There are times when I enjoy an eye-to-eye inspection of those exotic plants, and by capturing their likeness with pencil or water media, I discover minute details that otherwise might be missed. I always walk away with deeper respect for the plant and its support cast of companions. – Lisa Brunetti, Zeebra Designs & Destinations
She says she does it with graphic media. Others do it with cameras or words or other forms of contemplation or meditation. It’s about attention and intention, and it yields a clearer sense, if only a glimpse at a time, of the true nature of things, their union with each other and ours with it all, and with each other. Lisa Brunetti expresses that sense in “pencil or water” media, and in words, and in photography.
In this series of posts (Nature Writers I Follow), I will salute (and recommend) some of the blogs I follow that inspire, inform or entertain my biophilic sensibility with their nature writing and related art. Truly, it is not the blogs I follow, but their writers. I appreciate these people for their awakening and supporting rational regard for humanity’s role in the natural order; i.e., part of it, not separate from it; in it, not above it.
I am amazed at how these obviously busy people I admire make time to write for us, share their art with us, and do it so well, free. Maybe it’s like the old saying goes: if you want to get something done, ask the busiest person. My lifestyle is too slow to get much done.
Challenged to choose the order of blogs to present here (who goes first?), I’m going with reverse alphabetical order.
That puts Zeebra Designs & Destinations at the top of the list, and today’s … um … “victim” of my attention: professional artist, author, naturalist and (in my view) philosopher Lisa Brunetti, resident adoptive sister to the soul of Ecuador. I’m just one of about 2,400 followers of her blog, no doubt from every curve of the earth (whoever came up with the idea of “corners of the earth?”).
In The Perennial Philosophy*, Aldous Huxley wrote, “All that we are and will and do depends, in the last analysis, upon what we believe the Nature of Things to be.” I believe Zeebra believes the Nature of Things to be beauty beyond measure.
A motto and wisdom saying of Zeebra is, “An artist’s eyes never rest.” So it’s no wonder that she sees brilliance and beauty in everything, even in tragic circumstances such as earthquake devastation of villages. She sees the souls of the villagers and captures them in photographs. She feels their ground of being and expresses it in paintings blazing with the colors of the culture. Her heart for the places and people of Ecuador and for the true nature of things inspire her art and her writing too deeply for me to describe or understand. You have to go see it for yourself.
In the woods, is perpetual youth. Within these plantations of God, a decorum and sanctity reign, a perennial festival is dressed, and the guest sees not how he should tire of them in a thousand years. — Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature
“A perennial festival,” he said. That’s how I see Zeebra’s translation of the “decorum and sanctity” of nature into her art and writing, how her artist’s eyes not only never rest, but they see and absorb the festival and bring it to us in images drenched in delight.
A few favorite recent Zeebra blog posts:
Timeout for Art: Imagination vs Scientific Seriousness – Zeebra talks about how nature inspires her approaches to art, with examples, and a little about her early inspiration.
In Celebration of Trees – If you like trees or nature writing, don’t miss this article and art embodying the William Blake thought, “The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see Nature all ridicule and deformity, and some scarce see Nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, Nature is Imagination itself.” – 1799, The Letters. This post is a smorgasbord of inspired nature writing quotations accompanied by Zeebra works. You know this is a brilliant post, because it quotes Balsamea’s motto! … “And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.” – William Shakespeare, As You Like It. And there are gems like this: “Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come.” – Chinese proverb.
Remembering 6:58 P.M. — April 16, 2016 – ” Imagine what it must have been like to wonder, ‘Did we just have an earthquake?’ as the twilight faded into the night, and then be jolted into a nightmare that shattered the coastline.”
These selections don’t begin to probe the richness of Zeebra’s posts.
Thank you, Lisa Brunetti, Ecuador’s loving Zeebra. I’m lucky to have met you through your works and our correspondence. Now a few other people can, too. I urge them to visit, explore and subscribe to Zeebra Designs & Destinations.
Dennis Koenig, “The Balsamean,” only because I’m not alone in its roots, united, interwoven with so many I rely upon for insight, inspiration, education and even some hope for this planet and humanity. That’s the idea behind this “Nature Writers I Follow” series. Their kind of sharing of their relationships with nature, with “the nature of things,” may be the core of our salvation.
(I’m not in any way affiliated with or related to Ms. Brunetti. Just a follower.)
* – About the Perennial Philosophy, in Huxley’s words:
Philosophia Perennis — the phrase was coined by Leibniz; but the thing — the metaphysic that recognizes a divine Reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds; the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical with, divine Reality; the ethic that places man’s final end in the knowledge of the immanent and transcendent Ground of all being — the thing is immemorial and universal. Rudiments of the Perennial Philosophy may be found among the traditionary lore of primitive peoples in every region of the world, and in its fully developed forms it has a place in every one of the higher religions. – Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy
I’ve read this book four times and led a discussion group about it. Fair warning: it’s not an easy read. It took me three readings to begin to get a grip on it. But it’s worth the effort. You can download it free at archive.org, but I don’t know how you can read this kind of thing without scribbling marginalia in it, and with a dictionary at your side.