Painting in Redwood Country

These paintings are around 10×20″ acrylic sketches I made on a road trip on the Northern California Coast.  I love redwood forests… the way the light filters through the leaves and illuminates fluorescent moss, yellow banana slugs, fractal ferns and the soft red earth.   It is so awesome how these old giants gather rain and make an environment where plants are growing on plants who are growing on other plants…  long after they die their sweetly rotting wood is still pushing up gardens of huckleberries, ferns, mushrooms and mosses.

 

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Poppy Explosion

14×18″ oil on canvas– The California Poppies are taking over the garden in an orange carpet.  As far as herbal medicine goes, they are clearly good for the eyes–  it makes you happy just looking at them.  After finishing the painting we ate that ripe artichoke in the background… yum.

A Sweet Poison Oak Patch

The overcast afternoon under these dark live oaks on the Jesusita trail made the reds in the poison oak just glow.  I have to confess that I’m coming to love this plant.  I think of it like a protector of patches of the landscape where wild creatures can hide from people in hidden glens like this one.   Thinking from this point of view makes the spots on my leg itch a little less.    Casein on Birch Panel 9×12″   Click to BidLatest7Latest6

Guerrilla Gardening

Gardeners of the world unite!
Let’s slip out in the full moonlight
          with seeds in hands
          and watering cans
And garden spades stashed out of sight!
For our first organic plot,
lets sneak into a parking lot
          and plant fruit seeds
          so folks won’t need
To go indoors for apricots.
Street medians we will reclaim,
This public land won’t look the same,
          We’ll line each route
          with herbs and fruit
Overflowing into the lanes.
Three sisters: corn and squash and beans,
Are now sprouting outside Dairy Queen,
          They have no clue,
          that it was you,
And nice touch with those collard greens.
And if we have any luck,
Children will soon learn to pluck
          free string beens,
          climbing the swings,
And extend recess and save a buck.
Once we’ve pulled out all the stops,
Who’ll want those corporate monocrops?
          No genetics here,
          And we’ve got beer-
Once we harvest that creekside hops.
We’ll pry concrete with fig tree roots,
We’ll enlist scrubjays as recruits
          to plant an oak
          at every stroke,
And give new meaning to “grassroots.”
Let’s plant city parks and vacant land,
With a living, humming garden stand,
          Let’s teach the youth
          with food and truth,
That what sustains them is in their hands.
Let “Compost! Compost!” be our cry,
It’s a freedom none can be denied,
          To love the ground,
          and help it rebound,
Gardeners of the world, unite!


			

Cul de Sac

houses
Cul de Sac

Here you see a fifth acre of desert scrub.
A black plastic weed barrier buried under decomposed granite
     with soggy cactus,
     overwatered mesquite, and 
Mojave natives poking their heads 
     through circular holes.
A tall century bloom swarms with hummingbirds.

Next door, you find a formal lot imported from colonial England,
     with gingerbread epoxied to the stucco.
     A trimmed lawn with an ornamental plum
     sprouts bushes and hedges trimmed like lollipops.
A red-brick walkway sways pleasantly to the red front door.

Apparently, a fifth acre chunk of Hawaii has been excavated
     shipped overseas,
     and dropped into the plot next door...
     Plop!
          Bermuda grass, 
          palm trees, 
          ginger flowers and
          trailing bamboo... 
     (the curse of colonial England next door) 
all flank a pink mailbox in a pad of black lava rock.

Down the street, an awkward crispy orange pine tree
     and some ceramic squirrels 
     create the high mountain ambiance of a Swiss glen.  
The Dutch annuals explode along the sidewalk like
     red, yellow, blue and green fireworks
     (miracle-y growing so far from their Nordic relatives)
     with their plastic name and care tags 
sprouting from the salt-and-pepper soil like fuses.

The Hawaiians, Mexicans, English and Swiss
gossip in their driveways, rolling eyes and cursing the house at 
the end of the block, so flagrantly violating the HOA...

Just look at its weedy, unwatered yard going to seed:
     an unpruned wild oak planted by jays,
          dandelions, 
          chickweed, 
          lambs quarters, 
          Red Maids and 
          coastal sage overflowing the mowing strip...
No gardeners here but the wild birds.   
Look at them
     munching wild seeds,
     checking their migration maps, 
     and wondering
“where on earth are we, anyway?”

Nature is a Gardener

Nature is a Gardener

Plants are her purest expression,
      spending their days eating sunlight and
      expelling a dazzling display
          of scents,
          colors
          and flavors.
Gophers are just tools to plow the earth.
Birds and squirrels sow the seeds.
Deer are nice quiet lawnmowers.
Owls, snakes and ladybugs?   Pest control.
Goats do the pruning.
Beavers are merely complex irrigation systems,
      and bees... the hardworking genetic engineers.
Everybody does their share of the fertilizing
      and composting
      at one point or another,
      but other than that, I have to ask,
“What kind of gardening tool am I?”

lawnmower

Advice from my Six-year-old Daughter


“The secret to finding four leaf clovers,” she tells me, “is this-
         If you look for them, they disappear, 
         but if you DON’T look for them,
               they DON’T disappear.”
She should know, she finds them all the time. 
"I’ve been not looking for them my whole life," I tell her.
         “Maybe you haven’t been not looking hard enough.”

“Another way to find them,” she tells me, pitying my misfortune,
         “Is to wait until you feel really lucky-
         like I just did when that moth let me touch her.  
         Then, you KNOW one is nearby and you find it.”
I smile at her, so sincere with sunny freckles, 
         her eyes squinting in the light.

I’m feeling so fortunate 
         there’s no need to bother even looking down
         at the meadow of shamrocks 
         that must be there now,
sprouting between my toes.  
feetbw