Here is a look at the fallen leaves of my “adopted” maple and willow trees.

Frost-tinged maple leaves

Radiating "bones" of the maple leaf

Decomposing maple leaf on the sidewalk

Fallen maple leaf with frost

This maple leaf was frozen upright.

I'm still not sure if this "adopted" tree is a willow. Its leaves are soft and velvety.

Watercolor sketch of willow leaves in winter

Frost on fallen horse chestnut leaves

Frosted winter buds of horse chestnut tree

I visited my “adopted” horse chestnut trees on a recent frosty morning.  I am not seeing much change yet in the winter buds.  But the fallen leaves are slowly decomposing, and I find that the holes look like lacework, especially when the leaves are tinged with frost.  The array of colors in these “brown” leaves is amazing, too.

I am appreciative of the cycle of life and death this winter.  The decaying leaves will provide nutrients for new growth.

“It is inevitable that you are indebted to the past.  You are fed and formed by it.  The old forest is decomposed for the composition of the new forest.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Decomposing horse chestnut leaves

Decaying horse chestnut leaf

I love how the fallen horse chestnut leaves curl up like curvy cigars.

Watercolor sketch of horse chestnut leaves in winter

Hoar Frosted World

January 29, 2012

“The frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind.”
— Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Frosty flowers in a winter garden

“Thick blows my frosty
breath abroad;
and tree and house,
and hill and lake,
are frosted like
a wedding cake.”
— Robert Louis Stevenson

The frost-gilded world is magical.  It’s amazing that a gray palette can be so varied and interesting!  Here are some photos from a cold winter morning in Seattle:

Our bushes

Frosty paths at Green Lake

Delicate leaf skeleton in the grass

Frosted purple cabbage

Green cabbage rimed in white

Frosted seed head

Frosted flowers in a winter garden

Another view, new focus

Single frosted flower

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”
— Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Frosted edges

“I believe that a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.”
— Walt Whitman

I stand in awe of the Great Mysteries of Life.  It seems so miraculous that the swirling atoms that make up our physical bodies are just so much “empty” space, echoing the vast spaces between stars and planets.  That when we die, our atoms will not disappear, but simply change form.  And what is the spark that animates our body?  By what mystery did it arrive?  And by what mystery does it leave, and where does it go?

We live in a wonder-full world.  And Thoreau reminds us that Nature can connect us to that wonder, to that mystery.  Other writers and poets also state it well:

“One of the hardest lessons we have to learn in this life, and one that many persons never learn, is to see the divine, the celestial, the pure, in the common, the near at hand — to see heaven lies about us here in this world.”
— John Burroughs, Leaf and Tendril

” . . . the most solid, reliable things in existence — a seashell, a tree branch, a pothole in the middle of the road — partake of God’s mystery.”
— Deepak Chopra, How to Know God

“To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.”
— William Blake, “Auguries of Innocence”

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God.”
— Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“The lesson which life repeats and constantly reinforces is ‘look under foot.’  You are always nearer the divine and the true sources of your power than you think.  The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive.  The great opportunity is where you are.  Do not despise your own place and hour.  Every place is under the stars.  Every place is the center of the world.”
— John Burroughs

Neighbor, lost in a cloud of exhaust, scrapes his car windows.

This is a winter morning in Seattle.  Many of us who live in the city do not have garages, so we park our vehicles outside overnight.  We have to remember to allow a bit of extra time to scrape the ice from our windshields on these frosty mornings.  I hate to have my car idle and emit exhaust for too long, but the car needs to be on while the windshield defroster does its work.  Here, one of my neighbors is almost lost in a cloud of exhaust as he clears the ice from his vehicle.  It rather reminds me of those old steam engines you see in movies gathering enough pressure to take off down the railroad tracks.


“November always seemed to me the Norway of the Year.”
— Emily Dickinson

Frosty leaves in the gutter

Icy raindrops on these frosty leaves look like peas in a pod

“November is Autumn’s burial . . .”
— Donald Hall, Seasons at Eagle Pond

“Winter starts in November, whatever the calendar says, with gray of granite, with russet and brown of used leaves.”
— Donald Hall, Seasons at Eagle Pond

It’s dark, it’s cold, it’s gray and brown.  Yes, it certainly feels like mid-Winter already, though it’s not even December yet.

In-Between Time

December 8, 2010

Frost patterns on my car window

Frosty leaves and grass

It Was Beginning Winter
by Theodore Roethke

It was beginning winter,
An in-between time,
The landscape still partly brown:
The bones of weeds kept swinging in the wind,
Above the blue snow.

It was beginning winter,
The light moved slowly over the frozen field,
Over the dry seed-crowns,
The beautiful surviving bones
Swinging in the wind.

Light traveled over the wide field;
The weeds stopped swinging.
The mind moved, not alone,
Through the clear air, in the silence.

Was it light?
Was it light within?
Was it light within light?
Stillness becoming alive,
Yet still?

A lively understandable spirit
Once entertained you.
It will come again.
Be still.

Frosty, Silvery Sheen

December 26, 2009

Assorted frosty leaves

Yesterday was crispy and cold.  I woke to the silvery sheen of a frost-lined world.  I love the patterns that emerge, become visible, when leaves are edged in white frost.

Frosty fern

Frost-edged shrub

Pattern of leaves trimmed in white frost

Frost, soon to melt in the sunshine

Frosty ivy

Frost-edged palm leaf

Frosty Mornings

December 11, 2009

The frost on my car window looked like falling stars.

Morning reflections in a neighbor's outdoor ornament

The last maple tree with leaves -- like a dying flame

Slippery footing on this icy log

We’ve been having a string of days with temperatures below freezing.  Here are a few photographs from my frosty morning at Green Lake taken shortly after sunrise at 7:47 a.m.

Clear Moon, Frost Soon

December 4, 2009

Embroidered and quilted pillow

Detail of embroidery -- Clear Moon, Frost Soon

This is one of the pillow covers, handmade in 2000, that I use during the winter months.  I was reminded of it when my eye was caught by frost-lined leaves while I awaited the setting of the full moon at Green Lake.  The frost edged the leaves like silvery white glitter.

Big-leaf maple on a frosty morning

The veins of this leaf are delicately dusted in white frost

Veins like the ribs of a fan

The edges of this leaf mimic the greenery

Frost-lined leaf in the grass