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


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






Dappled summer shade — under the maple tree

“And so the root
becomes a trunk
And then a tree
And seeds of trees
And springtime sap
And summer shade
And autumn leaves
And shape of poems
And dreams —
And more than tree.”
— from “For Russell and Rowena Jelliffe,” Uncollected Poems 1961-1967, by Langston Hughes

Time marches on, as evidenced by the slow changes on my “adopted” maple tree.  My photo for this post captured the dappled shade on one of the last days of summer.  The autumn equinox is at 7:49 a.m. tomorrow morning in Seattle.

Leaves and seeds

Watercolor sketch of leaves and seeds showing fall colors

These acorns are still green, not brown

” . . . the iconic image [is] of a brown, ovoid nut with a woody tam o’shanter top.  But the acorn is way more variable than that.  Tree lovers, collectors, and life list keepers take note:  a fine travel goal would be to collect one acorn from all seventy species of oak trees that grow in North America. . .”
—  Nancy Ross Hugo, Seeing Trees:  Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees

I find acorns irresistible.  They are small treasures, pocketable, smooth to the touch, a pleasant round shape.  When I see them, I cannot help but take a handful home.  While I like Nancy Ross Hugo’s suggestion to collect acorns from all seventy species of oak trees, I take a far less scientific approach.  I just admire their beauty, without identifying their exact species.

One of my goals for my week off work was to paint something everyday.  Several of those watercolor sketches were devoted to acorns.  Here they are:

Watercolor sketch of oak leaf with green acorns

Specimens from my collection

Oak leaves with acorns

Another variety of oak leaves and acorns

Oak leaf with five acorns

A circle of acorns