Andrea Lani
Mother ~ Nature ~ Writer
a wind has blown the rain away and blown
the sky away and all the leaves away,
and the trees stand.  I think i too have known
autumn too long
~e.e. cummings
Early in September, I had the great good fortune to spend a week in quiet seclusion at an artist colony. There in my lakeside fairytale cottage (with cottages inhabited by four other artists near, but not too near, by), I wrote, read, and revised. I walked, swam, and sketched. The lake has long inspired artists and was among the subjects of bright, exuberant paintings by Marsden Hartley, whose work I saw on exhibit a few days after I returned from the retreat.

There for a week, I was insulated from real life, the demands of home and family, responsibility and accountability. With limited cell coverage and wifi only in the main lodge, I was also insulated from the never-ending cycles of tragedy and absurdity of our world. It was a privilege, I know, a welcome break, and also a reminder that my hanging on every news article and opinion piece does not change the trajectory of events, but does wear away at my well-being.

I returned home to a wedding, house guests, a party. And also to more tragedy: hurricane after hurricane after hurricane followed by yet another senseless, horrific mass shooting. So much suffering from events that could have been prevented, or mitigated, if we lived in a different world, where the profits of a few from fossil fuels and weapons did not supersede the lives of hundreds of human beings, the very future of our planet.

The artist colony shared its lakeside property with another tenant—the recently discovered tallest American chestnut. The tree rises 115 feet, although its trunk is not much more than a foot in diameter (far short of the ten to twelve-foot trunks of these giants' heyday). It somehow escaped the blight that was on its way to extinguishing one-quarter of the timber in the eastern United States at the time this tree was a seedling. The tree will lend its genes to the American Chestnut Foundation's efforts to develop a blight-resistant tree.

I find it confusing to be a member of a species who can, on one hand paint grand, gorgeous pictures, like Marsden Hartley, and work tirelessly to bring a species back from extinction, like the many individuals involved in the American Chestnut Foundation, and, in the other hand, hold the power of destruction of our entire species and those voiceless ones with whom we share this planet.

This self-destructive nature of ours seems counter to both evolution and the teachings of most religions. I don't have any words of wisdom, and very little hope, except that chestnut tree, which has survived a hundred years against all odds. When I saw it for the first time, I went up to it and put my arms around its trunk. And while hugging trees isn't going to change anything, any more than obsessive news-reading, it has a calming effect on the nerves.
Upcoming Workshops
Oct. 28: Fall Nature Journaling ~
Event Mapping, Viles Arboretum, Augusta 
Jan. 20: Winter Nature Journaling ~
Trees, Viles Arboretum, Augusta 

Plan a custom workshop
Recent Publications
"Thru-Hiking en Famille"
TrailGroove Magazine

"Pugnacious Beasts

More Writing 
Writing and Editing

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Literary Mama
I'm an editor in the Literary Reflections department at the online journal Literary Mama. We seek great essays about the intersection of motherhood and literature.
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Stop and hug a tree today, friends, get down eye-to-eye with a mushroom, hold your dear ones tight. 
~ Andrea
Copyright © 2017 Andrea Lani, All rights reserved.

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