“Can I watch?”

“I have paints too! You can use mine if you want.”

Two young neighbors, Emilio and Lukas, joined me at the picnic table as I painted trees this afternoon. I declined their generous offer to use their psychedelic-colored paints, but we chatted about tree shapes and nature journaling while we painted.

Bare branches swayed gracefully in the light breeze, while the sun highlighted twigs and cast shadows on the trunk of the Horse Chestnut. The Black Locust was black and still, branches silhouetted darkly against the blue sky. It always has an eerie, gnarly look, unlike the inviting, life-filled branches of the Horse Chestnut.

I know there’s something living in the Locust tree– the dogs sniff around the base with great interest, but I suspect it’s nocturnal, since I rarely even see a squirrel in it. Jonathan once discovered a flying squirrel nest in it, but that was years ago.

The Horse Chestnut is a highway and home to many bird species and squirrels. Right outside my studio window, it brings nature to my side with abundance and constant variety. Right now its buds are swelling larger by the day, preparing to burst into bloom in a couple of weeks.

Here’s the squirrel who comes via the Horse Chestnut to my feeder. I did this quick sketch of him with my paper on the windowsill and the squirrel right on the other side of the glass, stopping often to watch me paint him.

As I rinsed my brushes, third-grade Emilio showed me the yellow pollen-laden stamens he had carefully painted on a flower and explained that he hadn’t painted the ovary and ovules this time. First-grader Lukas smiled shyly but proudly as he showed me his brilliant tree with orange trunk and green crown. Then they headed home, calling over their shoulders that they would come back to paint with me again after school tomorrow. It was a good plein air painting session.

Sick Day

I have a bad cold and a fever today and haven’t been able to get motivated to do much of anything. I’ve done some dog training, a little reading, and some writing, but haven’t felt like my brain is working at peak performance, or anywhere near peak. I spent much of the morning in my rocking chair with Silver purring in my lap– delightful and soothing.

While sitting there sipping tea, I also sketched whoever stopped by the bird feeders, as well as Silver lying in my lap. Sketching calms me, focuses me, and helps me step more fully into the present moment. In addition, I end up with a record of what I saw on a given date, and I often refer back to previous years’ entries to compare with the current season.

March Haiku

My friend Sarah suggested we write March Haiku. I’ve always felt that writing poetry was beyond my grasp, something that only specially gifted people could do, but this seemed doable, and I’ve had fun trying to put my impressions into brief lines of syllables. Each haiku captures a moment in time during this past month. I smile inside as I reread my poems and am taken back to the look and feel and sound of when I wrote them.

What I really like is that this is one more example of how I’m feeling freed to try new things, not worrying that it’s no good or that people will disapprove. I’m realizing that the process of learning to write is valid, just as I’ve found that the process of learning to paint is valid. And I suppose that’s just like the fact that the process of growing up is also valid; not only valid, but necessary. One doesn’t start life as an adult, and childhood is not inferior. Being a child is a important prerequisite to becoming an adult. And THAT gives me much to ponder…

March Haiku

moths flutter to light
swamps resound with frog love songs
life stirs and springs forth

chased by raucous jays
the red-tailed hawk builds a nest
preparing for young

squirrels flit and jump
from branch to branch overhead
chasing and playing

cat stalks mourning dove
crouching still, whiskers twitching
birds erupt skyward

leaf by leaf it dies
the pretty Christmas orchid
while native plants thrive

first red-wing of spring
alights on tall grass and sings
declaring it his

late flurries frolic
briefly airborne, reveling,
destined to melt soon

morning dew shimmers
bird chorus proclaims spring joy
March leaves like a lamb