Look around you at the lovely northern woods. It is the peak of summer. The
sunshine filters down through a full canopy of leaves. Some late wildflowers
may still be blooming on the forest floor. It is a calm and peaceful scene.
Now look down. What is supporting the visible forest, and in a figurative and
literal way, supporting us all? The soil, the “root domain”, is the basis for
land life on our planet. Most of us don’t give it a thought, as it is dark
and inaccessible to us. What is going on under the surface? I envisioned a
place of unexpected color and pattern, filled with life and activity, where
things are not always what they seem on the surface. Going deeper, one may
contemplate the connectivity of the universe.
Reading the essay by soil scientist and geographer Francis D. Hole, “Some
Patterns in the Earth Beneath Our Feet”1, I was taken by his description of
the beauty to be found in the living soil. He recommends starting “outdoor
soil clubs” similar to bird watching societies. Hole suggests becoming
amateur soil walkers, exhuming soil profiles for temporary admiration—
contemplating with affection ‘the root domain of lively darkness and
This is perhaps the best known of all my landscape art quilts. It has been in numerous
exhibitions, a book on art quilts, and on the set of the motion picture “Wanderlust.”
37" W x 67" H
Machine pieced and appliquéd, machine quilted (over 300 yards of thread sewn)
Hung on a straight branch.
Wisconsin Land and Life, Edited by Robert C. Ostergren and Thomas
R. Vale. The University of Wisconsin Press, 1997. ↩︎