Leaf Medley

 

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Withered leaves

Withered leaves

“Though leaves are many, the root is one;
Through all the lying days of my youth
I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun,
Now may I wither into the truth.” — William Butler Yeats

This poem was the doorway into a lovely article about living old age that I read yesterday morning online at “On Being.”  I hope you take a moment to read it, too.

Multiplied Green

April 22, 2016

Dogwood tree, like upside-down umbrellas

Dogwood tree, like upside-down umbrellas

Metamorphosis
by May Sarton

Always it happens when we are not there —
The tree leaps up alive into the air.
Small open parasols of Chinese green
Wave on each twig.  But who has ever seen
The latch sprung, the bud as it burst?
Spring always manages to get there first.

Lovers of wind, who will have been aware
Of a faint stirring in the empty air,
Look up one day through a dissolving screen
To find no star, but this multiplied green,
Shadow on shadow, singing sweet and clear.
Listen, lovers of wind, the leaves are here!

Dogwood tree

Dogwood tree

This is the season of the greening of the world.  Trees and bushes and lawns are in a range of green values.  Some trees are in full leaf.  Others are still emerging green.  And it’s true, you can’t ever seem to catch the exact moment when the green bursts forth.  Suddenly it’s just there.

Big-leaf maple, new leaves and flowers

Big-leaf maple, new leaves and flowers

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Deciduous Spring
by Robert Penn Warren

Now, now, the world
All gabbles joy like geese, for
An idiot glory the sky
Bangs.  Look!
Now, are
Bangles dangling and
Spangling, in sudden air
Wangling, then
Hanging quiet, bright.

The world comes back, and again
Is gabbling, and yes,
Remarkably worse, for
the world is a whirl of
Green mirrors gone wild with
Deceit, and the world
Whirls green on a string, then
The leaves go quiet, wink
From their own shade, secretly.

Keep still, just a moment, leaves.

There is something I am trying to remember.

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Everything is On the Run

November 1, 2014

My daughter running through fall leaves, 1991

My daughter running through fall leaves, 1991

Fall Wind
by Aileen Fisher

Everything is on the run —
willows swishing in the sun,
branches full of dip and sway,
falling leaves that race away,
pine trees tossing on the hill —
nothing’s quiet, nothing’s still,
all the sky is full of song:
“Winter’s coming. Won’t be long.”

The Sound of September

September 30, 2014

“Sometimes I like to be alone and listen to the sound of leaves about to fall, which is the sound of September.”
— Gladys Tabor, Stillmeadow Daybook

Watercolor sketch of fall leaves

Watercolor sketch of fall leaves

Wordless

April 8, 2014

National Poetry Month.8

The world articulated in sunlight, leaves and shadows

The world articulated in sunlight, leaves and shadows

Words
by Dana Gioia

The world does not need words.  It articulates itself
in sunlight, leaves, and shadows.  The stones on the path
are no less real for lying uncatalogued and uncounted.
The fluent leaves speak only the dialect of pure being.
The kiss is still fully itself though no words were spoken.

And one word transforms it into something less or other —
illicit, chaste, perfunctory, conjugal, covert.
Even calling it a kiss betrays the fluster of hands
glancing the skin or gripping a shoulder, the slow
arching of neck or knee, the silent touching of tongues.

Yet the stones remain less real to those who cannot
name them, or read the mute syllables graven in silica.
To see a red stone is less than seeing it as jasper —
metamorphic quartz, cousin to the flint the Kiowa
carved as arrowheads.  To name is to know and remember.

The sunlight needs no praise piercing the rainclouds,
painting the rocks and leaves with light, then dissolving
each lucent droplet back into the clouds that engendered it.
The daylight needs no praise, and so we praise it always —
greater than ourselves and all the airy words we summon.

The world might not need words, but I believe that humans do.  Words connect us.

“To name is to know.”  I don’t know the name of the tree whose leaves I photographed for today’s post.  Am I seeing it less because I cannot identify the tree?

 

 

 

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