If I Could Be A Tree

If I could be a tree

I would a willow be

To wave at all I see

And shelter those with me.

***

Or perhaps I’d be an oak

To dangle tire and rope.

In kid-laughter I’d soak

And wear an autumn cloak.

***

But oh a birch to be

In ruffled finery

Graceful limbs so free

A merry dance of three.

-jpe

*********

We personify trees all the time. At least I do…seeing them as beautiful people with personality and history. But couldn’t we tree-ify ourselves? Is that a word? If not, let’s make it one! I like imagining which type of tree I’d like to be and why.

The problem is that I’m hard pressed to land on any one type of tree for long. A month ago I wanted to be an evergreen, tall and enduring through winter’s blast. Last week I wanted to be a cherry tree with explosive fireworks of blossom and color. Yesterday an oak, today a fanciful birch.

These birch trees are fascinating to me. I’m fairly certain that we have River Birches growing in our neighborhood. It puzzled me this week to notice that all of them, with only one exception, had three trunks growing out of one. The exception had two trunks. With a bit of research, I discovered that this is how they are planted…three risomes together in order to keep the height of the tree down a bit. Apparently, left to grow individually, they grow way too tall. Clumping them together, or allowing two other suckers to grow along with the main trunk, helps keep their height under control. But I digress…

Whatever the reason, they look to me like three sisters, or three friends dressed for a party, dancing or laughing together. Their happy coexistence reminds me of the Trinity, of strength in a cord of three strands, of a perfect prime, and the number of children I have.

And how about you? What tree would YOU like to be if you could be a tree? And why is that? I’d love to hear from you and what your tree-ification might be? Well, for today at least!😉💕

P.S. I seem to draw imaginary trees a good bit…like the Yarn Trees and this Steam Tree. It happened as I gazed at my morning coffee and could see the steam rising and curling out of the mug…which got me to thinkin’ that it surely must grow from the bottom, where it is “watered”, or “coffee-ed” and…well, anyway…it’s fun to think about.😃

Noticing

It seems to me that one of the chief benefits of drawing is to allow us to really notice what’s right in front of us. I’ve been walking the sidewalks of our neighborhood, almost daily, for the past 17 years and I discover new things all the time.

There are certainly days when I’m hunkered down, either due to the weather or to so much going on in my head, and I’m speed walking through the circuitous path of cement ribbons. On most days I’m able to look around, to marvel at the seasons changing and all that this evolving miracle brings.

This spring, I’ve noticed the trees more acutely. Drawing does this…particularly when one has narrowed their focus to a certain subject to draw for an entire year, one notices more than usual. Or perhaps it is noticing what one knew to be true but had forgotten one knew it.😂

As Spring blazes through the neighborhood, I cannot help but notice the Cherry trees! Gorgeous, pom-pom shaped blooms hanging from limbs everywhere! I feel as if I’m walking through a fireworks display…explosions of color everywhere, some shooting out in every direction, some swirling in twists and curves (the red buds!) , and others cascading down, as if blooms were tossed up in the air and then fall to the ground. And on windy days…the most delectable kind of snowfall, pale petals floating down, gathering along street edges, begging to be walked through.

By the end of my walk I can scarcely contain myself…it’s as if joy came showering down on me as I walked! I feel refreshed and renewed even in the midst of this strange time. It reminds me of a quote by playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht—

“Everyone chases after happiness, not noticing that happiness is right at their heels.”

This daily practice of drawing, is my way of noticing the happiness that is right under my feet. Whether I’m drawing what I’ve seen on a walk, or something out of my imagination, happiness fills the page in front of me, claps two hands on my face and kisses my cheek, saying, “All will be well!”

I suppose there is a way to notice without drawing. Most of the time I only realize the fullness of what is at my heels as I draw. Something to do with seeing and putting pen to paper. I imagine writers and poets have this sight too, as they craft words to show us what they see.

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I draw primarily so that I myself can see. In sharing with you what I’m seeing at my heels, I hope that you too might sketch a bit in order to really see what happiness may be right there at your feet, despite how upside down the world seems right now. To encourage you in this wondrous practice of daily drawing what is at your feet, consider my ebook of twelve lessons filled with instruction and encouragement! For the price of just a few cups of coffee, you may just stumble upon a new way of seeing beauty in your life!🙏💖

The Space Between


There is a delicious space between one’s head and the page. Sometimes I am not so aware of it as I begin to draw. But several drawings of late have me pondering this place where connections are made, lines speak like words, life informs lines, and vice versa.

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Beaufort Treasures

PaintingBeaufort

I’ve been at my drawing table today reliving wonderful memories from a trip to Beaufort with a friend last week. Though I had only taken my Prismacolor Fine Liner Pens, the memories came leaping to life as I added color just now. I am once again reminded how grateful I am for this sketchbook and for a practice of drawcumenting my life in it. I honestly don’t think I would experience (or remember) even half the beauty of my life without this practice of drawing it, painting it, collaging, recording the everyday and not-so everyday of life.

Getting out of town is not an everyday event for me. Especially to go with a friend, without husband or kids. It was absolutely delightful to go on this lovely jaunt with a fellow artist. Her name is Jennifer also. We painted and knitted the town “red”. Well, maybe not exactly cadmium red, but cerulean, sienna, gamboge and a host of other exquisite colors in yarn and in paint.

JM'sSunroom

Jennifer’s beach house is a sweet cottage near the waterfront in Beaufort. Though the first morning was wet and rainy (which was marvelous for knitting inside in her cozy sunroom drawn above), the rest of the time was spent in glorious sunshine either on the waterfront or at the ocean.

BeaufortInletTrees

This little spot was at the end of a street in Beaufort. The bent trees framed the water’s view. How wonderful it was to sit and be completely ensconced in my surroundings, drinking in the loveliness through the end of my pen.

BeaufortTreasures

At the beach, we walked and walked and picked up treasures. I wanted to be very selective and not return home with too many shells. I selected a few interesting shells (seen in the photo of my drawing table) and then sat to draw the horseshoe crab shell, the smaller crab shell with one eyeball attached, and the sea urchin. These seemed like special treasures, not your everyday finds at a beach.

I cannot share the other drawing I made while in Beaufort. I sat on the waterfront drawing a docked boat with all its many lines, shapes, tiny windows, masts, booms, rolled-up sails, etc. I should’ve snapped a photo of it before giving it to the boat owner. I had no idea he would walk up to us as we were drawing and begin a conversation. He seemed so appreciative of someone actually drawing his boat. There were a few other lovely conversations with passersby as well. You never know what friends you’ll make when you’re out with your sketchbook.

And you’ll never know what treasures you’ll find when you draw your life in a sketchbook.

Trees are for Climbing

There are times, as a mom, you feel as if you’ve been privileged to witness something magical and transformative in your child’s life.  Such was the case last Sunday when Maddie and I ventured out to our neighborhood park.

Over the years, we’ve often gone to the park.  We swing a bit together.  I sit and draw or knit while she plays on the various jungle gym sorts of things at our park.  She is 10 years old now.  Most of the slides-n-such are getting too little for her.  I think that’s why she noticed the tree for the first time.

Perhaps it is also because the tree is now the right size for climbing.  I wish I knew what kind of tree…an apple I think.  She asked for help getting up and at first, she was doubtful she could actually climb the tree at all.  With a little encouragement and coaching as to how one climbs a tree, she was soon making her way up and down and all around the tree.  She wore the biggest smile, whispering over and over, “I love this tree…I love climbing trees…what a pretty tree…this is so fun!”  Higher and higher she challenged herself til she reached the point where she could go no further.  Coming down presented some difficulty, mostly in wide-eyed-trembly-fear, not in ability.  Once down, she was up climbing it again and loathe to be told it was dinner time.  She hugged the tree good-bye and asked if we could come every day! We’re headed there as soon as I finish blogging!

It reminded me of another girl of mine who loved climbing trees!  Still does!  My oldest daughter Catherine had the same magical love for climbing trees when she was little.  I pulled out a framed painting I had made of her dated 9/01.  Wow.  Has it really been 11 years?  Catherine would have been almost 7 years old and I remember painting this half-sheet watercolor of her from a photo I took of her climbing in the incredible old Magnolia Tree at Reynolda Gardens in Winston-Salem.  We lived in Winston at the time (only 15 minutes from here), and made excursions to the Gardens on a regular basis.  Catherine and her brother would spend an hour climbing around in the branches of this wonderful tree.

And it reminds me of another little girl who loved climbing trees.  The first house where I lived as a young girl in Boone, NC had two apple trees in it’s front yard.  This house and the large yard surrounding it, remains a magical place in my memories.  Vaulted ceiling in the front living room, with a balcony up the stairs to all the bedrooms, a huge front porch (screened in I believe), apple and plum trees everywhere, an awesome backyard for playing, a monkey swing in the side yard I spent many hours on, and several Christmas trees planted along the other side from each year when my parents purchased a balled Christmas tree!!  Oh how I loved that house!  It was big enough to ride our hoppity hops INSIDE the house!  And there was this gorgeous sun room off the kitchen/eat-in area that was so fun to hang out in.

Well, back to those apple trees.  One “belonged” to me; one to my brother.  We climbed and played in these trees for hours on end, day after day.  All sorts of imagined tales we acted out pretending our trees were: ships, forts, etc.  I do wish my kids had the pleasure of a tree in their own yard they could visit and climb whenever they wanted.  But alas, we live in a suburban neighborhood with nary a tree big enough for climbing.

I have a feeling I’ll be spending more time at the park so Maddie can visit her tree.  Catherine said she wanted to go too! Must take my sketchbook and pens to document the magic!