The Artist Within

Nick Owens, Guest Columnist

As I approach the wooded trail, I admire the rock formation protruding from wooded ground, crumbling from the passing of time.

Seneca Park’s Big Rock looms in the path before me. My eyes drift over the dull ground as I take careful steps over the rooted path. Leaves drained of their color from autumn’s harshness cover the colorless ground; some stay loosely attached to their trees.

Along the trail sits an empty playground, awaiting a beautiful spring revival that brings young children to the park. Park benches wait for tired runners and bikers who will also come.

Parallel to the direction of the path before me stands an old rest area. Graffiti covers the walls of the barren rest area that once served its purpose. The architecture resembles a temple, but the building only worshipped the inevitability of nature taking it over.

The start of the path meets a decorated bench, inviting the deceased it honors to a comfortable place to sit. It reads, “A friend to all, a stranger to none; all our love to our sweet smiling angel.”

Trinity senior Nick Owens photo by Line Drive Photography

I continue along the path, and the sound of water flowing over rocks in the creek echoes throughout the woods. A trickle of clear water seeps through the chasm I pass, flowing into a stream that descends into the river. The path, carved by roots that outline pockets of dirt, creates an incline.

To the side of the path, icicles hang from the ragged edges of rocks. Before I make the ascent, the sound of laughter and chatter reach my ears from across the creek. At the base of the rock formation, a couple plays with their dog.

The dog, warmed by a scarlet plaid sweater, enjoys running. We exchange glances from afar, sharing a moment of curiosity.

I observe the world as a work of art, even amid an unforgiving cold.

As I approach the summit of the path along Big Rock, I notice rocks that come from a place deep within the earth. Rolled into the creek, they rest as time passes. Water holds a frozen position on the rocks.  The trees degrade me as their branches tower above. A feeling of isolation overtakes me as I reminisce about the times spent with friends on the trail.

Suddenly, a biker in a neon fleece hastens on his pedals, passing me on the road above the rocks. I meet a frail evergreen tree whose branches bear few pines. Perplexed, I wondered how a tree built to withstand the cold could surrender.

I then venture beneath a hollow trunk encased in fungi, not far from the small evergreen. It directs its jagged trunk towards a sky that responds to its gesture, mocking its hollow state. The trunk became a suitable home for wildlife.

Trees adjacent to the path before me await the same fate. Thin trees line both sides on the path, once bearing bright leaves of green that shone in the sun in spring. The creek below shines in the sapphire blue of the clouded sky. A bench engraved with a eulogy marks the end of the trail.

Too often do I distract myself with artificial pleasures in a natural world, with vastness that reminds me of my inferiority. Nature takes a hiatus from lush greenery for a period of bitter cold, a period with its own distinctions of beauty.

Nature is a composition of artwork, from miniscule strands of grass to prodigious rocks. The artist within me has influence over my observations; I observe the world as a work of art, even amid an unforgiving cold.