Winter Count — November

Holidailies 2005December 28, 2005

WcnovI love trees. One volume of The Silken Tent was called “The Gestures of Trees.” I took the name from the work of Loren Cruden, a naturalist and herbal healer who studies Native American and Celtic spirituality. In The Spirit of Place she writes, “Life moves most gracefully in the gestures of trees — resilient, responsive, unafraid.”

In the summer of 2002 I took a series of lessons at a local art school called “Drawing for Everyone.” Although my primary medium of artistic expression is words, I long to be able to draw, to create with pictures rather than essays. Under the direction of a talented teacher that summer, I made progress. In Massachusetts I bought a little book called Sketchbooking by Barbara Stecher. Although she works in watercolors (even while traveling), I was able to adapt her ideas and techniques to the ink and colored pencils I’m most comfortable with.

Something in me keeps wanting to go back to drawing. On November 4, 2005, I gathered up all the art materials I could find — some very old stuff from 1995, the first time I tried art lessons, the drawings from my classwork in 2002, and the sketchbook I’d carried in New England that summer and continued to use when I came back. The last drawing was labeled “A Tree Grows in Harrisburg,” and was of the tree pictured above. It stands in a corner of the Emerald Street playground, one block north of where I lived from the time I was seven until I was fifteen. The drawing was dated “November 4, 2002.”

I took my camera and drove up to the playground. The weather was similar to that of the day I did the drawing. And the tree looked almost the same. I took a picture of it, seen above, and promised myself that this year I get all those pencils and papers and notebooks and ideas out and try again.

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