Ruskin’s Rock.

I braved the wind and rain of the weekend to walk in the woods. Black wood peckers drummed on tall trees, leaves whirled yellow sparks and my favourite rock nestled in the embrace of old roots.

I love the complexity of this rock, the shattered up turned layers of brown thrown against the smooth white Jurassic limestone, held hard in the gnarled pine roots.

John Ruskin loved rocks and drew them meticulously. He taught a generation to observe and to reverence them in nature and in the structures we made from them and the ruins time returned them to.

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The Great Piece of Turf

My garden is now officially shut. I glimpse it darkly as I feed the morning birds and sense it fleetingly as I peel the potatoes for dinner, but the rest is darkness between work.

So I turn again to representations of the green I cannot see on  a work day in November and the most wonderful of all is Albrecht Dürer’s Great Piece of Turf.

This water colour was painted in 1503 in Germany and the detail and precision surpasses any digital photo I have ever seen. Dürer is more often remembered for the remarkably messianic self portraits of his undeniably commanding and attractive face; but this small picture contains the whole natural world in all its multifarious, magnificent complexity. Here are  the grasses; the lace edged tansy leaf; the seeding dandelion flowers and fleshy clasping plantain leaves. Here is the view from the ground, the vole’s eye view; an unnervingly clear eyed botanist’s view, who understood how marvelously interlinked and nuanced the living world is and reproduced it in this unassuming  slice of perfection for ever.81927DFF-8E14-4E40-A94E-C699DEF4AF41