Piece of Turf, Albrecht Durer 1604

Piece of Turf, Albrecht Durer 1604

Durer challenged conventional ideas about the proper subject of painting with this skillfully executed watercolor of a common piece of turf. Great art does that, pushing us to think outside our comfort zone.

"Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed.  Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders."  Henry D. Thoreau

In 1850, Henry David Thoreau was admitted to Boston's prestigious  Society of Natural History, at that time dominated by the most powerful scientist of the day Louis Agassiz.  The "faith in a seed" quote comes from an unpublished manuscript The Dispersion of Seeds, in which Thoreau takes a cue from Darwin, contrary to Agassiz's theological insistence on special creation and spontaneous generation. 

Thoreau died May 6, 1862, his life's work largely unfinished.  Like Thoreau, I have drunk deeply of the waters of Walden Pond, and find myself inspired by this remarkable man and his close observations of the natural world.