Down the hill from our house, barely visible in a thick tangle of oak and evergreen trees, a madrone fights for its place in the landscape. Like someone in a crowd elbowing their way to the front, the madrone has made slow progress, but doesn’t give up.
During a wind storm late last year it lost a couple of slender branches, which fell near the edge of Rainbow Valley Road, the graveled expressway that serves our drive. After the year-end holidays we were down at the road, taking a Christmas bow from our address sign, when my wife picked up those branches and brought them up to the house—she’s a sucker for nature’s decorative offerings, with an eye for the better samples.
The branches lay on our deck for a week or so, and after I’d passed them repeatedly on my way to and from our bird feeders, I took a closer look. The leaves were brown and nondescript, befitting the middle of winter, but their undersides were a different story altogether. Such great character! I had to take their pictures.
Today, instead of bringing out camera and lens, I snipped off several leaves and brought them in to my office, where I scanned them on an old Epson flatbed. I left the scanner’s lid up and covered my subjects with a piece of leftover white tissue paper that belongs to our cats, who never tire of holiday wrappings (they’ve got a box for the paper, too).
Each leaf was treated to a digital makeover, although no beauty marks were removed.
“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” —Confucius