Until the Baroque Age, nature wasn’t the beautiful setting you went to to relax. At that time, nature was survival, it was a feared power that drowned people in floods, made ships go down in a storm, killed by heat and by cold or depopulated whole areas of the land by destroying harvests. And then there were the plagues, often killing millions before fading out.
This started to change when the natural sciences became strong at the age of the Baroque. Technology developed, and more people could live in safety, relieved from the day to day combat with the forces of nature.
This opened up to see nature not as an opposing force, but as something beautiful. It laid the foundations of the Romanticism of the nineteenth century. Nature was interpreted as a garden of Eden. At the same time, the baroque garden showed the victory of man over nature. All trees and bushes and lawns were forced into a geometric pattern, nothing was allowed to grow as it wanted.
But the dearest fantasies were those of the shepherd and the shepherdess, living in an ideal landscape that knew no sorrow or pain, the garden Eden. The aristocracy would dress in their most fancy clothing, the sheep were washed and perfumed, and servants would remove anything disturbing the idyll like sheep droppings.
I didn’t exactly have a flock of perfumed sheep at my disposition, but the sun, as it shone low over the hills of California, painted the landscape golden and into a garden Eden just as the one the baroque noblemen and women recreated in their shepherd’s fantasies.