I call my studio “Distant Thunder.” Sometimes I have a real studio. Other times “Distant Thunder Studio” is within me. Distant thunder conjures up memories of warm summer days in a field of alfalfa, like Andrew Wyeth’s painting. It also rings in my ears as a re-awakening — an expectation. We wait for the deluge of what we share with the world of Nature to engulf us.
Every step is a part of your life, like your heartbeat.
Step with the Earth, knowing you are One with it.
You, making yourself move. Earth, there for you to bless
with each footstep.
Starting in 2009, I hiked the west flank of Mount Mansfield in Vermont. Most of those hikes took me into the heart of what is called “Thunder Basin.” There, by clear waterfalls, I relived the feelings of a boy who grew up in the woods in northern Pennsylvania.
I kept notes and did sketches. In time, I wanted to develop a story in graphic novel format about what that boy could share with the world today. In my graphic novel, in process, the character transitioned into an 11-year old girl (the boy may appear in a parallel work). We can call the girl “S.” She lives in a city. Like many kids nowadays, she spends a lot of time on her smartphone. Her father will be renting a cabin in Vermont, on the west flank of Mount Mansfield. S is not happy to hear this, but, learning there is phone reception there, she goes along with the plan.
The story of S is about how a child whose identity is virtually controlled by the little screen on her phone will not be “the last child in the woods.”
What is the catalyst? A Native friend helped me envision the role of a “trickster.” Imagine a child sitting alone. Up comes a coyote and sits beside her. Says the coyote: “This is your world. Let me show you another.”
Crow flies overhead, her cawing echoing through the trees. Again the forest is silent.
“How can birds be so high up in the treetops. What would it be like to fly. If I could, then I could find out,” she thought.
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