Never far from my thoughts

Heard Museum 2012
To know a place is a source of great peace and inspiration. To be able to walk a beloved place in your mind in the middle of a dark night, noting trail markers of memory is an insomniac's delight, but generally walking in nature itself prevents insomnia.

I could lead you to the place I first saw a hummingbird clearwing moth on the Rowlett Creek Trail at Oak Point, but the date is hazy. Probably spring 2012 or 2011. Was this creature a bird, a giant bee, a hornet out visiting wildflowers in the woods in the late afternoon? Maybe it wasn't safe to get too close, and certainly not close enough for a photograph. 

"To know a place" is an expression I first heard reading Wendell Berry at UNL's Centennial College. I could walk you to the first floor office in Heppner Hall, but I am vague on the nature of the project and the identities of the college fellows who shared that office. One was Bill Korbus, the art director at Nebraska ETV. The other was a German professor named Brown with whom I was studying philosophy of work or some such.

Mental maps and blueprints are both brain teasers and mind easers. My favorite theme in Hilary Mantel's novel, Wolf Hall was Cromwell's memory and his search for Giulio Camillo's Memory Machine. We can place people, ideas, and things in fully-furnished imaginary rooms, in the shops on a town's Main Street, or along the trails of a beautiful place like Oak Point. To recall something one must mentally mosey, opening cabinets, crawling into hollow trees, climbing rope ladders to shady treehouses. Visualizing in detail a place where you felt safe and serene is a simple mental health technique requiring no insurance copay or deductible.

  • One of the simplest relaxation techniques is the use of visualization. 
  • Visualizing yourself in a calm, quiet, beautiful place can be a powerful tool for reducing anxiety and turning off the body’s stress response. 
  • Visualization for relaxation is a way of placing yourself in a beautiful relaxed setting, whenever you need to go there, no airfare or mountain climbing required.

We may joke about going to our "special place" and curling up with our "soft blue blankie", but the ability to visualize a place based on familiarity is good voodoo. Oak Point has been my special place since I learned about it at Live Green in Plano 2010

Walks at Oak Point became my sanity lifeline while I was managing Dad's final year. Without the slow focus required to take insect photos, I couldn't find the calm I needed to deal with Dad's increasingly angry dementia and decreasing physical health, let alone the spoon feedings and financial issues. When Dad died, I found renewed energy and purpose walking at Oak Point. My renewed curiosity and sense of wonder guided my art teaching and my career changes. The great ending to a rough day became searching identities of  mystery discoveries with enlarged digital photos. Actual pixels, Om! And OMG.

And so, back to the clearwing hummingbird moth, that bee-mimicking diurnal pollination confuser, Hemaris thysbe. The Labor Day weekend did not keep this moth from its appointed rounds. The following photos 9/1/2014, Dallas Arboretum Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden:

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