“All that lives must die, passing through nature to eternity.”
— William Shakespeare

Yellow warbler

This yellow warbler flew into the glass windows on the library’s patio deck, and it died.  One of my colleagues brought it inside, hoping that it was just stunned and would revive.  But it was truly dead.

All sudden death is shocking.

Yellow warbler in death

Yellow warbler

Detail of wing and feathers

I happened to be reading a book by a licensed bird rehabilitator — The Bluebird Effect:  Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds by Julie Zickefoose.  The book is filled with stories about encounters with birds that came into Zick’s life and home during their convalescences.  She remarked on the special difficulty of working with songbirds that need feeding frequently — nestlings need to be fed every 20 to 45 minutes, from dawn to dusk!  Had the warbler survived, but with broken bones, it would have required some labor-intensive care.

The Bluebird Effect is written by a bird rehabilitator

I loved Zickefoose’s watercolors and pencil sketches of birds.

Spring All in a Rush

May 5, 2012

Flowers at the University District Farmers Market

“The first days of May bring spring all in a rush.”
— Elisabeth Luard, A Cook’s Year in a Welsh Farmhouse

My camera is getting a workout every time I step outside my door.  Here is a sampling of the Spring “rush” seen through my camera lens.

Buying fresh produce at a farmers market

Jugs of juice, University District Farmers Market

Ladyfern fiddleheads, University District Farmers Market

Bright yellow flowers growing in a parking strip

Delicate, blushing-pink maple helicopters (not from my “adopted” trees)

Rhododendron blossoms

Tulips growing horizontally along the ground!

Tulip with falling petal

Painting with Pollen

April 24, 2012

"Pollen from Hazelnut" by Wolfgang Laib (1995-96)

You wouldn’t think that a patch of yellow would be so mesmerizing.

Wolfgang Laib’s “Pollen from Hazelnut” is currently installed at the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington.  This unusual piece of art is a square “field” of pollen collected from the area around Laib’s home in Germany.  It is part of the collection of the Henry Art Gallery, and the pollen is stored in a glass jar when it is not on exhibit on the floor for patrons to view from a doorway.

It reminded me of Rothko’s abstract “Red” paintings, only done in brilliant yellow.  Your thinking mind has to constantly remind itself that it is looking at pollen, not paint.  You just aren’t accustomed to seeing pollen applied as an art medium.

If you are intrigued, you can read more about this installation in a recent Seattle Times review at this link.

Soft edges

Pollen viewed from across the hall

"Pollen from Hazelnut" at the Henry Art Gallery

(Special thanks to my friend, Carol, for telling me about this exhibit and urging me to see it.)

“Colors are the smiles of nature.”
— Leigh Hunt

Looking into the cup of a tulip

“Of all God’s gifts to the sighted man, color is holiest, the most divine, the most solemn.”
— John Ruskin

“Mere colour, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.”
— Oscar Wilde

“Shut your eyes, wait, think of nothing. Now, open them … one sees nothing but a great coloured undulation. What then? An irradiation and glory of colour. This is what a picture should give us … an abyss in which the eye is lost, a secret germination, a coloured state of grace … loose consciousness. Descend with the painter into the dim tangled roots of things, and rise again from them in colours, be steeped in the light of them.”
— Paul Cezanne

Well, you cannot help but be steeped in the light of color during tulip season.

Detail, tulip

"Yellow is capable of charming God." -- Vincent Van Gogh

Detail, tulip

Forsythia: Golden Stars

March 19, 2012

“Tomorrow the twigs of forsythia will be sprinkled all over with golden stars . . .”
— Karel Capek, The Gardener’s Year

Forsythia in bloom

Sprightly branches of forsythia

Detail of forsythia branches

Early blossoms, forsythia

“Forsythia is pure joy.  There is not an ounce, not a glimmer of sadness or even knowledge in forsythia.  Pure, undiluted, untouched joy.”
— Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Watercolor sketch of forsythia

Another watercolor sketch of forsythia


Yellow crocuses like beacons of candlelight

“A little candlelight at a gray wall,
One dauntless moment snatched from the March brawl
And, like the candlelight, to be forgot.”
— Louise Beebe Wilder, Colour in My Garden

My favorite bits from the above quote are the words “March brawl,” which certainly capture the blustery weather we’ve been having lately.  Yesterday it even snowed briefly during one rain shower — the drops thickened until they became snowflakes.

Today’s post celebrates the unassuming crocus, which clusters near the ground, striving to stay erect under the blows of March’s changeable weather.

Cluster of purple crocuses

Fully opened blooms

Sheltered from the rain on my kitchen windowsill

Watercolor sketch of crocuses

Another watercolor sketch of crocuses

Yellow daffodil

I arrived home from Minnesota last week to see the daffodils in bloom.  Spring is much farther along here than in the Midwest.  But March is fickle, and yesterday we had some snow flurries, which whisked away again in the general cold and rainy weather.  The daffodils do bring a nice touch of yellow radiance to the grayness of the day.

“The sweetest and fairest of spring’s yellow blossoms has been for many weeks sending up its slender water-green spears and opening a radiant blossom here and there — until they are assembled army strong . . . Daffodil time is again upon the land.”
— Louise Beebe Wilder, Colour in My Garden

Daffodils assembled "army strong"

Daffodils on "slender water-green spears"

White and yellow daffodils

Ink sketch of daffodils

Witch Hazel

February 21, 2012

The witch hazel is blooming, mostly in yellow, but some pink, too.

Witch hazel adding a touch of yellow to our gray winter days.

Witch hazel bloom

Witch hazel in bloom at Green Lake

Pink witch hazel?

Another bush with witch hazel blooms and old leaves

Still life with witch hazel and old leaf

Watercolor sketch of witch hazel and leaf


The Signature Mark of Autumn

November 19, 2011

“The signature mark of autumn has arrived at last with the rains:  orange of pumpkin, orange persimmon, orange lichen on rocks and fallen logs; a copper moon hung low over the orchard; moist, ruddy limbs of the madrone, russet oak leaf, storm-peeled redwood, acorns emptied by squirrels and jays; and mushrooms, orange boletes, Witch’s Butter sprouting on rotted oak, the Deadly Galerina, and of course, chanterelles, which we’ll eat tonight with pasta, goat cheese, and wine.”
— Gary Young, “The Signature Mark of Autumn”

Fallen leaves in yellows, golds, and browns

Fall colors at Molbaks Nursery

The signature colors of fall at Molbaks Nursery

Chanterelles, a gift from my sister and brother-in-law

Chanterelles for supper

Pale yellow star magnolia blossom

Magnolia buds and blossoms
Star magnolia in pale yellow

Until today, I’ve never seen magnolia blossoms in pale yellow.  This tree caught my eye on my walk home from Green Lake this morning.  I like it when my senses are awakened by something new and different.