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This is a weeping willow leaf, and its scientific name is Salix babylonica. That has to be a reference to the beginning of Psalm 137, right?: “By the waters of Babylon, we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.”

The willow may weep, but it’s hard to be sad when you’re looking at one, or sitting under it. It’s such a lovely, sheltering tree.

Having gone into such delicate detail with the previous drawing, I tried to do the opposite with the interesting light on this leaf. How quick and rough can the marks be and still get the shadow across? I’m not so good at quick and rough, and immediately started refining. An old story, and not only in visual art.

With Salix exigua, we enter the category of toothed simple leaves!

–I spent a lot of time with this drawing yesterday! We had a terrific four-hour campus vision workshop at UUCPA, and I drew during a lot of it. With all that time, I sank into delicious detail. Will I go back to it and do more? Maybe, maybe not.

One thing is clear: these leaves, which seemed rather bland when I first looked at photos–they were flat, literally–sure seem a world away from flat and bland now.

This is yesterday’s. A lovely habit has developed in which I draw at night, in my room, while my daughter reads to me. By the time the drawing is done and she’s too tired to read any more, I don’t want to disturb the peaceful feeling by getting my phone and taking the picture. So they’ll lag behind.

If I’d known how to identify this tree, I probably would have done so many times during our recent trip to southwestern Utah. It is found there and around the Grand Canyon, as well as central California. My daughter expressed a hope that I would become a mom who can identify lots of trees when we’re out and about. I’m gonna need the field guide…

An invisible singleleaf ash leaf, because I hate the way it came out: stiff and amateurish, to my eye. But I drew. Drawing is good. Process over product.

Isn’t that what Wavyleaf Silktassel sounds like? A resident of the Shire?

It is in fact a large shrub that grows all along the coast of Oregon and California, doing well in serpentine and clay soils. I know far less about geology than I do about botany, which is saying something, and as far as I remember, I never encountered the term “serpentine” until I read Always Coming Home, by Ursula K. Le Guin. The people she writes about, the Kesh–who “might be going to have lived a long, long time from now in Northern California,” as her ethnologist alter ego writes–live in groups named Madrone, Blue Clay, Red Adobe, Yellow Adobe, Obsidian, and Serpentine. Serpentine is a group of igneous minerals; that makes sense, since a lot of California has volcanic soil, which is poor for many plants but great for growing grapes. And wavyleaf silktassel.

As with yesterday’s drawing, I am trying to catch the light. I think this one is more successful.

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