I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I wrote anything up here.
No, I lie. I can absolutely believe it. This is why I don’t blog…
Anyway, although the site has been lonely, I’ve actually been pretty busy. You know, making things. I replaced my trusty old Macbook with a Surface Book, which means digital painting is now SO much easier.
I’ll have some more art to post once I replace my broken scanner, and some photography from my trip to California last year (Redwoods and volcanoes!) once I carve out some time for it.
Mostly, though, I’ve been writing. And by writing, I mean I’ve been in editing hell.
That’s write (haha). 150,000 words of pure awesome, and that’s after I cut almost 20,000 words from that bad boy. But now he’s polished and trim(ish) and ready to be thrown into the world, like a reluctant dragon hatchling tossed from its nest!
More on that fun adventure later. For now, it’s November, and I should be writing.
Last week I took a much needed break from the internet. I spent the weekend painting and relaxing with my family and just kind of ignored the rest of the world. It was extremely nice. I recommend it heartily.
Anyways, for Earth Day I worked on something special:
This year’s piece represents (obviously) the ocean, and more specifically the coral reefs, which are dying or in danger as the oceans warm. Coral reefs are the most life-rich, biodiverse parts of the ocean. Without them, dozens of species will die out.
I just realized this post failed to publish, so it’s officially a week after Earth Day. But Earth Day should be every day!
To be fair, I had things planned, but depression kicked me hard in the teeth for a week and a half. I wasn’t able to draw or write much at all last week. The only thing I managed to accomplish was pushing out a chapter on my serial, and only because it was mostly written already.
Enough of that. Depression sucks. If you’ve been through it, you know what I mean. If not, I’m not your research assistant and I don’t like personal essay. Google it.
Anyway, I’m starting to feel like myself again (anxious, easily distracted and prone to sudden bursts of song), so despite the absolute mountain of work I’ve been avoiding, I decided to take a few moments and write this first.
Saturday is Earth Day. As I’ve said before, it’s always been important to me, but it’s even more so this year, because so much of our home is threatened.
Here’s the thing. We are in bad shape. The Great Barrier Reef is dying. Temperatures have risen enough that we’re looking at a possible mass extinction. The ocean is littered with plastic that will take centuries to decompose. This is not even mentioning that chemicals from our garbage leak into our waterways and food sources, that pollution increases the incidence of respiratory diseases and that the soil itself suffers from the changing climate.
I know people are skeptics. Whether its the fear of being “taken in” by a hoax, fear of change, or just fear that it is real, a lot of people just don’t want to talk about it. DOn’t even want it mentioned. Some of these folks actively hate people for talking about it. I guess it’s easier to deny a problem exists than to sacrifice what we want to fix it.
You can’t have success without hard work, and you should always leave a place better than you found it. That’s what my southern baptist parents always taught me, and I do my best to hold to it. The Earth is no different, and it’s where we live. Take pride in it. Take care of it.
P.S. I’ve included some links to reputable environmental charities if you’d like to donate. If you feel more comfortable donating to a National Park, I’m sure they’d appreciate the help as well.
Yesterday we had a “severe weather watch,” which in Alabama is usually synonymous with “Spring.”
Nevertheless, the threat was enough that schools were closed, and the southeast as a whole is glad the bad weather didn’t live up to its potential.
Hereabouts, we got a deluge all morning (and by deluge, I mean an outright onslaught of rain), and then we had a nice, quiet few hours before a brief, violent spate of hail in the afternoon. Apart from rushing outside to get the dog in before he’s pelted with tiny ice bullets, it was an uneventful day. We didn’t have to hide in the bathtub once!
Anyway, it got me thinking about storms, and weather in general.
Storms are the main reason for the phrases “a force of nature,” and “an act of God.”
With all the technology we have–storm shelters, weather modeling, mass communication, emergency response–we’ve done a lot to mitigate the damage storms do. But despite everything, we can’t overcome the incredible force of a tornado, or predict the site of the next lightning strike. We do what we can to pick up the pieces, but we’re no match for the mindless, destructive force of our planet.
Maybe that’s why we’re so fascinated by them. Because, like a god, a storm is unpredictable, unfathomable, and unassailable. Beautiful and terrible. (Like Galadriel with the One Ring, my inner nerd adds. That’s what I get for trying to be poetic.)
But that’s part of life. And not just part of our lives, as something we have to deal with, like taxes or laundry. It’s part of the system that makes life possible.
Life has to change to exist. One season we get floods, and the next we have a drought. And the dry season reminds us how much we need the rain, even if that sometimes comes with lightning and floods.
What we don’t want to forget is that the cycle is also a balance. If it gets thrown off-kilter
far enough, the effects will be more devastating than any hurricane. Thanks to climate change, we’ve already experienced record heat, historic droughts and flooding in coastal cities (Louisiana, for example). While massive superstorms have always and will always exist, changing climate leads to changing weather patterns.
It’s one of many reasons we should be conscious of our choices and habits: to protect the one environment that sustains life.
But let’s end on some fun. Storms are cool, right? Images of massive storm fronts, tsunamis, lightning, erupting volcanos are some of the coolest photographs out there.
That’s why things like storm chasers exists. Because they’re so awesome, right? And because humanity has a strange attraction to things that can kill you…
Anyway, inclement weather might be inconvenient, but it can be wonderful, too. Rainy days are great for sleeping in, or reading in a comfy spot near a window. I also have to admit, I haven’t outgrown the joy of splashing in puddles, provided I can put dry socks on afterward.
And let’s not forget snow! If you’re a Southern girl like me, you can appreciate a good snowfall. I mean, we still talk about that one time it snowed three feet in ’93. I almost lost my sister in a snowdrift. Any time you get enough snow to make more than one snowball, it’s time for celebration.
I mean, they make oxygen, for one, and produce some seriously delicious food. Oranges. Pecans. Olives. They absorb carbon dioxide, help cool the planet, and they’re just so beautiful. Bonus: just being around trees can improve your mental health.
It’s no wonder that trees have been used as symbols of life, wisdom and regeneration literally since people have used symbols. To the Norse, the universe was depicted as a massive, world-spanning tree. Much of Druidism centered on the lore of trees, and sacred Shinto sites are often marked by trees or surrounded by forested landscape. In the Bible, a tree serves as a metaphor for spiritual growth, among many other things.
Trees are the best.
Trees are probably my favorite thing to draw. It’s a kind of meditation for me, when I’m too tense to focus. I start with a vague idea of a tree and let it grow on the paper, sprouting leaves and roots without forethought or planning. Only after its taken form do I trim and sculpt it into shape.
So here, late this Tuesday evening, I share with you today’s endeavor.
It took a bit of yesterday and most of today, which is why I’m sitting here typing at 11 PM. But I enjoyed it immensely. Be back tomorrow.
PS: If you’re one of those people who enjoy coloring, I’m also offering the line art as a coloring page here.
It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that I love being outside.
Despite the fact that most of the trees and grass are trying to kill me (thanks, allergies!), there’s nowhere I’d rather be than out in the woods on a sunny day. Except maybe the lake. As a kid, my sister and I spent hours in the woods across the street, and more outside at home, staging lightsaber battles and turning the yard into our own imaginary country. Most of our family vacations were either hiking in the Smoky Mountains, camping or weekends at the lake. My dream vacation is going to see the Redwood forest in California, and not just because it’s basically visiting Endor (We also used to pretend the swings were speeder bikes. Didn’t everyone?)
Sadly, I’ve never been successful at gardening, but that’s neither here nor there.
I’ve written all that to say this: the natural earth is the most precious resource we have.
Our forests, our oceans, the rivers and soil–these are things we cannot do without. The incredible, diverse and wonderful species that populate are planet are irreplaceable. Life is so amazing and rare that we haven’t yet found it anywhere else.
April 22 is Earth Day. Most people don’t really “celebrate” it as such, or if they do, it’s a brief, “Yay, Earth!” or “I guess I’ll recycle something today.” But our Earth is our home. I mean, we also have a whole day for the ratio of a circle’s circumference to diameter (I’m not bashing Pi day, guys. Any excuse to eat pie, amirite?). I kinda feel like the planet deserves more than a “cheers” and a hashtag.
This year, I’m going to do something new. Every day this month (except the ones I already missed, oops), I’m going to share something in honor of our Earth. I’ll also have something special to share on Earth Day.
Today I’m sharing this colored pencil sketch I did this morning. I wanted to start with something optimistic.