"The Naturalist" by Barry Lopez
"SITTING BY THE RIVER, following mergansers hurtling past a few inches off its surface or eyeing an otter hauled out on a boulder with (in my binoculars) the scales of a trout glistening on its face, I ask myself not: What do I know?—that Canada geese have begun to occupy the nests of osprey here in recent springs, that harlequin ducks are now expanding their range to include this stretch of the river—but: Can I put this together? Can I imagine the river as a definable entity, evolving in time?"
Published in the Autumn 2001 issue of Orion magazine
Observations of place are overlayed with the memory of the place. What we see with the eyes becomes a sign for other, less tangible emotions. In her essay "Symptoms of Place " Barbara Blackman describes the process of feeling a place when as she is going blind. She says "...things seen so often that they are not seen at all- that resides in the inner eye, images of place that unconscious carriers of sentiment, evoking vaster memory." pp50,
Tredinnick, Mark (2003) "A place on earth : an anthology of nature writing from Australia"
The pots and the materials and images collected and the actions of collecting, making firing, and using are like one of those collapsible 1950's anodized cups, every time you think it's fully extended there is another layer. They record me, at this second, in the studio, throwing, my fingers and thoughts at 10.30 on September the 30th 2011, the gray flat sky and pairs of rainbow lorikeets flying overhead with their tinselly mating songs, the hot weekend with Mum and the girls bushcombing at Tin Can Bay. They record the beautiful Australian bush, the banksias, seeing my first Rainbow Bee Eater.
All the naturalists that I have been reading are aware of the fragility of each passing moment. Recorded observation of nature becomes a record the moment we leave the scene, it will never come again. I am trying to observe and record the beauty and transience of a moment. To truly watch nature brings an awareness of the complex beauty and mundane tragedy of transience. I guess that when you have watched long and carefully enough this wrenching sadness is alleviated by the constant promise of renewal.