A year ago, I took this picture while I was out walking through our local field naturalists’ grounds, the Fletcher Wildlife Garden. The gnarled tree stood in a clearing among brittle, dried grasses but seemed burnished, almost glowing in the sun, like a piece of polished driftwood, or a sculpture.
Almost a year later, I was again walking through the Fletcher Gardens and again came upon the tree. But this time, I found it had been transformed into an actual sculpture, a permanent work of art celebrating the natural beauty of its form.
A little further on, I found this tucked in between the trees as well.
It is something of a surprise to stumble across unexpected sculptures in the woods. These gentle, natural pieces of art complement their surroundings and encourage passersby to think about our relationship to nature, to the gardens, and to art.
They reminded me of the driftwood art I’ve photographed while in Maine over the past few summers; each year, the residents and holiday-makers gather washed up pieces driftwood and other found items and use them to build structures and sculptures up and down the beach. Unlike the sculptures in the Fletcher Gardens, they won’t last to the next season — the winter tides will wash them away. But in the moment, they are an equally pleasing, equally thought-provoking combination of nature, art and imagination.