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Manzanita doesn’t grow on the East Coast, where I grew up. Now when I see it during a hike–which is more often than not–I am delighted. I love the dark red bark, whose traces you can see here in the pink stem of the leaf.

Arctostaphylos manzanita has two common names: “common manzanita” and “whiteleaf manzanita.” I have no idea where the latter one might come from, as the leaves are not at all white even on the underside.


Fun with fall colors

I’ve spent a lot of time on today’s leaf, and want to continue tomorrow before considering it done. So I’ll update then with the actual drawing.

This drawing is notable for being the only one in for months of this practice for which I used the photo in the field guide as my model. When I got on this plan, I imagined I would use the field guide most of the time, but once I got it I realized the photos are too small most of the time. I can’t draw a lot of detail because I can’t see a lot of detail. With this tree, though, I just loved the silhouette. That was enough.

The common name of Salix sitchensis made me wonder whether there are really willows as far north as Alaska. Yes, they are. The native territory of S. sitchensis runs along the coast from central California to Kodiak Island, AK.

When I’m tired already when I sit down to drawing, I have been trying to take it as a nudge to draw fast. Being looser and less fussy, less focused on tiny details, is a frequent challenge for me. I’m liking the way it is working lately.

People I respect have called me out, and I am sitting with a big, steaming pile of unwanted self-knowledge. I feel deeply disappointed in myself (oh no, I hurt people!), afraid (oh no, people won’t like me!), discouraged (didn’t I do this work already?), angry at myself (why did it take such pointed, public criticism for me to take it to heart?), and potentially joyful (when I’ve climbed to the other side of this heap). And I know it won’t end there. Spiritual growth is hard, painful work.

Blessings and gratitude to those who consider me, and the world we are trying to create, worthy enough of their time that they have told me the problem, when they could easily have rolled their eyes and ignored me (and that choice would be completely legit). And to my spiritual director, anti-racism coach, and others whom I’ll be working with to help me grow my soul and become a better part of the solution, not the problem.

I’m not intending to vaguebook; if you’ve seen my conversations on Facebook over the past several days, you probably know what I’m talking about. I am not being more specific because I don’t want a debate about the details here, I don’t want any pats on the back, and I really really don’t want anyone leaping in to tell me that these people are wrong- – nor, honestly, to tell me more ways I’ve screwed up (though by all means, drop me an e-mail if that’s on your mind). And it’s too new. Maybe one day I will bring what I’ve learned into a sermon, or our White Folks Dismantling White Supremacy group. When I’ve learned it.

And it’s hard to write anything public without being performative and adding insult to injury. I think I am putting this down here so that those I’ve hurt might feel a bit better for knowing that their protests have not gone unheard or unheeded. It would be arrogant to expect that anyone is feeling burdened by my flaws, but just in case: I hope it helps you to know that I am working on them.

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