Nuala’s Painting

In my essay, Angel Wing; An Illustrated Meditation on Nature Immersion, I mentioned Morris Mountain, with a picture of part of it.

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve heard of Nuala, the non-resident Balsamean. She has been learning watercolor painting. She liked Morris Mountain enough to invest in it. Below is the photo, and her painted rendition, which is framed under glass in my bathroom with two old favorite photos. Thanks again, Nuala.

I’m glad to have another original piece in this little house.  I have a massive collection of photos of art in all media throughout the ages on my computer, but very little original art in the house.  There are a few nice prints that my parents gave me ages ago.  There are some framed photos, all mine except one forest scene from a friend.

The dominant piece is a painting by another watercolor student, Vivian Smithwick, that she framed and gave me as a gift 43 years ago in Portsmouth, Virginia.  Still in the same frame.  I doubt she’s still painting.  If she is, she would have to be well over a hundred years old.  She left me better than she found me.

Untitled Watercolor by Vivian Smithwick, 1976

Now I have a second original painting, from the early works of the only person who can ever be a non-resident Balsamean.  If she made the picture with crayons and the skill of a three year old, I’d cherish it as much or more.  (No offense to three year olds.)

You may think a bathroom is an odd home for a cherished watercolor, but think more.  It hangs in the most conspicuous place of all the walls in the house.  It is above the primary bath towel bar, across from the toilet, beside the shower.  It gets a lot of viewer “hits.”  No, bathroom moisture won’t hurt it.  It’s sealed under glass.

I’ll insert the picture below as intensive practice for learning not to care what people think of me, for Nuala’s sake:

Nuala’s picture is the one on the left. I’m patting myself on the back for getting a shot in such a small room that includes everything I included in my description of the picture’s location.

I am not jaded by all the years of looking at these two other pictures, old photos.  They are more than pictures.  They are moments, situations, experiences, people.

The new painting is all of that plus relationships with nature and with a person, the longest sustained, continually positive and productive human relationship of any kind I’ve had in my adult life.

Halloween Wind Storm

It scattered seventy trees across or into Balsamea’s 2.5 miles of trails.   It’s seventy-give-or-take; I lost count a couple of times while stopping to think about how to deal with some of the fallen trees.  Thinking never has been a reliably good idea.  It often interferes with nobler processes, even vital ones.

The big winds came on Thursday and Friday, October 31 & November 1, 2019.  It is the biggest such storm tree impact in Balsamea’s 14.5-year history.  Before now, the biggest one was the “717 Storm” of July 17, 2012.

I’ll never forget the way my heart sank into my stomach when I found 33 trees on the trails on July 18, 2012.  Working on clearing them and rerouting paths around some of them — never with a chainsaw, which violates Balsamea law — I learned that it was good for me and good for the trails.  Often when I addressed a change that Nature threw onto a trail, the result was a better trail or connection to another trail.  I’m sure I don’t have to explain why it’s good for me to go work in the woods, for mind and body and whatever else I may be.

My little Cadivus story of September 7, 2018 explains the immersive experience of co-creating trails with Nature.  Handy excerpts if you don’t want to read the Cadivus post (I don’t blame you):

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Nuala’s Tree and Concordia

There are about 45 pictures on this page, including a few maps.  It may load slowly.  You can optionally open/download a PDF copy (6.24Mb) to read offline.

This is the only long post in this series on Concordia.  The rest have narrower topics and are mostly pictures and links.

Dear Nuala (NOO-lah),

I have less than two weeks before your visit, and too many other things to do, including figuring out how to fix the refrigerator that turned itself into a freezer today (M-m-m, frozen pickles), but I want to document something going on in the Balsamea woods that is about you, or because of you.  I want it to be on record, forever.  I also want to make sure you know about it, just in case your tour here doesn’t do this topic justice.

I’ve given you the pseudonym Nuala to protect you from the stigma of  associating with me, and to protect your privacy.  Even though only three or four other people will read this, if anybody, everybody on the Internet is a close neighbor with a fence to gossip over.

It’s a nice Irish name.  It came from Fionnuala (or Finnguala), notable in the popular Irish myth, The Children of Lir (PDF).  This presentation of the myth, with the art I added to it, a Thomas Moore poem, and extensive end-notes, may be the best treatment of the topic you’ll find.  Especially since you’re probably not looking anyway.  But seriously, it was a pile of work putting it together, and worth it.  It’s probably the best part of this post.  (It even has a naked picture of Nuala.)


Nuala (/ˈnuːlə/; Irish: [ˈn̪ˠuəl̪ˠə]) is an Irish female given name, derived from Irish mythology – being either a diminutive form of Fionnuala [or Fionnghuala] (“fair shoulder”), the daughter of Lir, or an alternate name for Úna (perhaps meaning “lamb”), wife of Finvarra, king of the fairies.  — from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuala


Fionnuala – In Irish mythology, Finnguala (modern spellings: Fionnghuala or Fionnuala; literally fionn-ghuala meaning “fair shoulder”) was the daughter of Lir of the Tuatha Dé Danann. In the legend of the Children of Lir, she was changed into a swan and cursed by her stepmother, Aoife, to wander the lakes and rivers of Ireland, with her brothers Fiachra, Conn and Aodh, for 900 years until saved by the marriage of Lairgren, son of Colman, son of Cobthach, and Deoch, daughter of Finghin, whose union broke the curse.[1] ‘The Song of Albion’, with lyrics by Thomas Moore[2] speaks of her wanderings.

The name is anglicized as Fenella. The shortened version Nuala is commonly used as a first name in contemporary Ireland.  — from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fionnuala


 

As you know, about ten years ago (maybe more, I’m not sure … the earliest photo I have is 2009), I dedicated a special maple tree to you, with your name.  Nuala’s tree (or just “Nuala Tree”) is now the centerpiece of a forest retreat with unique natural features and special relationships with many components of Balsamea’s trail network.

The place is called Concordia Park, or, as I’ll normally put it, just Concordia.

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Angel Wing Revisited

Back by popular demand, this is the “fixed” version of Angel Wing in the Stream posted earlier.  The PDF file here is MUCH smaller than before (80% smaller), so it should load much faster.  It is downloadable, so you can read it offline.  If you have a slow connection, it may still take a minute to load.  It is a 13Mb file.
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Getting Life in the Fresh Air (Nature Writers I Follow #3)

I suggest that you fellow admirers of nature writing explore the blog, Life in the Fresh Air; An exploration of life, nature, creativity and tai chi, authored by Sarah on the edge of the Lake District National Park in northwest England, including her work in “poems, photos, painting and writing, inspired by nature, landscape, gardening and tai chi.”

In particular, I recommend these two poems, the ones that first caught my attention:

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Good Again and Again

Human minds cling to negatives more than positives.  This helps us prepare for the next time a negative comes around, and lets us experience a positive anew again, unprepared for the pleasure.

Every year I marvel as in childhood, uplifted a little out of myself, as if it were my first time walking in the woods at night during the first accumulating snow of the season.

A Meditation on the Company of Trees, Aided by Forest Nymphs

During a slow sylvan saunter, if I stand still more than move, in bodily senses and in palpable transcendent essences I find reminders that nature made me to thrive among immortal woodland spirits, in refuge from the illusory blessings of merely mortal society.  I cannot exceed the company of trees, nor regret deep solitude among them.

Each phase of nature, while not invisible, is yet not too distinct and obtrusive. It is there to be found when we look for it, but not demanding our attention. It is like a silent but sympathizing companion in whose company we retain most of the advantages of solitude … — Henry David Thoreau, Journal, November 8, 1858

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A Short Hike at Debar Pond in Duane, NY

Debar 06b Pond_View_2

Debar Pond, a public natural resource in Duane, NY

Each phase of nature, while not invisible, is yet not too distinct and obtrusive. It is there to be found when we look for it, but not demanding our attention. It is like a silent but sympathizing companion in whose company we retain most of the advantages of solitude … –Henry David Thoreau, Journal, November 8, 1858

Warning: this article is 3,200 words; not a bloggism; a blogASM.
I warned you.  Now enjoy.

As the beautiful old song from The Sound of Music says:  “Climb every mountain / ford every stream / follow every rainbow / ’til you find your” swamp.

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Fern Lifts Leaf, Mind and Body

Another sample of Spring 2013 advancing.

One of our early ferns (May 6) did a little lifting on its way up.  Balsamea never stops entertaining us.

The leaf was gone the next day, so my camera-play had been lucky, leaving me with a souvenir of mindful woods-walking.

That’s what most of my photos from Balsamea are about: just taking time to notice what is really there.  It is a fun hobby to collect souvenirs to remember things, and to remind me to keep being mindful of them.  It is good medicine to mind and body.

However, sometimes I make a point of leaving the camera home, to “bathe” in the essence of the forest just for the sake of doing it, taking a lesson from my canine partner, being there just to be there, belonging there.

But Buddy has learned to pause the walk on his own when he sees the camera come out of its case.

A word about Balsamea’s snowshoe paths

Actually, it’s around 1058 words.

Originally I intended to let the snowshoe path pictures in my previous blog post speak for themselves.  Today, Pyrrhite’s comment on that post got me wondering about what makes Balsamea’s snowshoe paths so attractive to me that I popped off more than 200 snapshots hoping to get lucky in the handful I found worth posting here.

In pithy Pyrrhite style, I read, “I love snowshoe trails. Nothing much is quite as compelling.”  Why are they so compelling?  Okay, Py, you pulled the cord to muse up a scribblement.  Let’s see if I have the gas to shoot through it quickly, because I am supposed to be doing something else.  I may be a scribblement addict, and you an enabler.

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