Have you rescued a leaf today?

It’s always a grand idea to save leaves raked up in the Fall into big piles scattered about your yard. These cast leaves provide important habitat for overwintering birds, small mammals and insects. In the Spring they break down forming compost which helps recharge the soil with nutrients and microbes that fertilize new seedlings and build soil structure.

But what about that lone leaf, now brown and crunchy, alone on the ground? That leaf, once part of a network of thousands that once beautifully graced a massive shade tree growing bravely alongside a busy city street? That leaf, now fallen to a surface covered in concrete or pavement, is skittering about in the late morning breeze searching fruitlessly for an organic resting place.

Full journal page

After leaving our favorite Albuquerque Mexican restaurant the other day, I stepped into the parking lot and noticed a giant sycamore leaf scratching and skidding across the pavement. Seconds later, an incoming car full of hungry customers about to park, was on a collision course with this abandoned leaf! Yikes! Quickly playing out the scene out in my mind, I dashed across the pavement and scooped up this big brown leaf, rescuing it from being smashed into bits and pieces.

Close up sketch of the upper leaf surface, showing the “skirt” over the petiole.

Whew! That was a close call. Naturally this leaf deserved better treatment and a chance to contribute to Earth’s complex web of resources. And that’s what would happen ……. after a few sketches in my journal, of course.

The rescued sycamore leaf before being placed in a compost pile

This big, brown, crunchy sycamore leaf is now a part of one of the various compost piles we keep scattered about our yard. If leaves could feel, I’d like to think she’s so much happier being rescued than the alternative. Would you agree?

The compost pile topped with the rescued sycamore leaf. Home at last!

Have you rescued a leaf today?


  1. How fun – I got a smile reading the bit about you dashing across the pavement to rescue the leaf! What we do for nature! We have a big sycamore tree here at our State Park that I discovered last year at this time as it had big, round, spiky seed balls that fascinated me and I just had to dissect it and found it full of seeds with a whisp of cotton to carry them through the wind! Do I see a hint of snow in your compost pile? Love the squarish black backgrounds framing the elements on your page – very effective!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Karen! Love your comments on my narrative and page layout. I think sycamores are everyway cool, including the seeds. I’ve dissected them before and love how the seeds are arranged inside the pod. Yes! Snow on the compost!


  2. I didn’t know about the skirt, and I don’t see it on the sycamore leaves I picked up last week. Will have to look at more. I’m working on a sycamore tree painting this week– aren’t they great!?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now that is interesting! After inspecting several local sycamore leaves, I began noticing what I’ve called the “skirt.” I like how it seems to cover, demurely, only part of the leaf’s petiole. Can’t wait to see how awesome your sycamore tree painting will be! Thanks Jean for the comments!


  3. goodlifecp says:

    I was in Packwood, WA on a fire assignment last month. A couple of PIOs came in from their trapline with several of the most ginormous fall-colored giant maple leaves I have ever seen. They came from of course, a bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum). The first thing that came to mind; I had wished there was a way I could send some to you and have them arrive intact as I remembered you had drawn zentangles on dried leaves in the past. You would have loved these for sure!


    1. Wow! I would’ve loved to see that leaf. It’s been years since I’ve tangled on a leaf ….. but it would’ve been fun. The packaging and shipping challenge of getting it to me intact would’ve been a nightmare for you! I love the thought. Thanks Cass!


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