Something leguminous

Last week our local plein aire group met at a house with a view of the beach meadows, Icy Passage, and Pleasant Island. I usually try to do some landscape sketching during these outings because that’s a subject I otherwise avoid, but that day I was just more interested in the close-up world.

Kantákw—Nootka lupine—caught my attention first. They’re abundant out in the uplift meadows: big billowing masses of leaves, topped at this time of year with a second flush of purple/blue/white blossoms, and freckled with seed pods drying and browning as they mature. Nearby, beach pea plants sprawl among the mosses and climb ryegrass stems; their pods too are heading toward ripeness. I decided to spend some time observing and comparing these two fabaceous neighbors.

Lingít plant names are from Tlingit Dictionary, edited by X’unei Lance Twitchell. Gunalchéesh for this wonderful resource.

Spring buds, day 1

Drizzly and cold here lately but the plants know spring’s coming. I brought branches of three shrubs inside, to watch their little packages of potential unfold. Today’s day 1.

As usual, willows are among the first to start to open. But the serviceberry is also surprisingly bold. Both have early leaves and flowers that are protected by furry coats, so the risk is probably a little less for them than for, say, a spruce. Cottonwood’s buds are packed with aromatic sap, which gives the enclosed leaves some protection, but I haven’t seen any sign that they’re taking the chance yet.

Student Sketches

sketch show sitkaI just got back from a two-week art residency in Sitka, working with Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary students. It was lovely! For the first week, I worked exclusively with the 4th graders, teaching basic observation and drawing skills; my goal was to get the students excited about keeping a “science sketchbook” and confident in drawing from observation. They drew feathers, skulls, shells, seed pods, and more, and took notes about their observations, their ideas, and their questions.

During the second week the school hosted its annual Project Fair, a chance for students to share their studies in a science fair-like setting. As part of the fair, we set up a table showcasing the drawings from the 4th grade classes. It was really satisfying to see all of that careful observation and learning arrayed together. This photo shows a section of the sketch show; my big example sketches are up on the wall, and the student books are below on the table. Each student chose his or her favorite sketch to show.

Thanks to Keet Gooshi Heen teachers and staff–especially science teacher Rebecca Himschoot, and thanks to the Sitka Fine Arts Camp–especially Program Director Kenley Jackson.