I began my focus on the distant shoreline, across the Skokie River. It’s an inaccessible section of Forest Preserve; no bike, foot or horse trails. It’s my nature to want to go where I’m not allowed, where others have not trod. I want to explore the unexplored, which is difficult to do in our much settled Chicago area. So I veer off the bike trail and follow the foot trail which is dirt instead of paved and less traveled. It is early morning so I saw about sixty travelers (bikers, dog-walkers, hikers) along the paved bike trail, I was the only soul along the river’s edge (at least of the human kind).
Across the river showed exposed tree roots, a surprise because spring usually produces raised rivers holding winter’s melted snows and springs prolific rains spilling into the forest floor. Irises were close at the edge taking advantage of the wet environment, not yet ready to bloom. I focused on the old broken tree stump as a prominent point of interest. My ever wishful thoughts searched vainly for animal wildlife. This inaccessible area seems the perfect place to spot deer and other forest creatures, yet in twenty seven years I have yet to see any. But I admit that they are most probably deeper in this habitat, choosing not to be the people-tolerant deer that I so often observe on the trails.
Artists learn quickly that the eye is drawn to the lightest elements in the scene and use this to focus the viewer on their intended subject. I could not help but notice the morning sunlit Maple leaves on my side of the river just above me. The artist in me realigned the image and focused on these brilliantly lit leaves. The tree trunk and the distant river’s edge became the leaves’ complementing background, providing a sense of perspective.
As I enjoyed this quiet scene, rich in God’s bounty, I noticed that this latter image was showing many stages of the trees’ life cycles. The foreground leaves showed springs’ reawakening of hardy deciduous trees. The background displayed the final stages of tree life including stumps and fallen branches as well as current life in the tree roots. Somehow seeing and knowing nature’s ability to continue year after year through many and varied storms reassures me that it is right to believe that all is well and will be well in spite of life’s many trials.