Artist and naturalist Michelle Louis has a vigorous curiosity about the natural world. Her abstract landscape paintings document life, well-spent, in wild places.
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While walking on woods' edge under an ever-changing cloudscape, skirting prairie blooming with purple spiderwort (Tradescantia sp.) and false white indigo (Baptisia lactea), an iridescent shot of blue swept across my field of vision. It was quickly followed by a sweet, familiar song not 10 feet away... I see you perched, tiny slice of sky set free.... How can you be so delicate and magnificent all at once? The sight and song of the Indigo bunting (Passerina cyanea) seemed an auspicious welcome to summer.
The Indigo bunting, member of the cardinal family, is a seasonal visitor to Wisconsin. When migrating to and from Central America, primarily at night, this blue-feathered jewel uses the stars to navigate. Here in its northern home, it inhabits the ecotone between woods and prairie. You can listen to its song here.
A large, 48"x 67" minimalist painting I recently finished reminds me of this song of summer as performed by our avian friends under rolling white clouds. It's called Birdsong through Partly Cloudy Skies. Can you "see" it?
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Over his lifetime, we walked between 10,000-15,000 miles, just the two of us, in wild places, unfettered by leashes or rules. That's a lot of miles. On these wanders, he taught me that living in the moment is all that matters and doing that is as simple as enlivening and following our senses. He helped raise our boys, made us laugh, and filled spaces in our lives we didn't know existed. He loved us every single day without a thought. The feeling was mutual. I miss him.
Our son, Alex Bauch, wrote an apt tribute. With his permission-
Some millennia before the end of the last Ice Age, humans forged an unlikely partnership with a species strikingly similar to modern wolves. This interspecies alliance was the first of its kind, the very first domestication. As the bonds between early dogs and humans grew stronger, we sculpted their genome to reflect our vision of a perfect companion. It is plausible to speculate that dogs modified the evolution of our species in return, and it is beyond question that they continue to shape us as individuals.
I don’t have words to describe how privileged I am to have participated in one of nature’s most venerated traditions for 14 terrific years with this dog. A simple tribute seems fitting, and there really is no better praise for man’s best friend. Good boy, Merl.