Happy Birthday USA
The beauty of the morning sky today reminded me of the paintings in the Hudson River School. It was "the first coherent school of American art," and came into being in the mid 1800's. It seems like a good day to pay tribute to an American historic movement.
When I was in college I had the great privilege of taking a couple of classes in the History of Art department. My favorite part was when I got to go into the museum which housed many original works of art that we were studying - just a short walk from my dormitory.
That was when I fell in love with the Hudson River School paintings - Thomas Cole, Frederick Church, Asher Durand. My college major was American Studies, and it was exciting and eye-opening for me to learn how American art reflected the spirit of reverence for the untouched natural world, exploration, discovery, courage, and grand dreams.
Their reverence for wilderness and the awe-inspiring landscapes in nature, untouched by humankind, is evident on almost every canvas. Our philosophies have shifted over the last hundred and fifty years or so. In the Hudson River paintings, man often holds a central place, even if he is small. Nowadays we are still in awe of the diminishing places on Earth where man has not yet made his mark. We watch National Geographic's Planet Earth series and gasp in wonder. It is not unlike what those early Americans felt when in the presence of the untouched wilderness - but for them, it was just beyond their neighborhoods, or right outside their doors.
Now, most people can only see these places by watching them on TV. There have surely been dramatic changes in our society as we have conquered all of the wilderness against which we used to struggle. Our sense of reverence and awe for the world in its natural state has largely been removed from our lives, and it is to our detriment.
I got a photo of the duck flurry across the pond this morning - but it is a blur. They are quick - and elusive! Instead I give you my doggie friends, who would happily stay outside all day in the nice dirt excavation they created under our giant spruce tree.