Reconnecting

I went plein air painting with my uncle yesterday. The morning heated up quickly in Denver, and by the time we hit the road around noon it was ninety degrees. As we approached the town of Morrison, a menacing expanse of thunderclouds hovered above the mountain range. The temperature cooled as we ascended the hill. From the passenger seat, I looked at the watercolor clouds swirling above us.

We parked the car and walked a short distance in a canyon’s path that ran along a mountain stream. The sound of running water, leaves rustling in the wind and fresh air made my anxiety disappear with every breath I took. We found a spot not too far away from the car and set up our easels. I took my time, thinking the weather might turn on us. Soon, my uncle was fully immersed in his painting while I sketched out some ideas and compositions. Half an hour later, I thought I felt a drop of rain on my hand which was followed by a smattering of additional drops. We quickly packed up our gear and I hurried for the car while my uncle took some pictures of the view he was working from. I was about 75 yards away from him and almost to the car when the rain began to get heavier, falling in light sheets against the backdrop of evergreens. The water patted the brim of my cowboy hat with increasing intensity as my uncle quickened his pace to the car. I opened the trunk and shoved my wet gear in it as he approached. By the time he got to the vehicle, I was already in the passenger seat as the rain fell freely.

We sat in the car and conversed as the cloudburst continued. Not even fifteen minutes later it began to taper off. We got out of the car and inspected the sky to determine if the rain would return and concluded it had likely passed, in spite of the gray skies that remained. Again, we returned to set up our easels in the same spot we had fled from earlier. Soon after I began to work again, I realized I was just pushing paint on paper. I just wasn’t feeling anything creatively. Instead of fighting through it, I put my brushes down and headed toward the stream.

I found a giant rock that appeared to be perfect for me to sit on, as it was closer to the belly of the river. I climbed a series of smaller ones to reach it and was soon perched on my new seat. It wasn't long before I found the rhythm of the water as it rushed behind me, passing beneath my feet, and continued to drift on down the mountain. I felt completely at ease and connected to the earth. I closed my eyes and meditated. As I silenced my thoughts, I began to understand the lesson of the day had little to do with any tangible work I created. This was a day for finding new seeds of creativity and merely observing them: seeing them; knowing them. This was my time to visualize possibilities without acting on them and more importantly, reconnecting with nature. I merely needed to listen and once I did, I felt passion and love coursing through my veins once again, just as effortlessly as the water was flowing all around me.