It all began with a nature hike.
The first outing that I vividly recall was to gather inspiration to design autumn centerpieces for the tables at the church harvest banquet. Although creativity runs in our veins, decorating tables was something entirely new! I was in grade school, maybe seven or eight years old and anxious to see this newest project come together. We jumped in the car, my parents, my little sister, and I, and headed out of town on a mission to discover inspiration. After what seemed like a forever drive to me my mom gave my dad the sign to stop and we pulled into the parking lot of a small school nestled into the lap of a rocky outcropping. I climbed out of the car and stood with my mouth open and head tipped back so I could see to the top - until I heard my name and ran to catch up. Behind the building the trees became thick, clinging to the dark brown earth that held the rock in place like a giant tooth. My imagination was instantly captured and to be honest the only instructions I heard were to explore the spongy knoll and gather as many small interesting objects as I could find. I danced around the trees, claiming each one for my own, looking for the biggest and the smallest and the funniest things and filling mom's basket. What I didn't realize in those fleeting moments beneath the shimmering shade was that my mom, in her quiet and gentle way, was passing on to my sister and I the heart of an artist. She pointed out the beauty in the way the sunbeams made the shadows dance. Helped us cup our hands around the knobbly feel of the dusty pine cones. She guided our eye to help select the most artful leaves with all points intact. How the tiniest things have potential if dust and weeds can be looked past!
My mom continues to practice her art, painting pictures that spark the imagination and inspire the creative at heart. Once in awhile we go on a journey together to find something new, a new place to explore, or just pause for the view. The message here is easy. Go. Wander outside and gather some makings for a table decoration. Use leaves, rocks or twigs to make a colorful scribble impression. And, whatever you do and wherever you go, remember that the most amazing treasure is an eye for discovering beauty and creativity in the unexpected.