October 8, 2019

Walk to a Park

        October 10 is National Walk to a Park Day (not to be confused with National Take a Walk In a Park Day on March 30).  The point of this day is to highlight the importance of having  accessible parks, as measured by being within a ten minute walk of home.  Where I live we have one wooded natural park about 10 minutes away, plus two school playgrounds and some playing fields in other directions.  It is a rare day that I don’t walk through or past one of them, and we also have about 4 larger parks within a 5 minute drive.  To highlight the importance these parks have for me, today I’m sharing just a few of the many pieces I’ve made over the years based on photos or sketches taken at parks.
        We’ll start with a fern, commemorating the fact that I learned to identify dozens of species of ferns while walking through parks, and have always loved ferns.  This is a beech fern, which can be seen in parks and natural areas throughout the US and much of Canada.  It never fails to be lovely.
        I confess that I don’t remember whether this particular dragonfly was spotted in my own yard or at our nearby park.  For years I took my camera to the park and photographed dozens and dozens of dragonflies of all colors and patterns, as well as photographing them in my garden.  One (or more?) of those photos became the basis of this wood block print.  I also photographed all manner of other bugs, birds, plants, and flowers.  That was before I had a phone with camera, and if you have a phone camera with you all the time there’s really no excuse for failing to stop and admire all the small natural happenings that are busy at even the smallest, most urban park.
        Sometimes some of the nature even follows you home -- but hopefully not ticks!  I really hate ticks, even if they are part of Nature, but I am rather fond of cockleburs, which some people consider to be just as much of a pest.  I made this print as an X for my botanical alphabet, because the cocklebur’s scientific genus is xanthium, and I enjoy seeing them growing in more overgrown, meadowy parkland.
        Finally, one of my favorite denizens of our local park, the painted turtle.  I always look for them, especially on sunny days in the spring, and they never fail to cheer me up if I see them on their log poking out of the water.  Some of the reference photos for this print were actually taken at a couple of other parks in eastern Massachusetts that we visited at various times.  I especially love the ones with boardwalk paths that go through wetlands so that I can get a little closer into the turtles’ favored habitats.
        These are far from my only pieces inspired by parks.  I’ve done many wildflowers and birds, a frog, a bee, a grasshopper, park benches, and more.  The fact is that people need parks.  We need to be able to get amongst some plants, from grass, to flowers, to trees, and to feel bedrock and dirt underfoot.  It may seem like a minor thing, but it really is important that everyone have convenient access to local parks.  Think about it, walk to your local park on the 10th (or maybe on the weekend, if that’s when you get a chance), and be sure to speak up to save the parks you have, and create new ones for those who have none.

[Pictures: Broad Beech Fern, wood block print with chine collé by AEGN, 1997;
Dragonfly, wood block print by AEGN, 2006;
Cocklebur, rubber block print by AEGN, 2007;
Ten Turtles, rubber block print by AEGN, 2013.]

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