Sunday, October 11, 2020

Life-Sized Leaf: Nature Journaling Week 9


How are you doing? I find myself wondering if I’m doing enough or too much. Worrying too much or too little. Supporting myself too much or too little.

What really is life-sized: really there in proper size and scope.

The fall weather was AMAZING this week. Today, it’s overcast and cooler. I’m glad I’m inside with my bathrobe and coffee, reflecting on what I did yesterday.

I got up super early and watched BTS’s Map of the Soul ON:E concert first thing. That was beyond life-sized and so incredibly fun. Huge sets, big numbers, elaborate costuming, and amazing performances left me in awe with cheeks sore from smiling and gaping for 2 1/2 hours. By the time it was over, the sun had risen and the house was stirring with Saturday’s regular living. In the afternoon I set off to Fox River Park for a tree-bathing walk.

I wanted to soak in the forest tub for a while so I picked a fallen leaf off the trail and sat upon a fallen trunk trailside to journal.

American toad 

Basswood leaf: topside

Basswood leaf: underside

I became aware of more and more things as I sat: physical sensations of the log and ground beneath my feet, aural input of squirrels and nuthatches, and smells of the woods. People and their pets walked by and I enjoyed short conversations outside my normal circle.

The act of trying to replicate a physical item drew me in. As you can see here, I only used pencil in the sketching, using words to describe what I was seeing. I photographed both the top and bottom of the leaf for additional reference. I felt very content by the time I was done. I had witnessed as best I could. I left the leaf that I spent 20 minutes within the place where I had found it. It will be able to continue its life-size existence.

I added the color this morning. That was another layer of noticing and recording. “Life-sized” should honor everything about the subject: colors, damage, and textures that truly exist. Yes, I must decide how to depict them, but my first responsibility is to bring into myself what REALLY is there.

What really is there. Sometimes we downplay our own influence- we make ourselves out to be less than our life-sized selves. Others do the opposite. Seeing and feeling that life-sized self is important.

I was reminded of that when I looked up information on Seek about my leaf’s origin. It was from a basswood tree. Basswood trees are native to North American forests and play vital roles in a host of species’ survival. The flowers provide nectar as food to insects. The seeds provide food for chipmunks, squirrels, and mice. The leaves are important food sources for caterpillars. By the looks of my leaf, it had fed quite a few organisms. The dark spots were probably a type of mold- another organism relying on it. The tree which formed this leaf has widespread connections and benefits to the forest it both helps create and exists within.

We humans do the same: we can have a big impact. I’m left considering that further.

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