“Men are like trees, each one must put forth the leaf that is created in him.”
Henry Ward Beecher

What kind of leaf are you best represented by?

“I give dates because I am a date tree.  Not everyone likes dates.  I tire of them, too.  I would like to give oranges, pomegranates, or coconuts.  But I don’t happen to grow anything but dates, unfortunately.”
— Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Against Wind and Tide: Letters and Journals 1947 – 1986

“But at the same time, those same two qualities — knowing that we have within us something that marks each of us in a special way and that this quality has been given to use for some reason greater than ourselves — are the essence of coming to wholeness.  The task of determining what that quality is and what to do with it is the single great work of being alive.”
— Joan Chittister, Following the Path:  The Search for a Life of Passion, Purpose, and Joy

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”
— e. e. cummings

“Am I still the person I have spent a lifetime becoming, and do I still want to be that person?”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom

“Here we stop saying, ‘Well, that’s just the way I am,’ and begin to say, ‘There is more that I can be.’ ”
— Joan Chittister, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily:  Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today

I love these quotes because they make me think.  How much of who I am is “God-given” and how much can I control?  When I see my mother in me, or see similar mannerisms and qualities among my eight siblings (stubborn, opinionated, among them), then I know that nature and nurture have perhaps irredeemably shaped large parts of my being.  The leaf does not fall far from the tree!

Looked at that way, the challenge is to develop my talents and tendencies to bring out the best rather than the worst.  To make what can be only my unique contribution to the world.  To champion differences rather than pressure others to fit into my comfort zone.

And yet, there must be a large dose of choice at work.  Can I choose to become a better person, to overcome my faults, to grow into the person I am meant to be?  Can I choose a new path, regardless of my age?  What leaves can I bring forth, and with what vigor?

I think that the leaves of the geranium are more interesting than the flowers.

Red Geraniums
by Martha Haskell Clark

Life did not bring me silken gowns,
Nor jewels for my hair,
Nor signs of gabled foreign towns
In distant countries fair,
But I can glimpse, beyond my pane, a green and friendly hill,
And red geraniums aflame upon my window sill.

The brambled cares of everyday,
The tiny humdrum things,
May bind my feet when they would stray,
But still my heart has wings
While red geraniums are bloomed against my window glass,
And low above my green-sweet hill the gypsy wind-clouds pass.

And if my dreamings ne’er come true,
The brightest and the best,
But leave me lone my journey through,
I’ll set my heart at rest,
And thank God for home-sweet things, a green and friendly hill,
And red geraniums aflame upon my window sill.

Alley in Pioneer Square, Seattle, brightened by geraniums

Red geraniums, Pioneer Square

Red geraniums in the alley

Watercolor sketch of geranium leaf

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”
–Alice Walker

Pale purple gladiolus

A purple trio of geranium flowers

Purple pansies all in a row

Purple poppies

Lovely magenta poppies


Somewhere between purple and red, knautica macedonica

Plum-colored hydrangea


Clematis vine

Late season lavender

Fuchsia-colored foxglove, purplish pink

Purplish-pinks and blues of sweet peas

Plums, Pike Place Market

Bing cherries, Pike Place Market

This concludes our walks along the color wheel.  Hope you enjoyed the rambles!

May your summer be filled with red letter days!

Lucifer crocosmia

Two pots of strikingly red geraniums brighten this yard.

Hummingbird feeder, no hummers

Ethereal poppy

Boat rentals at Green Lake

Ubiquitous red stop signs

Rainier cherries, Pike Place Market

Raspberries, Pike Place Market

Fire engine red

Red chairs in the pavilion at Olympic Sculpture Park, with “Encounters with Water” wall art

The Seattle signature (muted) wardrobe brightened by a red beach bucket






With all the blooming going on, our Seattle landscapes are saturated in color right now.  But interestingly, my eye was drawn not to flowers, but to foliage, on my most recent visit to the gardens at the Center for Urban Horticulture (http://depts.washington.edu/uwbg/visit/cuh.php).  Here are some photos:

Sword-like leaves, Center for Urban Horticulture

Lovely purples and greens of heuchera

In the gardens at the Center for Urban Horticulture

Heuchera: repeating patterns

Another heuchera? Greens and purple

Trio of hearts

Red geraniums

The flash of red -- geraniums!

“In my own worst seasons I’ve come back from the colorless world of despair by forcing myself to look hard, for a long time, at a single glorious thing:  a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window.  And then another:  my daughter in a yellow dress.  And another: the perfect outline of a full, dark sphere behind the crescent moon.  Until I learned to be in love with my life again.  Like a stroke victim retraining new parts of the brain to grasp lost skills, I have taught myself joy, over and over again.”
     — Barbara Kingsolver, High Tide in Tucson