Les Cope: Absorbed by nature's beauty
Les Cope remembers looking up from under the water of the Ovens River and thinking how beautiful the light appeared as it filtered through the overhanging weeping willows.
Pulled unconscious from the water at age five, the graphic designer could never have imagined how big a role the natural environment would play in his life.
A Scout at age 14, Les took a major overnight hike from Upper Gully, past Kalista, to Emerald and along Cardinia Creek.
“That hike really impacted on me as an individual because I was on my own and totally immersed in the surroundings. The biggest thing I remember is that you could actually drink the water from the creeks in the area – beautiful crystal clear drinking water. But that was 1963 - you’d be taking your life into your own hands if you tried drinking it these days,’’ he laughs. “You wouldn’t even consider it.’’
With the birth of their first child Adam 34 years ago, Les and wife Peta moved to Menzies Creek to “get back to our roots’’. After soon becoming aware that Adam had a disability they used their leafy setting to advance his physical and mental capabilities.
“We literally had to teach him to walk when he was two years old because his brain wasn’t allowing those motor skills to be processed. If we lived in the suburbs he probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity of going into the bush, which has greatly assisted him to develop and grow. He wouldn’t be as mobile as he is now without the encouragement of getting out and walking.’’
Les says Adam loves nature because “it’s one of the few things that he can enjoy’’.
“If he wants a bit of time out he’ll often go wander around the garden and enjoy the surroundings. He can’t get into too much trouble out there. He might fall over and graze his knee but that’s all part of him being there – he’s learned to cope with that.’’
It was the discovery of Adam’s skill for writing poetry as a teenager that surprised his family the most. Les often takes Adam to nearby Menzies Creek, a tributary of Woori Yallock Creek, to gather inspiration.
“He’s non-verbal in the sense that he can’t talk but he’s got a way with words. His language development is different to ours because everything is internalised but you get these very inspiring poems about nature and the creek.
“It is much harder to gain access to Menzies Creek these days with the influx of people into the area and new properties. But we’re lucky to have a friend with a property in a swampy area of the creek where we spend time. It’s a lovely spot.’’
Les, a former teacher, runs his graphic design service out of a studio in Menzies Creek and expresses his love of nature through his own paintings.
“You can’t help but be absorbed in this area and its beauty and I try to express that through my art. I’ve done a lot of art on disability but I try and get away from that when I can because it’s already a 24 hour thing for me.’’
Written by Daniel Clarke, Environment Victoria, May 2008
The tide ebs and flows and lets itself go
Enchanted and pursuing ripples of time
Transforming the ground with nurture and life
And turning the world on its head it departs to return as rain and flows again
Rest is not part of the cycle of life when nature has its way
Watered and sheltered from drought
The earth returns to life and wringing with time warms the air with growth and love
Establishing itself once more
Adam March 2008
So lots of leaves are killed in autumn
placed like lost opportunities lifeless
not by man
placed mixed up on the ground
but living in loaded colour
filled life more lots in death
saw mauve like life had colour
and loved life in the soft colour
followed nicely by lots of smell
of wetness every day
from winter rain.
Four wheel drive swiftly down
to the valley below.
Defined as an island
deserted by sea
and left to drown
in a forest of trees.
Dangerous heights listing starboard and leeward
Sanded back with winds and time.
Forests stretching across its face,
Worlds born and dying to start again.
Seas of clouds and billowing sails
Sweep through this merchant like view
And wonder who controls this ship
Of mountains valleys and trees.
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