When I was young we would visit with my out of town grandparents. It was a trip that always held the anticipation for having good times, being spoiled, and a change from the home life routine.
After a week, as most kids probably discover, it became not as much fun. My bike was at home, friends were missed, and the few toys at Grandma and Grandpa’s were minimal. However, there were a stack of Arizona Highway magazines.
It was this magazine’s glossy and beautiful photographs of cacti, canyons, and sunsets that led me to appreciate the beauty in landscape. I did not realize as an eight year old, the power those images would have over the course of my life. It never dawned on me to ask why my stoic North Dakota grandparents would subscribe to a magazine about Arizona.
I came to realize that landscape is fascinating because landscapes define how we live, how we travel, and how we organize ourselves. Landscapes can be a powerful force in shaping our emotional world of sensations and moods. They change with seasons and with time. My interest in Arizona landscapes captured my curiosity for another place and tapped into my evolving definition of beauty.
I have never lived in Arizona. The awakening to landscape led to finding my own favorite places in landscape. Even though I started with the awe of red rock canyons my interest in landscape today is with smaller more compact places, a trail through the woods, the single leaf on rocks, the color palette of a fall leaf, quiet things. I still stand in awe of grandeur but I focus on the power of landscape when captured in quiet places.
Grounding ourselves in the natural world can nourish our imagination, maybe that is the real power of landscape. Landscape will never disappoint me, but I know I can disappoint in trying to express what landscape has to say.
Thanks for reading!