A few days ago, I went looking for the Palomita Nature Reserve. It is a marsh that begins at the mouth of Little Pigeon Creek on Lake Michigan, covering 40 acres in Ottawa County. This ecosystem houses more than 70 species of birds, plants and fish. It has been preserved with the help of the Land Conservancy of West Michigan. I made my way along Lake Shore Drive, saw the adjacent boardwalk and pulled my little red car to the side of the road. I fished my soft pastel supplies out of the back seat and headed to the overlook. This was a place I wanted to paint.
A jogger from two miles down the way stopped to gaze across the expanse. She said that, when in town, she runs to this platform every day in order to absorb the calm and beauty. She spoke passionately about the birds that she observes. We discussed the life experience of trees.
Later, a young mom arrived with two little boys, one on a two-wheeler, the other on the classic "Big Wheel". This family came here often, as it was an easy ride from home. The older boy told an animated story about stopping to look at a toad and getting stuck in the mud.
I settled back into painting. The day was hot and humid but a soft breeze kept my neck cool. As I worked, I thought about the importance of this open space. Not only does it provide protected habitat for a myriad of species, it is a place of learning, watching and experiencing. It is a living space where one can go to contemplate, to listen. In this era of technology, the value of such easy access to nature is immeasurable! I was thrilled to be painting there, and am happier still to communicate it's beauty through my art.