Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Botanical Garden, Part 2: The Whimsy

  The Bellevue Botanical Garden is divided into different sections. There are the actual, manicured and well maintained gardens and then there is the botanical reserve which is full of trees and the wild. When in the wild, one never knows what they may see...deer, wolves, banana slugs, squirrels, mountain lions, birds and....gnomes!

  Someone had fun turning nooks and crannies in the botanical reserve into delightful and whimsical gnome homes. Most people associate gnomes as the cute pointy hated little men that people have garden statues for. But here is an interesting historical tidbit about gnomes. Alexander Pope wrote a story called 'The Rape of Lock' in which gnomes appear. In his story, gnomes are reincarnations of prudish women. The gnomes spend the rest of their eternity looking after other prudes to make sure they are unharmed by danger and that their prudish nature is rewarded by safety. One thing all gnomes have in common is that they are little people. Originally, they lived underground, rather than in flower gardens. They could move through the soil, rocks and other elements of 'ground' as if it were air.

Here are more photos from the botanical reserve.

 What do you call a mystical, bearded elf-like person with great intelligence?

  A Knowme!

Source for information about gnomes:
"Gnome." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 1 Sept. 2015. Web. 07 Sept. 2015. <

Monday, September 14, 2015

Botanical Garden, Part 1: The Flowers

I'm looking forward to Fall, but I will miss the flowers.  I am sure I will think to myself "Where have all the flowers gone?"  Here is a song that goes with the theme!

  When taken by it's literal meaning only, the song "Where Have all the Flowers Gone" is a great anthem for the sorrow of fall. Even though I love fall, there is a sadness about it. But this song isn't talking about literal flowers. The sorrow of this song is much greater. It is the sorrow of war. The song is about young men going off to war. However, if you want this song to be just about the wistful sadness that accompanies the change of summer to fall, that is okay. The author of this song, Pete Seeger says this about his songs "You know, a song can mean a thousand different things to different people, and when people ask me what the song means, I say, "Whatever it means to you, it means". But I'm not going to tell you what it means to me because that's my ... well, I might destroy your illusions." *
   I love this perspective on music and think it equally applies to all forms of art. Just because a book, poem, picture or song meant one thing to the author when they wrote it, does not mean that is the only meaning, or the most important meaning.

  These pictures are from my visit to the Bellevue Botanical Garden. Bellevue is a city very near Seattle, but for the most part I have no reason (and little interest) in going to Bellevue. But this botanical garden was great! I liked wandering around both the well manicured and more wild portions of this garden.

*Source for information about Pete Seeger and 'Where Have All the Children Gone': 
Smith, Ian K. "Top 20 Political Songs: Where Have All the Flowers Gone."Top 20 Political Songs: Where Have All the Flowers Gone | Pete Seeger | 1961. New Statesman, 25 Mar. 2010. Web. 07 Sept. 2015.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Little Adventurer Camps Out in His Treehouse While the Forest Animals Below Dance with Merriment

  Here is a commissioned picture that I finished recently. It is for a yet-to-be-born baby boy. The client requested the picture to have Northwest wildlife in it. All the animals are ones that could be spotted in a real Pacific Northwest forest.
  When I was little, I had a Hansel and Gretal book that my dad use to read to me. It was a version that was retold by author Kay Brown with illustrations by Gerry Embleton.  This particular Hansel and Gretal book had really imagination-inspiring illustrations. There was the main picture and then there was all the little surprise details going on around the main picture. So maybe you would see a picture Hansel and Gretal wandering through the woods but to the side, you could spot a little elf peeking from the side of a tree. I loved all these details as a kid. It was fun to make up stories about the little elf, or the little animal wearing a jacket. This was my inspiration for this picture. The main picture is the animal dance party and the tree house, but I included lots of little details to inspire the little boy's imagination while he looks at it.

The little adventurer is full of wonder and curiosity. His favorite thing to do is wander the woods, investigating the natural world around him. Wherever the little adventurer goes, his dog, Scout also goes. Together, they like to learn about the world. He has learned all sorts of fascinating things about natural science through his daily forest investigations. Such things as how a caterpillar turns into a moth and the materials needed to build a bird nest. Inspired by the building skills of the bird, the little adventurer built his very own treehouse in the middle of the woods.
After a long day of forest investigation, the little adventurer likes to curl up in his tree house and read, draw pictures, look in his telescope or reexamine whatever interesting rocks or feathers he found during the day.
The little adventurer is very interested in the scientific world, but he also as an inkling that the forest is full of magic that is just out of reach. Sometimes from the corner of his eye, he thinks he sees magical creatures. Once while passing two squirrels, he though he heard them exchange a greeting of ‘hello’ to each other. While pondering the magic of the world, the little adventurer drifts to sleep.
Scout, however, isn’t so dazed with wandering thoughts and therefore, is wide awake. Scout thinks he hears some music jingling away in the forest just outside the tree house. Scout trots to the balcony to search for what is making the wonderful music. Outside, the music rumbles and twists around the tree trunks. An array of forest animals are gathered around source of music, an old record player. The animals are all dancing with great merriment! The bobcat jumps! The fox leaps! The rabbit twirls! The bear pirouettes, all while the music beats and swoons.
Scout is enraptured by wonderment as he watches the animal dance party! He lets out a friendly bark in an effort to wake his sleeping friend, but the little adventurer responds with a snore.  “I can’t wait to tell the little adventurer!” Scout thinks. But then he remembers his adventurous companion isn’t so great at speaking dog. “Someday he’ll learn!” Scout thinks optimistically.
The little adventurer could wake up at any moment! He too may be beckoned to the balcony by the music. He might plop down next to Scout and together the two friends will revel in the magic and beauty of the world. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Are You Leaving for the Country?

    The rural farmland is so beautiful and calming. While I was admiring the land from the passengers side window of the car, I had a craving to hear one song. A song both cheerful and sad, and wistful and comforting that makes for the perfect farmland anthem: Are You Leaving for the Country by Karen Dalton.

   When ever I hear this song, I immediately start longing for the country. Like Karen says, sometimes the city can bring you down. Sometimes, you need to leave the unreality of the city behind to be moved by the spirit again. Karen Dalton is very wise. 

  Karen Dalton's wikipedia page ends with this quote "Karen Dalton eventually lost her two children, became a street person, and contracted AIDS. She died in upstate New York, under the care of her old friend Peter Walker." This is such a blunt, almost unforgiving way to sum up the tragic end of someone's life. She was so gifted and full of soul, it is sad to think of the things she never created because of her ending.  Karen Dalton's voice is filled with such sadness, it is like she knew her life would be full of tragedy before it even happened. Here is a really interesting article about Karen Dalton from The Gaurdian: The Best Singer You've Never Heard of By Laura Barton.