I took these photos before haze from the wildfires raging out west drifted in, dimming the sky's intense blue. These glorious North American prairie natives look like they've evolved specifically to highlight a stunning blue sky and spark the rest of us to do good things. Scorching wildfires and haze may have dimmed the sky's radiant blue, but back in the studio, I remember that blue. I remember the prairie. Be sure to check out my paintings at the bottom of the page.
Deep summer. Mosquitoes and butterflies. Fireflies. Japanese beetles. Woods are loudly green and prickly. Sweet corn and summer squash. Pup dozes on cool floor. Deer munch green beans to the very last pod. Cicadas hum. First ripe tomato. Anise hyssop. Purple coneflower. Daylilies. Swimming at Salmo Pond. Pulling weeds. Speckled fledgling robins, baby skunks, and adolescent foxes gorge on fallen mulberries. Here comes the basil. Pesto. Yum. Homemade dill pickles. Hammock in the shade. Waiting for a cool breeze.
Drought. Floods. Wildfires. Diminishing food security. Increased competition for potable water. Aquifer contamination. Record-setting heat. Largest reservoirs down 60%. Sea level rise. Habitats destroyed. Bird and bee populations plummet. Mass extinctions. Crumbling infrastructure. Poverty. Political division. Uprisings. Suppression. Pandemic. Corporate greed. A plethora of -isms. Arrogance. Ignorance. Denial. Indecision. Inaction.
As they say, if you're not worried, you're not paying attention. Honest-to-goodness, while elated with summer's splendor, I continue to be appalled by the overarching idiocy of my own species. Don't worry, I'm not buying into the doomsday thing, either. Fear and hopelessness drain power and ability to act. And it's the beauty, activism, and innovation that I still see all around me every day that inspire hope—the sky in 2050 will be blue.
The challenges we face are not insurmountable. When we love something, we work to protect it from harm. If you're able, I hope you'll take an opportunity to volunteer in or support local public lands wherever you live, in whatever way you can. Convert some of your yard or neighborhood park to native plantings, or just grow edibles on your balcony. Or specifically, help with local prairie restoration here and here. Or actively work to make Earth a better place in any of these 25 ways (be sure not to miss #13!).
Please share with those around you (including me!), the steps you're taking, large or small, toward blue skies and a healthy tomorrow for all of Earth's beings. We need each other's encouragement. And we need to hold corporations, as well as local, state, and federal officials, accountable. Thanks for taking the time to read this. I appreciate you.
Artist and naturalist Michelle Louis has a vigorous curiosity about the natural world. Her abstract landscape paintings cultivate connection to the lands she explores.
©2021 Michelle Louis All rights reserved. Content and images are property of the artist.