Fuchsia

Fuchsia

Trumpet flowers

Trumpet flowers

Leaf

Leaf

Calla lilies

Calla lilies

Trees

Trees

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Face

Face

Crow

Crow

Hands

Hands

The end

The end

It was a rush to the finish, but I did complete this project by the end of the year as I had hoped.  Time for new projects in 2017.

 

Happy New Year!

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

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.

 

 

“If you can paint one leaf, you can paint the whole world.”
— John Ruskin

“Leaves are the verbs that conjugate the seasons.”
— Gretel Ehrlich, The Solace of Open Spaces

Watercolor sketch of maple leaves in May

Watercolor sketch of willow leaves in May

New leaf buds have appeared on the thin willow branches

The gray pussy willows are looking scruffy after all of this spring’s wind and rain, but I noticed that the tree’s branches are now sporting new leaf buds along its branches, particularly on the branches that are sprouting from the trunk.

New buds, willow branch

New buds on the willow tree

Watercolor sketch of willow buds and pussy willows, late March

Gone Into the Fields

March 6, 2012

“Away, away, from men and towns,
To the wild wood and the downs-
To the silent wilderness
Where the soul need not repress
Its music lest it should not find
An echo in another’s mind,
While the touch of Nature’s art
Harmonizes heart to heart.
I leave this notice on my door
For each accustom’d visitor:-
‘I am gone into the fields
To take what this sweet hour yields.'”

Percy Bysshe Shelley, from “The Invitation”

Plowed fields under a dusting of snow

I’ve just returned from a week’s trip to Minnesota to stay with my 93-year-old Dad on the family farm.  It’s been an unseasonally dry and almost snow-less winter in Minnesota, but a storm passed through during my stay.  The farm was on the south fringes of the storm front, and we got just a small amount of snow, some rain, and sleet.  My sister, who lives in northern Minnesota, got 10-inches of snowfall in one day!

The farm is quiet in winter.  I enjoyed my solitary walks through the woods and fields.  Like Shelley, I kept my eyes open to what the Minnesota winter yielded.

Water after it has passed through the culverts under our driveway

Thin ice

My brother raises elk; this is his bull elk (looks like it has a third antler!).

Empty nest

Animal tracks in the snow . . . raccoon?

Dried leaf

 

 

Watching Houseplants

February 1, 2012

Over the past several days, I’ve been watching a new leaf unfurl on my houseplant.  I think it might be some kind of Monstera plant.  It’s one spot of green in my winter.

New leaf

Starting to unfurl. Its color is quite bronze.

Opening up and turning green

Leaves -- old and new

Watercolor sketch of unfurling Monstera leaves

“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

“It rained and rained and rained and rained.  It drizzled — misted — drooled — spat — poured — and just plain rained.”
— Betty MacDonald, The Egg and I

“Other days were just gray and low hanging with a continual pit-pat-pit-pat-pitta-patta-pitta-patta which became as vexing as listening to baby talk.”
— Betty MacDonald, The Egg and I

Sumac in the rain

Fallen leaf with raindrops

We’ve been having a rainy October in Seattle.  I’m ready for some sunshine!

 

I love these close-ups of leaves — such variety at the Volunteer Park Conservatory.