My freezer is full of leaves. Last night I inventoried my stash–low on white oak but tons of sourwood from a downed tree of a friend. Could stand more sweet gum, butterfly bush and sumac–but for now I’m just fine. So far, these are my go-to leaves for printing. Leaves that will probably do something. Or not.
A thought came to me this morning while I was gathering wet white oak–a memory. A memory of years ago gathering red maple leaves with my mother. During her last few years, when she was still able to get out, we would take a drive every Sunday. And in the fall, there was nothing she wanted more than to drive up onto the mountains and either peer down into the New River Gorge or collect ruby-red foliage. It was amazing watching her while she was still able to ambulate–bending over and picking up her treasures–and then when she became too tottery–she’d point with her cane–a cane I found in an old secondhand store–a strong stick probably from rhododendron–with a gnarled handle that fit perfectly into her hand (and my own). I painted it up with an old container I had of interference purple, hot-glued shiny glass beads and stars all over it–stuck a skid proof stopper on its end–and presented it to her one year at Christmas. She loved it.
But back to the leaf gathering. When she was no longer able to stoop, she’d simply point with the cane, pin a leaf down and tell me in no uncertain terms that she wanted “that one.” And “that one–and yes, that one, too.” This could go on for a long time. And I think of this now and wish that after the ten thousandth leaf, I had been more patient. Because really, I was only patient for a while. The leaves were taken home–many of them ironed in between waxed paper and I’m wondering what happened to them. Wondering why I didn’t keep them when we cleared out her house. That’s what I remembered this morning gathering leaves.
So–back to now–Joaquin may be on the way out but it’s still gray, windy and wet. Leaves are coming down like crazy and the poplars, sumac and sourwoods are yellowing and reddening up. Seems kinda late to me–but this is new–this obsession with ecoprinting–so I can’t rely on memory to tell me what last year’s trees were doing. Anyway, last year at this time I had sold my house and was getting ready to move. So I don’t know. But I do know this–I’ve never, ever seen seed pods sprouting “on the vine.”
I was letting the spent blossoms stay on the flowers as long as possible before harvesting them–but look–the marigold seed bundle in the foreground is sprouting–and in the upper right hand corner? Dyer’s coreopsis sprouting before it even hits the ground. Seems strange.
And the palette is changing now with the season. Blue from sourwood. Yellow from sumac turning. Brown from acer. Some times I over-dye but this one will stay as is. It’s beautiful when the light hits the silk.
But now I am going to reprint this a.m.’s scarf. Trusty sourwood pulled an “or not” and simply did not print. Left only a ghostly ever so faint yellow. Kinda like memories.