Autumn Leaves and Kitchen Sinks


Well, it’s definitely autumn now, a season when you can turn a corner and have your breath taken away by the color of a bush. I had to stop the car the other day, out on Hannegan Road between Lynden and Bellingham in Whatcom County, Washington, because a maple tree I saw left me stunned. Every single color of fall was represented: green, yellow, gold, orange, red, hints of purple, all those colors set against a blue sky, with sunshine streaming through the bright leaves. I had to pull off the road and get out of the car, I wanted to take a…oh, no, no…no camera?

But I brought a few leaves home and set them in a small vase on the sill above my kitchen sink. Our window faces west, towards the setting sun and a view across town, out to Bellingham Bay and Lummi Island. Here’s what the sky looked like a little later that evening:

I didn’t get a photo of the maple tree, but I did get a photo of those leaves above the kitchen sink, as you can see at the opening of this post.

As I washed the dishes that day, I thought about leaves, about the way light comes through them. Can you see how the pattern of the screen behind the window shows through? I thought about that kind of illumination and transparency.  Thinking about things like that, especially as I scrub out pots and pans, is part of my process as a poet.

Here’s my advice to writers reading my post today: put some autumn leaves on your kitchen window sill. Ignore the diswasher and wash your dishes by hand. I bet after a few plates and bowls, a handful of silverware and a kettle or two, you’ll be thinking about wind, light, color, transparency, and (look at that – the dishes are done !) you’ll be in a writerly mood.

7 responses to “Autumn Leaves and Kitchen Sinks

  1. Lovely! Thank you.

  2. i had no idea that leaves were so transparent. but i guess that’s why a backlit tree looks aflame this time of year.
    good advice, julie! thanks.

    • The better word might be “translucent.” But the wire pattern showing through. – trans (through) parere (appear) – I was really struck by that!

  3. We don’t have many maples here in Denver, but they are now showing off just as you described with those varied colors flashing as I drive the streets. In my new house (of 6 years now) I don’t look out a window at the sink & miss it a lot. Still, I wash the dishes & manage a bit of dreaming! Thanks, Julie!

    • Daydreaming is perfect at a windowless sink. No reality in sight, just warm water, soap suds…the mind (and heart) drift, don’t they. Gad, I love drifting! Thanks for visiting Books Around the Table, Linda.

  4. and the mountain I see outside my kitchen window is frosted with snow, right down to its belly-button. Nancy

  5. I was talking with a potter today who said all the parts of a pot are anthropomorphic – the lip, the shoulder, the belly, the foot. Maybe mountains, too, Nancy!!

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