Painting and Prose by Janet Whittle Freedman


Dogwood Tree

We moved to this condo as spring faded into summer. We chose this as our new home after much searching and we opted for it over newer or more modern homes because of its location and view. The building is 1970’s vintage and in need of some work, but it is set in a city oasis, a 50-acre parklike development with mature trees, shrubbery and flower beds. Our living area’s eight-foot sliding glass doors open onto a canopied deck overlooking a treed lawn and a lake with resident ducks. Close to the deck, a dogwood was near the end of its bloom when we moved in, the ground beneath it scattered with spent blossoms, its branches transitioning to summer’s dark green leaves. As summer progressed, the tree produced red berries that attracted squirrels and its leaves began taking on a red hue as well. From autumn through November many of the leaves remained, their color transitioning from scarlet and chili red to carmine and maroon, still with flecks of green. As winter progresses, the remaining leaves became darker still, in shades of mahogany or rich sangria, sometimes spotted with grey or black until they all eventually fell. I fully appreciate summer’s greenery (as I do my adolescence), but I am drawn to the more interesting autumn leaves, intrigued by the colors and patterns they develop in age. Perhaps we humans are like them, changing, developing, finding new pieces of ourselves as time passes. The dogwood is now bare, but its branches arch upward bearing the buds that will bring bloom and new leaves in spring.


I am a collector of leaves. The photo is from this season passed and includes two red leaves from the dogwood. When I look at the nuances of shape and color in a single leaf, I wonder why we bother creating art at all. Nature so outrageously out does us!