After spending a month hugged between the vast waters of the Pacific Ocean and the tottering peaks of the Rocky Mountains, I was once again reminded of the colossal physique of this planet.
‘But what of this observation?’ I thought some days later as I stood at the foot of General Sherman in the Sequoia National Park. ‘For beneath the roots of this tree, the largest on earth, resides a community of microorganisms so invaluable that their existence dwarfs my being. Now, that is size.’
Johnny admiring the butterflies at Bristol Zoo Gardens, England. Acrylic on Canvas (Daniel Graham)
Swooping from plant to plant, the butterflies of Bristol Zoo Gardens are quite marvelous to watch. Catching Johnny’s eye, a glasswinged butterfly dances through the humidity of the house and lands on a banana plant. He gazes up at the lepidoptera, its wings transparent, its proboscis curled.
I painted this portrait of Johnny with the ambition of capturing the studious and captivated look marked across the entirety of his face.
Do we live for ourselves and die for each other?
We set up camp at the foot of Mont Thabor. To our east lay Italy and to our west France. Not far from our tent, a rocky chasm, like the gullet of a large beast, swallowed bowls of churning water as the larch trees about our persons swayed in a mellow breeze. The afternoon was warm and our minds placid.
With my bare feet cushioned above the short, springy grass, I was surprised to see a bottle fly – metallic-jade and cobalt across its thorax – drop dead from the air. The insect landed close to my toes, on its back and motionless. A minute or two later, a lone ant turned up at the scene, soon joined by an army of a dozen or more. Heaving, lifting and guiding, it wasn’t long before the fly, and indeed the squadron of well-organised ants, disappeared out of sight.
Do we – organisms – live for ourselves and die for each other?
It’s with the trees that I am truly comfortable
How filled I was with rum and whiskey and how sad I felt – as we made our way along the moonlit pavements of Victoria – to see five grand deer stepping hesitantly across the concrete. Indeed, with my blood so heavily infected with liquor, the sorrow of the sight brought me close to tears. The city isn’t good for them – the deer – just as it isn’t for me. But we persist, for one reason or another, against our yearnings.
One day I hope for my instincts and my actions to immaculately align; one day I want to see these very five deer deep in the Island forest.