Shri Jasnath Asan, Rajasthan, India
Photo © Shri Jasnath Asan, 2016
11 DEC 2016
Our next foray into the nexus of environmental education and art was a class to designed to help us become more aware of the myriad shapes of leaves. We first introduced our kids to the basics of leaf morphology and opened their eyes by giving names to, veination patterns, leaf shapes, and differences in leaf margins.
Then came the great tree safari … we packed up our cameras and our newly minted powers of observation and visited 5 sacred trees on the ashram grounds. (I’ll introduce you to those trees in a later post) We found each tree had leaves that were distinct. Each tree had its own personality and its own way it “made its living” in the world. We collected leaves from each and came back to record and draw what we found in our journals.
I loved showing the kids and opening their eyes to subtle differences in the trees that they had never noticed before. Seeing alone is not enough. The framework and structure that knowledge and experience provides, allows us to extend our vision far past what the eyes can see. It is a reciprocal process between the eyes and the mind; what the eyes see adds to our knowledge and knowledge sharpens our visual acuity.
The same was true when we were bird watching. I call it “gaining a super power.” Now what was once a small blurred bird in flight with a flash of white on its head and yellow beneath its tail, can suddenly be transformed by your "super power" of sight and knowledge into a perfect image of a White-eared Bulbul in our minds. This is the way we expand our ability to see the natural world. It is an amazing gift.
Terry tempest Williams once said:
“When you say there is nothing out there, what you are really saying is that I cannot see.”
Words worth considering.
Along the Way
Panchla Siddha, India
Sharon K. Schafer
I paint, photograph, and speak about wild places in an act of reciprocity that is as vital to me as heartbeat or breath.
My interest in the magic and mystery of the natural world lies at the intersection of art and science.
Made possible through
the generosity of
Artists for Conservation
Generous support and inspiration provided by
Shri Jasnath Asan