Shed Antler

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The bleached antler here, shed years ago by a black-tailed buck, was already white when I chanced upon it, and has remained so on a shelf in the barn. Though deer traffic is heavy through our woods, this is the only specimen I’ve found, and thus a rarity. Handling it again today, I was reminded of the diversity of natural structures that we take for granted, or that go unnoticed, in our short time among them.

Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet. —Roger Miller


Madrone Leaves

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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