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Thursday, December 17, 2020

The Great Outdoors

Hanging a bird feeder directly outside a window is almost like bringing nature indoors. The large feeder hanging from magnolia tree attracts a larger variety of birds. The magnolia has grown to such a size that every winter I prop the major limbs to prevent breakage from heavy snow storms.

A worthwhile effort for a spectacular Spring bloom.

As we spend time in and with nature, we're thinking less about our to-do list and more about being in the moment. such ideas are now gaining credence in the scientific world. 
 Chief among these ideas is Attention Restoration Theory, developed by the psychologists Stephen and Rachel Kaplan, who argue that nature’s health benefits are due to its ability to relieve stress and fatigue and restore focused and productive attention. Being in nature is a pacifying experience to cherish. Evolutionary psychology stories are grand, but even if true, they do not explain how nature envelops our emotions. To understand why nature energizes us, the focus must pivot to the core of the matter: the brain. Our brains are not evolved to deal with the number of different channels competing for our attention in the modern environment, with computers, phones, streets, cars. A natural environment is more suitable to the way our attentional systems operate.
In the 1990s, Russian-American artists Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid conducted a survey to determine the elements of a painting that Americans preferred and then painted a work that blended the elements. It featured a lot of blue—the sky, mountains, a lake—gentle brown woods, hikers, deer, and George Washington.

 They called the painting America’s Most Wanted. It had a satiric bite to it but the late art critic and philosopher Denis Dutton, in his book, The Art Instinct, wrote the painting shouldn’t be written off as worthless, “for it did reveal one stunning fact: People in very different cultures around the world gravitate toward the same general type of pictorial representation: a landscape with trees and open area, water, human figures, and animals.” And yes, George Washington.
Happy Holidays