You don’t have to know the name to see what you need to see
For this week’s artist date, I wandered in nature with my camera. Some subjects were old favorites, like the touch-me-knots, which I used to call popsie-doodles when I was a child. Their seed pods ready to burst open into a curlicue with a light touch.
Or the Pokeweed plants and their deep purple berries. I used to crush them to use as paint and the color matched my favorite syrup, boysenberry, ergo this plant was a boysenberry, which I believed was its name for many years.
But some names I didn’t know, like the tall, bushy mauve flowers or the yellow butterfly with black stripes or the caterpillar with spikes on its spikes.
A guide tells me the light purple flowers are Joe Pye weed. According to legend, Joe Pye was a Native American herbalist who used it to cure a variety of illnesses, including typhoid fever.
The butterfly appears to be a Tiger Swallowtail.
The spiny caterpillar appears to be a buck moth, which gets its name because it’s one of the few moths that fly during the day during deer season.
I went on the artist date this week intending to capture snapshots of nature to use as reference for drawing. But my curiosity demanded to know the names of what I saw and I did that research afterward. Now I know. And so do you.
But the real magic happened before I looked up the names of everything. The real magic was being in nature. I didn’t see Joe Pye weed or a tiger swallowtail or a buck moth caterpillar.
No, what I saw were mauve air castles nestled among verdant waves dappled with sunlight and shadow. I saw delicate yellow and black fairies dance around the parapets while an armor clad guard stood watch.
I saw summers long past filled with boysenberry painted faces and contests with my cousin to see who could get the most popsie-doodle pops. Seed pod curlicues tied into necklaces. Caterpillars collected and held captive while we witnessed them become whatever they were to become.
To see, we must forget the name of the thing we are looking at.”—Claude Monet
Until next week, all my love.