Maples Giving Forth Light

November 17, 2014

“The maples give forth light, like closer suns.  The oaks glow with garnet fire, and all the thickets blaze with scarlets and pale gold and cinnamon.   It is like the music of a trumpet.”
— Gladys Tabor, Stillmeadow Daybook

Glowing maple leaves, November

Glowing maple leaves, November

“The one red leaf, the last of its clan,
That dances as often as dance it can.”
—  Samuel Taylor Coleridge, from “Christobel”

Little Daily Miracles

November 11, 2014

“What is the meaning of life? . . . a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years.  The great revelation had never come.  The great revelation perhaps never did come.  Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark.”  —  Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

Clouds are always a miracle.

Clouds are always a miracle.

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From A Child's Calendar by John Updike

From A Child’s Calendar by John Updike

October
by John Updike

The  month is amber,
Gold, and brown.
Blue ghosts of smoke
Float through the town.

Great V’s of geese
Honk overhead,
And maples turn
A fiery red.

Frost bites the lawn,
The stars are slits
In a black cat’s eye
Before she spits.

At last, small witches,
Goblins, hags,
And pirates armed
With paper bags.

Their costumes hinged
On safety pins,
Go haunt a night
Of pumpkin grins.

Multi-colored maple leaf

Multi-colored maple leaf

Watercolor sketch of maple leaf

Watercolor sketch of maple leaf

Watercolor sketch of maple leaf

Watercolor sketch of maple leaf

 

Mid-October

October 19, 2014

Watercolor sketch of maple leaf

Watercolor sketch of maple leaf

Another watercolor sketch of maple leaf

Another watercolor sketch of maple leaf

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Mid-October
by David Budbill, from Moment to Moment: Poems of a Mountain Recluse

Almost all the leaves
are down.  Rain.

Clouds make a fog
just above the trees.

The world colder
more empty every day.

My favorite
time of year.

Without Regret

November 16, 2013

Watercolor sketch of fallen maple leaves

Watercolor sketch of fallen maple leaves

“When I rise up
let me rise up joyful
like a bird.

When I fall
let me fall without regret
like a leaf.”
     — Wendell Berry, from “Prayers and Sayings of the Made Farmer”

 

Early Birds

October 23, 2013

“An hour in the morning is worth two in the afternoon.”
— attributed to William Corbett

We all know about time’s relativity. I dedicate this post to all the morning people.  You know who you are.

Watercolor sketch with quote

Wings Like Green Moths

September 12, 2013

“They are nearly two inches long by one-half inch wide, with veined inner edges to the wings like green moths, ready to bear off their seeds.”
— Henry David Thoreau, Faith in a Seed

Watercolor sketch of maple leaves and seeds

Watercolor sketch of maple leaves and seeds

“In all our maples, a thin membrane, in appearance much like an insect’s wing, grows over and around the seed while the latter is being developed within its base. . . . In other words, a beautiful thin sack is woven around the seed, with a handle to it such as the wind can take hold of and it is then committed to the wind, expressly that it may transport the seed and extend the range of the species, and this it does as effectually as when seeds are sent by mail in a different kind of sack from the Patent Office.”
— Henry David Thoreau, Faith in a Seed

 

 

Ice Armor

January 10, 2013

Frost-rimed grasses in the garden

Frost-rimed grasses in the garden

“Every leaf and twig was this morning covered with a sparkling ice armor; even the grasses in exposed fields were hung with innumerable diamond pendants, which jingled merrily when brushed by the foot of the traveller.  It was literally the wreck of jewels and the crash of gems.”
— Henry David Thoreau, Journals, January 21, 1838

I remember ice storms from my childhood in Minnesota — every tree, branch and twig was coated in a clear shield of ice.  Too bright for unprotected eyes.  Precarious footing.  And yes, merry tinkling when the shards of ice fell down.

These frosty January mornings in Seattle are a less piercing pleasure — no crashing crystals, just a silent icy edging.  Here are some photos of this magical world:

These grasses looked like ribbon with their white edging giving a pleasant contrast

These grasses looked like ribbon with their white edging giving a pleasant contrast

Petal pattern, with frost

Petal pattern, with frost

Edged ferns

Edged ferns

Christmas colors!  Red and green.

Christmas colors! Red and green.

In the winter garden

In the winter garden

Layered maple leaves

Layered maple leaves

Nature's calligraphy

Nature’s calligraphy

The frost gives a new meaning to the idea of a white garden.

The frost gives a new meaning to the idea of a white garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maple trees stripped of leaves

Maple trees stripped of leaves

This post concludes my year-long Tree-Watching Project.  I started this project in December of last year and followed my “adopted” willow and maple trees through all four seasons.  I will, of course, continue to notice, observe, and remark upon interesting tree happenings in the year to come, but my “official” project is over.

My “adopted” maple and willow trees have now been stripped of all their leaves after a very rainy, windy, and blustery few weeks.  What leaves have not blown away remain in soggy ground cover beneath the trees.

Wet maple leaves stuck together in the grass

Wet maple leaves stuck together in the grass

The maple tree is now bare of leaves

The maple tree is now bare of leaves

Decaying maple leaf stuck to the sidewalk

Decaying maple leaf stuck to the sidewalk

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Fallen willow leaves, almost iridescent and velvety to touch

New life, new buds on the willow tree

New life, new buds on the willow tree

It seems fitting to end this series with the promise of new life, the first buds on the willow tree.

You may recall that I found the inspiration for my tree-watching project from reading Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees by Nancy Hugo.  So for the book lovers among you, here is a review of some remarkable tree books published this year, which I found listed in this article in the New York Times Sunday Book Review.  I’ve already reserved most of these titles at my local library.  Enjoy!

Superimposed maple leaves

“Every blade in the field — every leaf in the forest — lays down its life in its season as beautifully as it was taken up.  It is the pastime of a full quarter of the year. . . . And what is that pride of our autumnal scenery but the hectic flush — its painted throes — with the November air for canvas?”
—  Henry David Thoreau, “October, or Autumnal Tints”

It’s been a while since I’ve photographed my “adopted” maple trees and willow.  After a few windy, blustery November days, almost all of the willow leaves have fallen.  The maple holds on to its lower leaves, but the upper branches are stripped of leaves.

Last golden maple leaves cling to the tree’s lower branches

My “adopted” maple trees in late November

A lone willow leaf

Fallen willow leaf