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Friday, August 19, 2011

Madrone trees and shiny beetles

Have you ever visited a nearby spot and discovered something major you've never even heard of? For instance, the first time I traveled through the South I was amazed to see the miles-wide blankets of kudzu draped over the trees like green quilts. I'd never even HEARD of kudzu before.

A similar thing happened to me when I moved to southern Oregon. I'd previously lived in various parts of Oregon: Hood River (on the northern edge by the Columbia River), Corvallis (west-central Oregon) and Eugene a bare 120 miles north of my place) and I'd neither seen nor heard of the magnificent red-barked madrone trees with their green skin which tans just like human skin during the hot days of summer.

Since my house is nestled deep in a madrone forest, madrones are now a major part of my scenery, and I thought I'd share their fascinating beauty with you, writing from my sit spot underneath and beside their glamorous trunks and branches (to say nothing of the midsummer leaf fall now descending in glorious golden cascades).

There's an actual piece of bark glued to this journal page because their color is so obviously impossible I thought I'd better prove it. But as you can see, I didn't even go as far as reality in my painting. The bark comes in many shades, though, so the color I chose is accurate for many of the trees.

What about the green? It's true! The skin is really that green on many of them at this time of year, while others have a more subdued tone, and all of them tan with age until they're the deep orange or red of the peeling parts ~ the red bark is LAST year's green skin.

And then, of course, I discovered some little black beetles so shiny that when I looked at them through my magnifying glass I could see my reflection looking back at me from their polished black backs!

I hope you like this journal page. There are lots more to come, including a journal page about my invention of a mosquito net contraption that's easy to make and could allow you to sit on your lawn or deck in the worst of mosquito times ~ without slathering on stinky insect repellent.

Stay tuned.


winna said...

Just letting you know I most certainly did enjoy this page on trees I've never heard of before---as I read it I thought at one point--eyewwww (Sp?)---she had to pick up of of those tiney beetles to see the red stripes underneath---gave me the shivers as I am super
sensitive just to the THOUGHT of it...anyway--wondeful explaining and sketches and the mosquito thing is something I'd need to be encased in probably...we'll see....winna

Cathy Holtom said...

Your sketches and words describe everything so well!

Anonymous said...

What wonderful pages, Irene! I love the oranges and greens of that bark together. I've learnt something new, as I'd never heard to madrone trees before - thank you.

Janene said...

We have Madrone trees here in Portland, but I didn't realize that they have green "skin" that tans. I'll have to observe them more closely. I really enjoyed your description and sketches too. Even the bugs were interesting!

Irene Brady said...

Yes, they are interesting trees to watch throughout the year (which can't be said of all trees), since they change both leaves and bark, plus leaf and bark color. And I love their wiry, graceful growth patterns. The scientific name is Arbutus menziesii, and it grows 60' to 100' tall. A BIG tree.

Irene Brady said...

BTW, Janene, if you want to see the green bark, be sure to check it out before the weather gets too hot. The bark curls away pretty quickly when the summer heats up, and it starts to tan within a couple of days.

Clare said...

I thoroughly enjoyed your story and sketches. Beautiful!

Mary McAndrew said...

Hi Irene! So glad to catch your post, I loved the beetle description and was surprised that they had two red stripes underneath! I don't think they're in my Eastern Bug guide.
The bark study is wonderful too, what a great subject. I hope I get to see your post about the mosquitoe net, I need it!
I put my email in your subscribe box but I don't know if it worked, I've tried to subscribe before but haven't been getting your posts, is there a way you could check it for me?

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