Colors of the Earth - jwardenphotography
This article was originally published in the Spring 2012 edition of Nature Alberta Magazine.
By John Warden

Most of the snow is gone now. It’s that time of early spring when the grass is a dirty, dusty brown. Lifeless. Crunchy even. 

Except for one yard. There, the lawn is green, bright green. It’s always that color. Even under the snow in the dead of winter, the lawn is bright green. It’s artificial of course. A manufactured lawn of some sort of synthetic, chemical based, plastic like substance, no doubt.

From ‘the glass is half full’ perspective, there must be something good about an artificial lawn. The only thing I can think of though is that you wouldn’t have to mow it. But then, you also don’t ‘get’ to mow it. And when you’re done, you don’t ‘get’ to walk barefoot through the fresh cut grass. There’s also that cycle of life thing, you don’t ‘get’ to see your grass come back to life, changing from dirty dusty brown to a lush a vibrant green that is full of life and energy. 

Real grass breathes, producing oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide. I don’t know what kind of off-gassing there would be from a yard full of plastic, synthetic green stuff cooking in the afternoon sun, but, I find myself holding my breath as I walk by.

I used to teach karate and as soon as it got warm we’d have our classes outside. We’d meditate with the sun on our faces, do cartwheels on the grass, climb old trees and do push-ups in the mud puddles. We got up close and personal with the ground that we walk on. By connecting with the earth, our white karate uniforms took on the colors of the earth, black, brown, red and green. Just by looking at us, you could see we’d been having fun. The colors of the earth must have rubbed off of my karate uniform and somehow penetrated my skin. They must have got right inside me because they’re part of me now and they call out to me. 

“You need some green. Green is calming, nurturing, restful, go find some green”.

“Hey, there’s some red over there, pay attention to red, feel the demanding, hot energy of red.” 

“You’re antsy, jumpy, all over the place; you need the organic structure and stability of the earth. Sink your hands into the brown richness of the earth and feel its warmth. “

And so responding to the language of color, I go. I grab my cameras and I take ‘the Parkway’, through the mountains, where the earth is up close and personal. I go for the solitude and the tranquility; I go, to connect with the ancient and of course, for the colors, natural colors.

At Mount Edith Cavell the earth is massive and imposing. Smooth white glaciers contrast the jagged orangey brown moraine and the rock and ice are reflected by the turquoise melt waters of Cavell Pond. Splash your face with water thousands of years in the making. 

Further down the Parkway at Jonas Creek, the rock is ancient, by geological accounts, 500 million years of ancient. The earth here is spectacular, pinks and orange and purple, the colors of the Gog Quartzite, rock that is hard as steel, and as beautiful as a rainbow. 

At nearby Horseshoe Lake, the earth is a study of motion, the rock angled, layered and striated, by the forces of nature. Despite the hard lines of the rock here, the colors speak of tranquility, peacefulness and calm. It is a haven, a retreat; one of those places where the connection is so strong you can both find yourself and lose yourself.  

Further south, the Weeping Wall is a vista of blue, grey and silver. Wispy waterfalls streak the rock face here with spectral mists. This is a place to practice the long slow look. I follow the parkway south and the mountains are a study of color, Tangle Ridge, Bow Lake and then, leaving the parkway, Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, jewels of mountain color. My journey takes me past Vermilion Lakes and Mount Rundle to Kananaskis Country where in places, the rocks burn red.  
In the twilight I linger at Wedge Pond. The mountains in shadow soar above me as the colors of the earth grow dark with the setting sun.

It’s a long four hour drive home but my spirit is filled with the colors of the earth. 

It’s late and dark by the time I get home, a long day. I put my cameras away and take the dog for a walk. Leaf buds are thick on the trees, silhouetted against the starry night sky. We won’t have leaves for six or maybe even seven weeks yet, but the buds hold the promise of spring. Walking the dog each evening, I’ll anticipate the grass turning green. It will be weeks yet, but the grass will turn green and I will revel in it. I’ll take off my shoes and practice Tai Chi barefoot in the dewy grass with the sun on my face.  

With the changing of the seasons and the changing colors of nature, we are offered the gifts of hope and promise- except for that one yard over there, where the grass is always green. I have to wonder, who would refuse such gifts?

Folders

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