Last week I spent a lovely few hours at the Morton Arboretum, located in the western suburbs of Chicago. En route, I swung by the car wash. As I put my car in neutral and moved toward the spraying water and whirling scrubbers, I decided to close my eyes in order to experience it with my other senses. I even went a step further, pretending it was my first time in a car wash.
Wow! It was like being in a terrible storm, with water and “things” pummeling the sides and top; the car shaking a little from the force. At the end when the air blowers were drying the car, the roof flexed and made a loud pop.
Continuing my "sensory enlightenment” at the MA, I made a point of focusing all my senses as I walked through the prairie and nearby woods. Here are some things I noticed/experienced:
1. The environment was lively with the sound of bird song and insects. I particularly enjoyed the clicks, whistles, and trills of red-wing blackbirds.
2. Oak leaves illuminated with sunshine. There’s just something about a glowing leaf…
3. I met a volunteer (named Cindy) who was wandering around the prairie doing a dragonfly count. Wearing a sun hat and carrying a clip-board, she was the poster child for “I am happy and serene.”
4. The sudden coolness of the air as I left the prairie and entered an oak forest. The air felt sensuous on my sun-warmed skin.
5. Dappled sun caressing a dense covering of native plants rising 2’ - 3’ from the forest floor.
6. Chipmunks zipping here and there.
7. Interesting combinations of leaf textures and shapes.
8. Native wildflowers, such as clover and daisies, adding dots of color to the landscape.
9. While passing a marsh, I heard loud croaking (and I do mean loud) from an unseen bullfrog that must have been HUGE. (I imagine the lady frogs were swooning and making plans.)
10. Tall grasses with seed pods swaying in the breeze. Is there anything more graceful?
11. The air smelled delicious—sweet and grassy.
12. The architectural shapes of old oaks--gnarled brown beings with limbs stretched wide, standing watch through the centuries.
It was a fun exercise that left me feeling creatively focused—and especially grateful for the gifts all around us.
Where do you go for inspiration?