Echoing Green

May 11, 2016



“Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.”
— Pedro Calderon de la Barca

Foliage of bleeding heart

Foliage of bleeding heart

Queen Anne's lace

Queen Anne’s lace


“The thing about trees is that they know what to do.  When a leaf loses its color, it’s not because its time is up and it’s dying, it’s because the tree is taking back into itself the nutrients the leaf’s been holding in reserve for it, out there on the twig, and why leaves change color in autumn is because the tree is preparing for winter, it’s filling itself with its own stored health so it can withstand the season.  Then, clever tree, it literally pushes the used leaf off with the growth that’s coming behind it.  But because that growth has to protect itself through winter too, the tree fills the little wound in its branch or twig where the leaf was with a protective corky stuff that seals it against cold and bacteria.  Otherwise every leaf lost would be an open wound on a tree and a single tree would be covered in thousands of little wounds.”
— Ali Smith, Artful

Oak leaves beginning to change color

Oak leaves beginning to change color

Watercolor sketch of oak leaves

Watercolor sketch of oak leaves



Walking the bald cypress-lined path at Green Lake

The bald cypress is an intriguing tree.  Its leaves look like the needles of evergreen trees, so when they begin turning color in the fall, you wonder whether the tree is diseased.  But no, it is in fact a deciduous tree, and the color change is normal.  It’s also a conifer.  Green Lake Park in Seattle has several tall specimens.

Cones of the bald cypress

Impressionist-like curtain of foliage — turning rusty orange in November



New leaf, tulip tree

June foliage, tulip tree

I seem to be doing a lot of tree watching lately.  This Liriodendron tulipifera, or Tulip Tree, is growing just down the street from my home.  It is native to the Eastern US, but seems to be doing well here in Seattle.  It can grow to be the largest of the North American native deciduous trees and is famous for its gorgeous autumn foliage.

But right now, I like the curving lines of its leaf edges and its flowers.  The tree is in bloom, and the flowers do indeed look like tulips.

The tulip tree flowers in June.

The blossoms resemble tulips.

Looking up, view from beneath a bloom.



Horse chestnut tree in flower

I do miss the horse chestnut trees that were removed from our street corner, but I can’t help but notice them around the city right now because they are in full bloom.  And their flowers are gigantic!  I like the Scarlet Horse Chestnut trees — there are a lot of them blooming at the Ballard Locks right now.  Their flowers are like little red Christmas trees decorating the green horse chestnut trees.

Scarlet horse chestnut flowers

Scarlet horse chestnut trees at the Ballard Locks

Towering trees at the Ballard Locks

I really like the shape and arrangement of the leaves of these trees.  Here are some shots looking up into the canopy:

The leaves make a lovely pattern

Horse chestnut trees in Columbia City

“. . . there is a deluge.  I’ve never seen such rain.  It is a revolt in the heavens, a mortal convulsion of the earth.  The world is sobbing in desperation, sobbing to death, knowing that it cannot die and that there will always be more tears to shed.”
— Simone de Beauvoir, writing about New Orleans in America Day by Day

Raindrops and new leaves

When will it stop raining?

When the forecast is for 100% chance of rain on your day off work, you sometimes just have to make the most of it and get outside with the camera anyway.  Here are a few shots from today’s walk in the rain.

Blossoms dripping with rain

Rain dotted foliage, diamonds on green

Raindrops on bleeding heart

A Cloak Spread for a Queen

November 12, 2011

A gallant cloak of red

“A queen might be proud to walk where these gallant trees have spread their bright cloaks in the mud.”
— Henry David Thoreau, “Autumnal Tints”

Beautiful red maple leaves

Maple leaves hanging like red jewels

Watercolor sketch of maple leaves

“It was one of those perfect English autumnal days, which occur more frequently in memory than in life.”
— P. D. James

Vacant bench along the shores of Green Lake

This was one of those nearly perfect days of fall in the Pacific Northwest.  Join me for a virtual walk around Green Lake.

Lake path with Bathhouse Theater on the distant shore

An alley of yellow on the north side of Green Lake

Old evergreen trees

Puddle in the footpath

Lovely pattern of yellow and green leaves

On the dock

Foraging squirrel

Maple leaves along the shore

Fall color at Green Lake

On the shores of Green Lake

I returned home to Seattle just in time to catch some of the local fall color, which is particularly beautiful this year.

God’s World
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour!  That gaunt crag
To crush!  To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this:
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart, — Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me, — let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

Late fall foliage along Hwy 52 nearing Rochester, MN

Patch of remaining fall color, taken from the airplane window as I departed Minnesota

I arrived too late to enjoy the peak of fall color in Minnesota.  This was a disappointment.  Everyone told me that the brilliance lasted just a short time this year and was gone in a flash.  I can’t seem to time my visits right to catch the gorgeous color.  By the time I arrived, the Minnesota landscape was mostly shades of brown and green.

Late October
by Maya Angelou

the leaves of autumn
sprinkle down the tinny
sound of little dyings
and skies sated
of ruddy sunsets
of roseate dawns
roil ceaselessly in
cobweb greys and turn
to black
for comfort.

Only leaves
see the fall
a signal end to endings
a gruffish gesture alerting
those who will not be alarmed
that we begin to stop
in order simply
to begin