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IMG_1898I still remember my first assignment as a 10th grade art student. My teacher herded us outside and set us down on the concrete patio adjacent to our classroom, and instructed us to draw. I looked around, and picked a subject: a ratty bush directly in front of me. Leaning up against the side of the building, pencils in hand, I carefully outlined the curves of the branches, and filled in the shape with bright green leaves. My teacher peered over my shoulder. “It’s good,” she said. “But do you notice anything else about the color of the leaves?”

I looked again. The leaves were still green. I shrugged my shoulders.

She instructed me to look closely. Is green really all I see? Is any color really what it seems?IMG_1894


The easiest way to take yourself from being a poor artist to passable is to look a little closer, and to notice that green is really not so green. Trees are not green, grass is not green.  In each of these, there are a million other colors in that will never be captured by a single colored pencil. The blue of the sky is reflected in shadows, the play of light gives golden highlights to each sunlit leaf. In this way all nature performs together to create one perfect, harmonious picture.

Once you start seeing the world in full color, You’ll never again return to the monotone green grass you once knew. 

IMG_1896You’ll begin to notice all the flowers hidden underneath the tall grass, with their cheerful faces turned up bravely to the sky. 

And if you’re lucky you’ll meet this little blue swallow, whose looks out on the world with fierce curiosity.IMG_1893You’ll see beyond the greenish waters near the bank–made so by the thick moss growing on the rocks below–and greet the turtle before he dives back into the blue.IMG_1899On the opposite bank, duck families are paddling out for their afternoon exercise. The tiny ones, in suits of mottled yellow and brown, hop and trip over the flower stalks as they make their way toward the water’s edge.IMG_1911 And nearby, this red-faced friend gives his wings a defiant stretch after losing an embarrassing battle over pond territory to a pair of geese. IMG_1913All these things you would miss if you chose to only see the world in green.

A single gentle rain makes the grass many shades greener. So our prospects brighten on the influx of better thoughts. We should be blessed if we lived in the present always, and took advantage of every accident that befell us, like the grass which confesses the influence of the slightest dew that falls on it; and did not spend our time in atoning for the neglect of past opportunities, which we call doing our duty. We loiter in winter while it is already spring. In a pleasant spring morning all men’s sins are forgiven. Such a day is a truce to vice. While such a sun holds out to burn, the vilest sinner may return.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Spring



Post Prompted by The American Resident as part of her weekly “Where I Live” Linkup.