Monday, December 28, 2015

Creative Expression on The AT

Colleen Gentry
Prices Fork Elementary
Blacksburg, VA
TTEC 2015

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.” 
John Muir

Walking.... putting one foot in front of the other seems such a simple thing. When you are hiking on the Appalachian Trail there are many of these footfalls. Each one carries meaning in a unique way, and each traveler has their own individual expression that carries on.

My husband, Matt, and I have been so fortunate to both enjoy this extraordinary footpath and to bring our own craft to express this love. 

Matt is an amazing visual artist. He must have his time in the woods. He brings a simple sketch book with his huge heart and vision and records amazing snapshots of nature. Pencil drawings, defined with pen and ink, mark his artistic talents.

His approach to this style of journaling gave me a vision for my project in designing my lesson plan devoted to nature journaling with elementary school children. These are the key elements I have seen as important: taking time to sit still, observe, use a blank piece of paper, a pencil, and a curious nature–take a risk and reflect on the process.

What am I doing while Matt is sketching?

Knitting! Yes, it is hip to KNIT. The meditative feeling of needles gliding back and forth, back and forth, is truly a craft that lends itself to being in nature and in the woods. Knitting is calming. It brings me to the center of where I can think about things. The beautiful yarns reflect the gorgeous colors of sky, water, earth.

On one hiking trip, I knitted a wool hat that I finished before the fire and was able to wear to bed to keep me warm.   My biggest project was a knitted blanket that was made of 85 individual squares. These squares were carried in my backpack and done over campfires, in the tent during thunderstorms, on breaks sitting on sunny rocks, during car rides which took us and back and forth to our trailhead destinations.

The blanket is something that reminds me of the many people we have met and the time we have shared together. Our sweet cat loves to cozy up.

My hope is for everyone to explore their own creative expression!

Go out and enjoy NATURE.

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North Carolina NCCAT participants

North Carolina NCCAT participants
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Mary Jane
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