Texture in Nature: by Kathleen Scavone

Take a step outside your front door and your busy schedule to steep yourself in a moment, an hour, or a day of delight through texture. As you pause in the stillness that washes over you, your senses begin working overtime, painting your everyday surrounding in a fresh light. The sand bar along the creek’s edge is a perfect study in an everyday surface that encircles many of us. The Global Research Journal of Science and Nature points out that a soil’s texture affects both the chemical and physical properties of a given soil. Soil can be defined as a material built with five main ingredients –  living organisms, water, minerals, soil organic matter and gas. It’s the amount of particles within the material that make up a soil’s texture, with the mineralogy in any given soil as diverse as plants in a forest. Getting back to the sandy creek bank, that light and lovely, beachy-looking sand is a type of soil, being comprised as it is of mini-rocks which have been beaten, scoured and broken to bits; diminution by nature’s forces including wind, water, heat and cold. The cascading creek paints yet another texture-picture with its ever-changing currents. Sometimes it’s surface is a dreamy, soft-focus waterway that allows you to lay a hand on top of it as it ripples and meanders away, while other times its urgent creek-speak is laden with burbling, crashing choppiness rearranged by the rains. Along the creek, the trail tells a story of its own with soil’s organic material comprised of decayed plant, animal and mineral material that has formed over the millennia. The topography and texture of the trail differs at each bend.

Now, the layers of texture in newly-fallen leaves near the gnarly bark of an oak tree provide a texture treat for all of our senses. Pungent leaf-litter decay-  nature’s perfume in fall, along with the kaleidoscopic color of said leaf-litter when the green-machine of chlorophyll stops or slows down allowing other pigments in leaves to become show-offs all vie for our attention. As you slide your hand over the rough surface of tree bark feel the total contrast of the moss cloak it is wearing. The perky green plant feels feathery, creating a wild and natural juxtaposition, the abrasive quality contrasting with wispy and soft moss. Glide your eyes farther up the tree to the beard lichen that is sometimes called Spanish moss. It hangs in web-like and is a faded-green hue, a unique texture in itself.

At times we are drawn to a plant’s delicate tresses, while at other times it’s the coarse leaves of a neighboring shrub that seems to elevate our awareness of what we are viewing on a texture walk. Contrast in all of its nuances, i.e. smooth, downy, abrasive or scratchy all combine to create seemingly infinite degrees of texture. Along with the sight of, or the feel of a given texture, the plant’s scent creates ever more textural makeup. For example, the fine fragrance of pine has a way of drawing you in, while on closer observation you note the subtle changes which have occurred as the plant pushed out its supple, new needles.  An up-close-and personal look at its bark reveals myriad hues in which it combines itself into the tree trunk’s unique and grainy covering.

Texture, in all of its diversity, much like forest-bathing or soundscape-seeking holds the power to mend what ails us with an additional form of nature’s beauty that just might stop us in our tracks.

Kathleen Scavone

Kathleen Scavone, MA., is a retired educator who has resided in beautiful Lake County for over 45 years. She freelances fiction, poetry, nature writing, curriculum ideas, and local history. She writes for The Press Democrat, Napa Valley Register, News From Native California, Green Prints, etc. She has published three books, a play and a poetry chapbook. The second edition of her locally set historical novella, People of the Water- a novella of the events leading to the Bloody Island Massacre of 1850 is available in local museums and stores, as well as on Amazon.com and IngramSpark in both paperback and e-book formats. She has written Anderson Marsh State Historic Park- A Walking History, Prehistory, Flora and Fauna tour of a California State Park, and Native Americans of Lake County. Kathleen is a photographer and potter. Her other interests include hiking, assisting on archaeology digs, travel, gardening and reading.

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