, Mass. Coming of voting age during the Vietnam War, I was distrustful of political leaders. The unfolding Watergate scandal fueled my cynicism. Nixon’s resignation was a capstone during that time, tangible proof of how messed up the world had become.

Forty years later, the Middle East churns with new and old violence and our own government, especially Congress, barely functions. Sometimes the best antidote for being overwhelmed is to do nothing. No, I am not advocating apathy. Instead, step back from the fray, whatever it may be, for a restorative time-out to appreciate art and tune in to nature. How about coyotes?

Last night the newest litter of coyote pups howled for the first time. We live adjacent to a farm field, the territory of a coyote pack and a virtual wild kingdom at night. Out of the humid darkness came weak scratchy throated yips and yelps, like rusty Morse code signals. By the next full moon, those pups will be high-fiving their hunting success with full-throated hair-raising howls that will convince me they are at the back door.

Today, a fledgling blue jay had its first bath, still sporting a helmet of gray nesting down. She plunged into the garden birdbath, splashing, shaking off, again and again, like teenagers who take long and frequent showers.

I haven’t had the good fortune to spot a fledgling hummingbird, but the avian acrobatics above the garden are as intense and territorial as aerial military combat. Avoiding acrimony, one female alights on a leafless twig of the peach tree, resting between probes of beckoning bell-shaped blossoms for nectar.

“Gardens are the result of collaboration between art and nature,” said Penelope Hobhouse. A flower garden can be a place of refuge, solace, contemplation, hard work, and creative expression. Color, scent, texture, and more blend and contrast in nature as in a painting.

Nature and art will come together with 40 artists on Saturday, Aug. 23 for the 11th annual Art in the Garden Festival at Greenhouse Garden Center on Curry Street. It’s especially relaxing to view paintings outdoors in natural light with flowers, plants, trees, flowing water and music in the background. It’s a treat to meet the artists — all local — some of whom only display and market their work at this event. Artists include painters of all kinds — metal sculptors, photographers, ceramicists, jewelers and fabric magicians.

A wise person once said, “To some, gardening is therapy for the mind. Art is therapy for the soul.” Art in the Garden Festival at Greenhouse Garden Center promises to be a healing respite from the troubles of the world. Perfect timing.

Abby Johnson is a resident of Carson City, and a part-time resident of Baker, Nev. She consults on community development and nuclear waste issues. Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her clients.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment