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What are the three most important things?

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“To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time come to let it go,
to let it go.”
— Mary Oliver

“If I were to name the three most precious resources of life, I should say books, friends, and nature; and the greatest of these, at least the most constant and always at hand, is nature.”
— John Burroughs

A rule for happiness:
something to do,
someone to love,
something to hope for.”
— Kant

“Friends, books, a cheerful heart and a conscience clear [oops, that’s four] are the most choice companions we have here.”
— William Mather

“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three;
but the greatest of these is charity.”
— 1 Corinthians 13:13

“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly care may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful implanted in the human soul.”
— Johann Wolfgang Goethe

“Three things in human
life are important:
the first is to be kind;
the second is to be kind;
and the third is to be kind.”
— Henry James

My favorite of the above is the last one, I think.

“Be kind whenever possible.
It is always possible.”
— Dalai Lama

Have you heard of others?  If you had to create a “three things” saying, what would it be?

 

 

Tree Walk at Seward Park

September 8, 2014

Seward Park, Seattle

Seward Park, Seattle

“Today I have grown taller from walking with the trees.”
— Karle Wilson Baker, from 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts by R. J. Palacio

Earlier this summer when I walked the perimeter of Seattle, I passed by Seward Park without taking the time to explore it.  So I returned on Friday to see what this popular city park was all about and to walk the 2+ mile road edging the “peninsula” that juts into Lake Washington.  The city of Seattle has published a “Tree Walk at Seward Park,” and with this printout I set out to identify some of the magnificent trees in the park.  Let me take you along on my jaunt through Seward Park.

View of Mount Rainier across lake Washington from Seward Park

View of Mount Rainier across lake Washington from Seward Park

Row of Bolleana Poplars along the parking lot

Row of Bolleana Poplars along the parking lot

Leaves of the Bolleana Poplar

Leaves of the Bolleana Poplar

Garry Oak

Garry Oak

Leaves of Garry Oak

Leaves of Garry Oak

Spider web

Spider web

Madrona bark.  According to the city brochure, "Seward Park is home to Seattle's largest collection of Madrona trees.

Madrona bark. According to the city brochure, “Seward Park is home to Seattle’s largest collection of Madrona trees.

Another Madrona with peeling bark.  Madronas are native to the Pacific Northwest.

Another Madrona with peeling bark. Madronas are native to the Pacific Northwest.

Most of the trees in Seward Park are native Douglas Fir trees.

Most of the trees in Seward Park are native Douglas Fir trees.

The cones of the Douglas Fir have dragon-tongue-like protrusions jutting out from the cone bracts.

The cones of the Douglas Fir have dragon-tongue-like protrusions jutting out from the cone bracts.

Sketch of Douglas Fir cone

Sketch of Douglas Fir cone

Leaves and acrons from Northern Red Oak

Leaves and acorns from Northern Red Oak

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Threadleaf Falsecypress

Threadleaf Falsecypress

Traffic circle at Seward Park

Traffic circle at Seward Park

Blue Atlas Cedar

Blue Atlas Cedar

The clusters of the Blue Atlas Cedar look like spiky beads on a bracelet

The clusters of the Blue Atlas Cedar look like spiky beads on a bracelet

Coastal Redwoods

Coastal Redwoods

Leaf litter beneath the Coastal Redwoods

Leaf litter beneath the Coastal Redwoods

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Port Orford Cedar

Port Orford Cedar

Trail through the trees, Seward Park

Trail through the trees, Seward Park

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Painting Leaves from Life

November 12, 2013

“If you draw 1000 trees from life, then the tree you draw from imagination will have great integrity.”
— Frank Ching, quote found in Freehand Drawing and Discovery by James Richards

Watercolor sketch of bur oak leaves and acorns

Watercolor sketch of bur oak leaves and acorns

I am making a dent in drawing 1000 leaves (not trees) this autumn.  Most recently I had the greatest pleasure painting some bur oak leaves and acorns gathered from an historic old tree in Council Grove, Kansas.  Its “sprout date” is believed to be 1694.  According to the historic marker at the site, this bur oak “was part of the original grove that provided shelter, and wood for wagon repairs for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail.”

One of the bloggers I follow, Linda at The Task at Hand, gathered these souvenir acorns and leaves on a recent road trip, and she generously gifted them to me.  Linda knows I am inspired by the natural world to paint, and my encounter with these amazing bur oak leaves and acorns did indeed prompt me to pick up my brush.  The acorns are the biggest I’ve ever seen, and their furry caps make me think of Eskimo parka hoods.  I was surprised that the leaves were not gigantic, too.  I find bigger oak leaves all over the ground here in Washington State.

Thank you again, Linda, for such an extraordinary gift from Nature.

Bur oak leaf and capped acorns

Bur oak leaf and capped acorns

The acorns are huge

The acorns are huge

Comparing a bur oak leaf and acorns (green leaf and acorns on left) to leaf and acorns from Seattle (brown leaf and acorns on right)

Comparing a bur oak leaf and acorns (green leaf and acorns on left) to oak leaf and acorns from Seattle (brown leaf and acorns on right)

Displaying my gift

Displaying my gift

Underlying pencil sketch for my bur oak painting

Underlying pencil sketch for my bur oak painting

Tiny Acorns, Mighty Oaks

October 4, 2013

“Might oaks from tiny acorns grow.”
— English proverb

Watercolor sketch of three acorns

Watercolor sketch of three acorns

Gift for my daughter on the occasion of her 25th birthday

Gift for my daughter on the occasion of her 25th birthday

Today I’m sharing yet another watercolor painting of this season’s acorns.  I framed this sketch and presented it with a small jar of acorns to my daughter for her 25th birthday.  She’s a teacher, and I thought these small gifts would look nice on her desk at school — a reminder of her work preparing the soil for her students to thrive and grow.

 

 

 

Happy Autumn!

I’ve always found acorns to be quintessential symbols of autumn.  I enjoy painting them.

Watercolor sketch of five acorns

Watercolor sketch of five acorns

Watercolor sketch of another variety of acorn

Watercolor sketch of another variety of acorn

 Acorn
by Valerie Worth, from All the Small Poems and Fourteen More

An acorn
Fits perfectly
Into its shingled
Cup, with a stick
Attached
At the top.

Its polished
Nut curves
In the shape
Of a drop, drawn
Down to a thorn
At the tip,

And its heart
Holds folded
Thick white fat
From which
A marvelous
Tree grows up:

I think no better
Invention or
Mechanical trick
Could ever
Be bought
In a shop.

 

 

Why Do We Make Things?

September 17, 2013

Watercolor sketch of oak leaves and acorns

Watercolor sketch of oak leaves and acorns

I seem to be all over the map (again), wondering why I am spending my days the way I do.  Why do I take photos, again and again, of flowers and leaves, etc.? Haven’t I done that already?   Why do I spend my time creating blog posts after all these (4+) years, and would it make more sense to live my life off stage?  Especially when there are (many) days when I seem to have nothing to say?  Why am I taking up a paintbrush?  What am I trying to say, if anything, with my little watercolor sketches, such as these oak leaves and acorns?  (Maybe the value is in taking the time to see rather than in having something to say?)  But am I just replicating in paint what I am stuck with in photography?

So I maunder through the days and trust that I am learning something from the struggle.  And if I use these blog posts to natter, it is a reflection of my unsettled mind, and I hope you will bear with me.

Last week I went to a lecture entitled “Why Do We Make Things,” part of a series presented by Seattle’s Town Hall Arts & Culture.  I left after a few minutes, too antsy to listen to this panel of four artists talk about how they played in their Dad’s workshop or cut out paper dolls.  I wanted to hear some deep thoughts about the existential why.  I unfairly, perhaps, decided I wouldn’t learn anything from these artists’ personal stories.  I know I learn better from books, which I can ponder at my own pace.

This week I checked some books out of the library about the craft of writing, shaping words.  My daughter will be teaching her fifth grade students about voice, word choice, etc. and I thought I might stumble across a book or two with some ideas for her.  And I found one gem, Next Word, Better Word: The Craft of Writing Poetry by Stephen Dobyns, that spoke directly to my heart.  What he said about poetry applies equally to blogging, painting and the arts in general:

“I think when I first started writing in my teens and became increasingly committed to it in my early twenties, I wrote to be a contributing member of some great community . . . And I did it to be noticed, to be loved and authenticated.  I did it to be important.  I did it to give myself a voice.  I did it to be published.  I did it to have a job.  I did it to earn a merit raise.  I did it to push back the night.  I did it to sing.  Oh, I wrote for all sorts of reasons.  Then those reasons began to drop away, and now I do it mostly for itself.  I do it because I love it; I do it because I have no choice.  But the act of letting the poem go, of sending it out to be published, is now something I must make myself do.  And I do it to maintain my tenuous connection to the world. . . .  This connection, however, might be to only one person, one reader with whom the poet feels an affinity.  Nowadays I write for quite a few people who are no longer living.”

And I especially like this next Dobyns insight into why we make things:  “Writing a poem is one of the ways to love the world.”

And loving the world is always a worthy thing.