There is much to be gained from an appreciation of the natural world and there may be no greater exponent of this notion than artist Michelle Duffy from Garrison.

Nowhere is she happier than at the Rusheen on the shores of Lough Melvin, transfixed by nature in action regardless of its mood.

Being here brings her deep contentment, and on our first meeting at her favourite place in the county, she begins to explain her fascination with a single word. Tranquillity.

This is a sentiment that I can relate to. Decades ago, this was a place that took my breath away on a journey from Belleek to Blacklion.

So much so that I parked up to eat a sandwich, drank tea from the flask that is my faithful companion on days out in Fermanagh, and luxuriated in the sheer beauty of this picture-postcard scene.

On that particular afternoon, the weather was in a fit of pique and the exasperated water was sweeping in well above the banks.

It was like looking at the Atlantic, and the unadulterated magnificence of that tableau has lingered long in my mind.

It’s no surprise that this gifted artist believes that she is not alone in her regard for this special place, and that this is where many people come to relax and forget about their worries.

Rarely does a day go by when Michelle doesn’t spend time here. Camera in hand, snapping away, her stunning photographs have gained her a sizeable social media following.

She explains that from the Rusheen on the outskirts of Garrison, on a good day you can see Slieve League in Donegal.

Close by is Rossinver and the Leitrim border. The boathouse and car park are less than a mile from where she lives, and the family dog is an enthusiastic companion on summer evening walks as her three sons play football in the park.

On the day we meet, it's cold and wet, the sky is grey, and rain clouds gather ominously.

But in spring or summer when the sun sets just behind the mountain, the colours can be as expansive as those in her cherished artist’s palette back at the house.

She never tires of trying to recapture the ever-changing vista on canvas in the comfort of her studio, and she truly considers her homeplace to be a little piece of heaven on earth.

We can feel the wind whipping up, but for the moment resist the urge to move to the shelter of the boathouse, for two reasons.

Firstly, the formerly iconic ash tree, and secondly, the bench which dominate the foreground of this powerful scene.

This captivating composition has become one of Michelle’s best-selling paintings. She’s lost count of the number of times she has photographed this bewitching view.

People say to her regularly that they were in the Rusheen “sitting on her bench, beside her tree”.

While it may not officially be either, the sentiment is a great tribute to the deep affection that shines through each representation that she creates.

Her theory is that the compositions resonate particularly with people from Garrison who have moved away to different parts of Ireland and across the world.

She has sent her paintings to emigrants in Australia, America and throughout Europe who quite simply miss this exemplary part of their homeplace.

Michelle concedes that she is sometimes at a loss to explain the hold that this panorama exerts over her.

“My children ask me regularly why I’m painting the tree again. It’s just a magical view that has become a major part of my heart and soul.”

As the temperature drops and the gusting wind whips up, we head for cover under the roof of the boathouse where the perspective of the lough and the big sky changes once again.

As a painter, gazing to the heavens in this place is a constant source of inspiration to Michelle.

Her affection for it is infectious. She has been credited with putting Garrison on the map and is quietly pleased that her fixation has resulted in a greater appreciation of the Rusheen, the tree and Lough Melvin.

It has been her thing, her place, her scene for as long as she can remember. She considers art as therapy and says it’s what she does to keep calm.

With three teenage boys, her life is busy. This is where she comes and what she paints to relax.

The light here is never the same from one hour to the next. “I would honestly say that every photograph I take is different. The sky is fluid, in flux. The cloud formations are always different, constantly changing.”

The sun sets at different points in the horizon depending on the season, which manipulates the image and how the light comes through the tree.

Her creative eye picks out many more hues than my untrained one. The clouds glide by as if by magic. She points to shades of blue, white, grey and yellow.

There are hundreds of pictures on her phone and she vows that, some day, every single one will be painted. Some are moody and menacing, some are bright and playful.

Michelle has been drawing since she was knee-high to an easel. When her father was ill a number of years ago, for the first time in her life painting took a back seat, and when he passed away it was art that helped her cope with the loss.

He was very supportive of her work, immensely proud of the Camlake Canvas business that she has developed, and she is in no doubt that his spirit continues to guide her.

With each brushstroke on innumerable canvases, Michelle’s connection to this place deepens.

She concedes that she would like to paint other landscapes but despite her best efforts, she returns again and again to this spot, which she admits has become the heartbeat of her life.

In spring and summer evenings with a quietly spectacular sunset to contemplate, there is nowhere that she would rather be. On this bench, she can drift off to a different world.

The sadness she felt when storm Debi got the better of the tree last year was initially hard to bear.

There were signs that the legendary Rusheen Park tree might be in trouble, and when it succumbed to the 70-mph gusts, Michelle was bereft.

“It had been deteriorating. I’d noticed some tell-tale signs on the stump and on the branches. When I first saw it uprooted and laid low, it was heart-breaking. But still beautiful in all its pain.”

For as long as Michelle has been alive, the Rusheen tree has been standing tall and proud. She remembers seeing pictures of it from the 1970s, though is unsure exactly how old it was.

There are plans to plant another tree in its place, although it will be many years before the young sapling pretender can lay claim to the mighty ash throne.

She hopes that there might also be some sort of carving erected as a tribute to her longstanding muse.

While the view of Lough Melvin may never be the same again, Michelle is pragmatic and grateful for the vast catalogue of paintings and photographs in her possession, and believes that the calamitous event makes them even more special.

It is a considerable loss for the park, for Garrison, for Fermanagh, and for the gifted woman who instinctively knew the value of this natural wonder since the moment she laid eyes on it more than four decades ago.

Anne Marie McAleese is a broadcaster, writer and author who considers Fermanagh as one of her favourite places. You can listen to her every Saturday morning on BBC Radio Ulster’s, ‘Your Place and Mine’, 8am-9am.