Here were valleys filled with tiny trees and minuscule, tangled vines…

I am a collector.  I love the details of seemingly mundane little objects.  I collect discarded plants and nurse them back to life. I collect bits and pieces underneath the heron nests.

I collect chestnuts.  They remind me of my mom, who would often tell me she collected chestnuts in shoeboxes as a child.

I collect buttons.  They remind me of my great aunt, Helga.  I loved going through her button jar when I was a child.

And the collecting habit continues with my niece and nephew as we drag home treasures from the park and the beach.

And what do I do with all these treasures besides put them on shelves and look at them regularly?  I use them as illustration references.

I was at the craft store today to purchase foam board for a portrait order and came across a bag of dry moss.  Oh wow!

I have been planning to get some reference photos of the forest floor for a project.  I had an idea.  I purchased my supplies and the bag of moss and ran home.  I would try create my own little slice of the forest using our found treasures and the moss.

The moss felt warm and spongy, several degrees warmer than the air around it, and far more damp than she had expected. It appeared to have its own weather. Alma put the magnifying lens to her eye and looked again. Now the miniature forest below her gaze sprang into majestic detail. She felt her breath catch. This was a stupefying kingdom. This was the Amazon jungle as seen from the back of a harpy eagle. She rode her eye above the surprising landscape, following its paths in every direction. Here were rich, abundant valleys filled with tiny trees of braided mermaid hair and minuscule, tangled vines. Here were barely visible tributaries running through that jungle, and here was a miniature ocean in a depression in the center of the boulder, where all the water pooled. – Elizabeth Gilbert

Adding some water awoke the plants and the smell of a mossy forest floor (one of my all time favorite smells) infused the room.

Then I added treasures such as pine cones, shells, heron egg shells, pebbles, beach glass, driftwood, sparrow’s feet.

I am all about the nooks and crannies.  Therein lie the secrets.  The truth.

But I’ll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.
― Alan Watts


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