Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Discovering Nature's Daily Exceptional Images

Here in New England, Labor Day seems to mark a transition in nature as much as it does a change in human activities. Driving to work this morning from my home in the hilltowns of western Massachusetts, I was noticing the mist hanging over the dewy fields as the sunshine hit them and spots of red and yellow appearing in the treetops. And then a snowy egret appeared, bright white against the deep blue sky. My heart and spirit were lifted beyond the mundane world of my car interior (although I was able to keep my eyes on the road!).
In her book Drawn to Nature, Clare Walker Leslie calls these moments of connection with nature Daily Exceptional Images, or DEI. She recounts how the practice of looking for one simple image in nature each day began when her mother was dying. Overcome with the grief and pain of watching her mother's suffering, Clare began the practice of looking outdoors each day for an image that she could hold onto, "like a marble in my pocket that I rubbed for nourishment and balance." She shared these images with her mother. Soon her children joined in, discovering and sharing their own images.

Illustrations by Clare Walker Leslie from her book, Drawn to Nature

Working as Clare's editor on this book as well as on her previous book, Keeping a Nature Journal, has opened my eyes to the exceptional images that appear every day, there to be discovered by simply becoming an observer. This afternoon, rushing to an appointment, my mind caught up in the details of all the work I'd left undone at the office, I caught sight of two squirrels — a small red one and a much larger gray one — chasing after each other, playing tag on the side of the road. The red one was winning, and the comical sight made me smile. Yes, there's an amazing natural world out there, bigger, more interesting, and more entertaining than the nagging thoughts circling around in my head!

You'll be surprised how many DEI you can spot once you literally open your eyes to them, no matter where you are. And once you start, you'll want to share them with your friends and family. Now there's a great new use for Facebook and Twitter — passing around DEI sightings!

— Deborah Balmuth, Editorial Director

No comments: