Radnor Lake inspires. It just does. Anyone who spends time wandering the handful of trails on this sacred 1400-acre wood knows what I mean. When the day is beautiful, many come to take it in, the water, woods and wildlife. An intimate place to celebrate seasons and Life.
In spring it’s wildflowers showing out from harbingers, spring beauties, dutchman’s britches to redbuds then dogwoods and larkspur to locust trees rolling over one and other. Summer sees fawns dropping, great blue heron filling the sycamore rookery with chick stuffed nests. Poults tracking their wild turkey mommas. Owlets testing their feathered noggins’ range of motion while otters chase pups. Fall colors paint the lake golden, orange and rust as the nights finally cool. In November rut begins with tangled antlers clashing. A peace blows through in winter as visitors slow, and temperatures drop. Tress put on vivid mossy socks while baby beach trees glow gripping onto shimmering apricot leaves. Sometimes it even snows.
This place is a cathedral of restoration for heart, body and soul. Bring your troubles, the trees will listen, breezes carrying them away. Be still and know you are never alone.
Years of hiking these hills, has held my grief, filled my depleted reserves, healed my heart and celebrated my recovery. I have cried in this forest, painted on the shores, witnessed rebirth in sunrises and all wild things from fungi to turtles and hawks.
Just months ago in spring, filled with gifts from years of hikes, I could finally give back to a place so deeply ingrained in my soul.
“Twins” was inspired by the new pair of American bald eagles who in 2023 produced their 2nd successful fledge of offspring. A year earlier during the devastating inline winds of 2022 one of two eaglets born at RLSN was lost, however heroic efforts by Steve Ward and his staff saved the remaining chick vital to keeping the young pair nesting at Radnor Lake. Watch the special report on this incredible rescue mission.
In 2023, thankfully the eagles rebuilt their nest the 400th registered bald eagle nest in Tennessee.
Taking on the challenge to gather reference material by photographing the 2nd year eaglets was a daunting task. It took a new camera, numerous conversations with staff regarding adult eagle breeding behavior, timing of the hatch, then watching the capricious spring weather for the right light needed to create the artwork. It literally took months of preparation. Mother Nature, that uncontrollable element unavoidable in outdoor painting is always a wild card. Working outside in my world is essential to each painting. Capturing a specific moment never to be repeated getting that certain slant of light just right.
Last spring the weather Gods were generous on the chilly early mornings when heading out along side the professional and gifted amateur photographers. So much respect for the camera toting folks. It is a quest for them to get that perfect photo, in this case an eagle family photo. My shot of the female on nest with her partner flying in was no less than a miracle. Mother Nature was gracious that day. Steve also generously shared close-ups of the chicks beyond my camera’s range to bring the “twice is nice” theme together.
Having raised my own exceptional twin boys, both graduates of the Radnor Junior Ranger program, and scouts who improved Radnor trails with Eagle Scout projects, I honor them as well. Ryan’s trail work improved the access trail from the east parking lot, thank you very much. While Luke’s staircase is the lovely curved one where the road to the Barbara J. Mapp Aviary splits from Otter Creek. His design and installation (with the exception of the rail) climbs up to the South Lake trail, executing the elusive combination of both beautiful form and practical function. Both improvements are holding up well more than a decade later.
If you get a minute, please stop by the visitor center to see the finished painting when you are in the park. I am certain the eagles will be proud to know you did and my twin sons might be smiling too.
For more information regarding the presentation of “Twins” check the video on my YouTube channel Kim Barrick Studio-Alive with Light. There are a few other clips as well.