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.
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.
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.
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?
Our Smoke Tree is always one of the last to drop its leaves. While this tree tenaciously clings to its thousands of food makers, the leaves go through many stages of decay. Some remain purple-green but are polka-dotted with rusty red spots. Some more quickly change to brilliant yellow-orange with rusty splatters. Some display hints of green-brown and it’s these leaves that show the most insect spotting and damage.
One day, probably soon, the tree will get tired of the display, and just before a heavy frost or wet snow, it will stand bare with piles of multi-colored leaves lying on the ground, having dropped in one big fall.
Here’s a page from my perpetual journal that I created yesterday from a few leaves plucked from this pretty Smoke Tree.
Enjoy your seasonal changes wherever you may live!
So much rain! Not complaining ….. we need the moisture. But with days of drenching rain falling in the East Mountains and the Sandias this entire week, summer seemed to flip into Autumn in a matter of days.
Trying to capture the last remnants of fading flowers, I was inspired by a remarkable naturalist and artist, Jean Mackay, to get out there and rescue blooming bits before everything turned brown and crunchy.
Thanks Jean, for the encouragement, and always helpful tips and techniques in creating interesting journal pages. My hike this morning revealed some surprise bloomers that I wanted to remember in my nature journal.
And thanks to my many followers for your continued interest in my discoveries!