Hidden Risks

Watch me paint “Savannah Tree” in 1 minute (time lapse)

“One of the most identifiable features of Savannah is its trees, many of which are covered with Spanish moss. The moss truly changes the shape of trees, and if simplified- like in this painting- the effect is almost umbrella like. When many trees align the city streets, the effect is dramatic and romantic.

These trees appear in the landscaping of many parking lots, making even a simple trip to the grocery store a beautiful experience. This is more true of the island shopping areas, but overall there are more trees in commercial zones in the Savannah area than I’ve seen in other parts of the country, and when so many are flowy and lightly billowy in a breeze, there’s a calming effect to what could be stressful errands. It is the trees that slow the pace down, a Southern sedative.”

“Spanish moss drapes from many tree branches. Don’t touch the moss. It looks soft and inviting, but apparently there are bugs that live in it. Enjoy with your eyes!”

-from book “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Savannah, Georgia” by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

The bugs inside the pretty Spanish moss are tiny red chiggers whose bites can cause itchy red welts, rashes, and may even cause severe allergic reactions such as nausea, vomiting, tightness in chest or throat, faintness, dizziness, hives, and difficulty breathing. Because the bugs are tiny and completely obscured by the ornamental Spanish moss (which isn’t really a moss at all, but a different type of plant that lives on trees), this is a hidden risk. 

In nature, as in life, we consciously and subconsciously survey our surroundings for threats. We assess risks and dangers based on what we sense, see, and hear. But some risks are hidden, like tiny red bugs. Programs, movements, policies, people, trends, or ideas may be like Spanish moss. A collective mindset might seem attractive, harmless, or even beneficial, but may secretly harbor a dangerous hazard to our lives, health, freedom, or spiritual happiness.

Sometimes Spanish moss drapes a tree so completely that we no longer see the mighty oak underneath, yet it’s still there. No amount of chigger-infested moss can change what’s underneath. No matter how engulfed we may feel, may we be as trees that stand firmly rooted. 

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