In the magazine Nautilus, Mary Ellen Hannibal writes about the author Vladimir Nabokov and his study of butterflies: “Nabokov once wrote that, had he not left Russia, he might have spent his life entirely on lepidoptery, and not fiction.” It was in Nabokov’s hometown of Vyra that his father introduced him to butterflies and, having left Russia forever, he longed for home for his whole life. In her article, Hannibal asks, “So, at heart, was Nabokov a scientist or an artist? Asked that question once, he expressed puzzlement: ‘There can be no science without fancy,’ he replied, and ‘no art without facts.'”
Artists have been responding to nature since our human beginnings. Being grounded in the natural world makes for art that’s located in the real, which is an ideal springboard into imagination, the natural world being infused with mystery. The earth provides something actual to work with, to respond to, to springboard from. A fine way to get to know a place is to engage and interact with it intimately, and making art will do that for us. Especially in Spring!