Sunday, January 2, 2011

Visiting Cards

or Dropping In

I was sitting on the bench by the kitchen window, staring out the glass door, stumped by a clue in the Saturday New York Times crossword puzzle.  While part of my brain was churning over words and growling at them when they weren't seven letters long with a third letter of M (which didn't exactly encourage other words to show up), another part in the background was absentmindedly tracing the angles of an oak leaf caught between the stepping stones in the walkway, enjoying the contrast with the softer rosettes of dragon's blood sedum, wondering whether the sedum would fill in enough next summer to make it worth while to keep, savoring the combination of earth-brown and rust-red.  At some point, for no particular reason, background shifted to foreground.  I suddenly registered what I was looking at and thought, "But I don't have an oak tree."

It wasn't exactly an earth-shattering revelation—I mean, I've known for a while now that I don't have an oak tree; they're not the kinds of things that just sneak up on you.  But it started my mind on a new puzzle, trying to figure out where this particular leaf had dropped in from.  After taking a mental walk around the neighborhood, I'm pretty sure it came from some new landscaping in the commercial building across the street to the southwest—puzzle solved.

A sycamore leaf amid marguerite daisies
Curious about who else in the arboreal world might have come to call, I started prowling the garden in earnest.  I spotted fallen aspen leaves from the neighbor to the north; cottonwoods from the plaza a little farther away; Siberian elms from just about anywhere (if trees were e-mail, Siberian elms would be the spammers); sycamores from the west; seedpods from the golden rain tree to the northeast; ornamental pear leaves (I think, but I'm not very good with trees) from the neighbor on the east; desert willows from the south.

A couple of ideas struck me:
  1. "Prevailing winds," my foot.
  2. Enjoyment of the whole—"fallen leaves"—takes on an even richer flavor when you're aware of the individual leaves that comprise it, too.
A golden raintree seed pod with more daisy leaves

I'm keenly enjoying these "calling cards" the trees have left in my garden—the soft interplay of colors on the sycamore leaves, like the sheen of oil on water; the living brown and crisp lines of the rain tree's seed pods; the spare, ruffled edging on what we are calling the pear; the contrasts between tree and herb, evergreen and brown, seed and leaf and pebble.

This could very well be an ornamental pear leaf.

I've been blogging for a little over six months now.  Looking back as the New Year begins, I can't quite believe that it's been that long—that this is my 58th post, that I've bypassed 42,000 words.  Those aren't exactly milestones, but still, I didn't believe any of this would happen when I began.  You, my readers, have blown in from all ends of the globe—from Russia, Denmark, Slovenia, China, South Africa, South Korea, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and of course, my own beloved USA.  Amid the swirling winds of cyberspace, you have touched down briefly in my garden and left your visiting cards.  It has been my honor and pleasure to have you here.   Thank you for reading, for commenting, and for sharing in my microcosm.  You have added immeasurably to my enjoyment.

A cottonwood leaf with yarrow and oregano

Happy New Year to you all—may you find joy under every leaf and stone.


  1. Stacy -
    Found myself in great luck to have "blown" into your life through your blog.
    Keep up the posts.
    May this new year bring you peace and happiness...

  2. As I read your words the evening breeze is swirling leaves around my garden. This morning we found a lampshade - now what tree did that blow in from? ;>)

  3. Mark--Thank you. You're always a very welcome visitor here. I'll keep posting until I run out of ideas--fortunately, spring is coming soon!

    Diana--Ah, yes, the rare, exotic South African lampshade trees. :) I had a child's swimming pool blow up in my garden once--one of those moments when you realize it's time to stop weeding and just go inside!