Photographic Journal: Of Trees and Leaves

Art Project: Leaf 1 (colored pencils)

Leaf1_1Inspired by my Tree Project, I collected fall leaves from miscellaneous trees, dried them, and photographed them to draw them later with colored pencils.  This drawing of a leaf which I found under a tree in front of Charleston’s City Gallery is the first result of my efforts.

Tree Project: Winter Follow-Up

The day before New Year’s Eve I visited my trees again to check on them.  There was a short line at the entrance to Middleton Plantation, where the trees are located.  The day was gorgeous, though freezing cold, and I was ready to get started.  I got restless while waiting in line and took a quick look through my camera at the tree canopy above us.

Tree Project 004_1Before getting to the staple yard, I had to walk past a pond with a surface as clear as a mirror.

Tree Project 016_2_1This pond has one lone resident swan. The swan used to have a friend, but I have not seen it in a long time. I wonder if swans get lonely at times, like humans?

Tree Project 028_2_1Once I made it to the trees, to my surprise, I found the Chinaberry tree still full of berries.  Chinaberry trees attract berry-eating birds, such as mockingbirds, robins, and catbirds.  The ones I discovered in the tree that I am following this year are mocking birds.

Tree Project 066_2_1Ingesting as few as six berries or less can be fatal to humans.

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Birds only get intoxicated of the berries.  However, if they eat too many, it can cause paralysis.  Maybe that’s why this little friend was dwelling under the tree, hoping some birds would drop to the ground?

Tree Project 036_2_1

The Ginkgo tree is completely bare; its fallen leaves are brown and wilted.  Though, the tree’s buds are in ready position, awaiting the ‘go signal’ from the sun.

                           Tree Project 055_2_1    Tree Project 057_2_1

I had to keep my time around the trees short, because of a territorial, sentinel swan goose.  It charged at me a few times until I finally gave up and retreated.

Tree Project 059_2_1On the other side of the fence was a water buffalo looking on, probably amused by my defeat.  Meanwhile, its friend was sunning itself, casting an interesting shadow of its enormous body.

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A mother duck and her ducklings were being kept safe in a cage.  (What happened to baby ducks being born in spring?)  The wire mesh of the cage was rather large and an f-stop of 5.6 would not eliminate it from showing up on my photo of this little duckling.

Tree Project 043_2_1I was lucky enough to chance upon the resident carpenter who sported off hand-woven tassels made by Mrs. Carpenter.

Tree Project 107_2_1 Tree Project 106_2_1

On my way back to the car, I could not resist taking another photo of a gumball.  These fruits of the gumball tree are always attractive looking amid a tangle of twigs and branches.

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I think for now I let the birds finish off the China berries.  Once the days have grown longer and the sun warmer, I will check on the Chinaberry and Ginkgo trees again.

Meanwhile, I have registered with Middleton Plantation for a volunteer orientation session this month.  I may have the opportunity to soon give spinning demonstrations in the staple yard.  It is my secret hope, that they will also let me care for the sheep.

Tree Project: Goethe’s Ginkgo Leaf Poem

Ginkgo Biloba

This tree’s leaf, which here the East
In my garden propagates,
On its secret sense we feast
Such as sages elevates.

Is it but one being single
Which as same itself divides?
Are there two which choose to mingle
So that one each other hides?

As the answer to such question
I have found a sense that’s true:
Is it not my songs’ suggestion
That I’m one and also two?


As I discussed my tree project with my mother, she made me aware of this profound poem.  In a very clever way, Goethe used the Ginkgo leaf as a means to illustrate the human condition: our experience of being separate while in truth we are all one.


(Copy of the original of Goethe’s poem with Ginkgo-leaves pasted on it by Goethe himself. 15, September 1815. Original in Goethe Museum, Düsseldorf, Germany.  Poem from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Poems of the West and East, Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, München, 1979, pp. 108-111)