A More Permanent Gift of Beauty

Usually, the kind of beauty or art that we make in Radical Joy for Hard Times practices is ephemeral, spontaneous, and not meant to last. We create it out of materials we find at a place that’s out of balance, knowing that we are only the first artists and that animals, wind, rain, and traffic will erase or enhance our early “drafts”.
Sometimes, however, we are moved by sorrow over the destruction of a loved place or species to make a more permanent form of beauty. This poem and the photo above are by Nan Collie of Portland, Oregon. She took the photo of a favorite alder tree before it was cut down and wrote the poem afterward. 
I have a picture
of my favorite alder, the one
that sang all summer long
down by the gazebo
deep in the woods
of home
One day I swirled my point and shoot
catching a shot of Ferris wheel shimmer
long brown branches buried
like directors’ batons
in the last dance of green
to gold August
The photo hangs on my wall, still
singing, long after the forest
was taken
She sings in a heart
that kissed every leaf
as it fell

Trebbe Johnson
Trebbe JohnsonFounder
Trebbe is the author of The World Is a Waiting Lover and 101 Ways to Make Guerrilla Beauty. Her new book, Radical Joy for Hard Times: Finding Meaning and Making Beauty, will be published in Fall 2018 by North Atlantic Books. Her articles about people’s emotional and spiritual relationship with nature have appeared in Orion, Sierra, Ecopsychology, The Ecologist, The Nation, Harper’s and other magazines. She lives with her husband, Andrew Gardner, in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, a region currently under exploitation by natural gas companies.

Image Credit:

  • IMG 2282: Nan Collie


  • Friedmann Children 2 Copy

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Radical Joy Revealed is a weekly message of inspiration about finding and making beauty in wounded places.

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