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woods

Poem for Today: Like a Tree

Cathedral of Trees
Cathedral of Trees

Cathedral of Trees

I think of the trees around me as I think of my friends, those constant presences that are more a part of us than we know. Perhaps they have no chance but to stand where they are, but they learn to bend and stretch and live as full a life as possible intermingled with all that lives around them.

“…stand in peace and harmony with my neighbors,…bring shelter and comfort to others indiscriminately,…” Years ago I was inspired by the simple existence of the trees around me to write a poem in honor of the way they grew and lived intermingled with all that grew around them because they had no choice. Perhaps that thought is what I have to add to today’s discussion about violence and fear and immigrants and learning to live in peace on this planet.

Like a Tree

To live my life like a tree,
to grow steadily from small beginnings,
fervently when possible, and quietly adapt when necessary,
stand in peace and harmony with my neighbors,
bear my fruit appropriately,
bring shelter and comfort to others indiscriminately,
and when my season is over
graciously give my gift to the earth
for the benefit of myself and all around me,
and without fear
patiently wait for my moment to return
in spring.

poem © 2000 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Here in Western Pennsylvania with our miles and miles of tree-covered hills it’s as if someone is air brushing the landscape, and as the leaves spread and grow the hills, which had before seemed flat now take shape and dimension. Because I am compelled to photograph and paint these colors I run here and there when the morning sun catches the trees, or the purple clouds of an afternoon storm gather behind the brilliant lime of the tree tops, or the evening sun shines, angled, through a grove of trees.

Because I paint Western Pennsylvania, nearly every one of my landscape paintings contains a tree, usually more than one, and often the trees themselves are the subjects. I have gigabytes of photos of trees, just for the trees’ sake, not to mention ones where the trees are the supporting cast. The other day I ran an errand entirely on winding back roads so that I could drive 10 miles per hour and photograph the beauty unfolding at every turn, even if they weren’t particularly good photos; the change had come so quickly that I was completely distracted and it was either that or have someone drive me or I’d wreck my car.

pastel sketch of tree

“From the Ground Up”, pastel on multi-media paper, 6.5″ x 9.5″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I have looked at this tree every day I’ve lived in this house, but one morning last year I followed my little black cat Mimi into my neighbor’s yard, just across the fence line, no fence, from our yard, and looked up at the tall maple tree from a different angle. What a great view, all those colors and shapes and little bits of sky, I guess I’ll sketch it, I thought.

pastel painting of woods on back road

“A Bend in the Road”, pastel, 14″ x 22″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Back in early June, on a lovely sunny day just about noon, I was leaving a morning event and on errands traveling the back roads just for fun, knowing this narrow back road had some wonderful spots. The trees had finally reached full cover in the woods and all along the trails and I simply could not get enough.

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You can find the painting above and all my paintings of trees, originals or prints, on my website in Landscapes and My Home Town, and in my Etsy shop.

Read the rest of the poetry from my first ever poetry reading and art show at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, in 2007 entitled Paths I Have Walked.

poetry book

Paths I Have Walked, collected poems.

About Art of the Watershed and the Collected Poems

A series of seasonal images of the Lower Chartiers Watershed

“I have travelled a good deal in Concord,” said Henry David Thoreau in Walden, his paradox of exploring a small town and its surroundings teaching him as much about human life and the interactions of nature as if he had traveled rare and exotic places about the globe.

I’d love to paint faraway exotic places, but in the interests of time I stay close to home for my hiking, bicycling, canoeing, walking and painting excursions, that being the valley where the Lower Chartiers Creek flows.

I’ve seen some exquisite sights on my adventures, and committed them to various media. The most moving are the ones I’ve chosen to paint large and in detail so that I might convey at least a portion of the grandeur that moved me beyond awe to action, sharing the places right around us though most people would never see them. Thus was born the series offering an image indicative of the watershed in each season.

About the books and the poetry readings

My biggest inspiration for poetry, prose and artwork is the world right around me, and I enjoy the opportunity to share it from the perspective of one who walks and hikes and bikes and carries a camera, art materials and journal everywhere—even around the house—so the inspirations are fresh.

In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I was astonished to fi nd my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers.

My poetry readings and art exhibits were the vision of Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two poems. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me. Each year I am invited back to read my poetry and exhibit my artwork. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.

And visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.

Visit my website to see the full set of paintings included in the “Art of the Watershed” series.

~~~~~

Shared on Inspire Me Monday

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Rise and Fall

Rise and Fall
Rise and Fall

Rise and Fall

Another photo from the trail yesterday, how that road goes up and down and from deep shade to bright sun. I’ve ridden it on my bike many times and it’s very fun, but it’s also a beautiful walk. The colors just suddenly flared this weekend, just when it seemed we might not have much color at all for rain and then extreme heat.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


A Walk in Autumn

A welcoming autumn trail.
A welcoming autumn trail.

A welcoming autumn trail.

I’ve been experimenting with my smartphone, trying to get the best photos from it, but it’s just not the same as my DSLR and an autumn walk clearly reminds me of that. I went out to a trail today to photograph two dogs who will be subjects of a commissioned pet portrait and we all had a good walk on the trail. I have more photos than I know what to do with, and I think I just like this camera better!

Above is a particularly lovely section of this trail, which had once been a road through a farm, then later paved for traffic, then the entire old farm made into a county park. This road didn’t receive too much vehicular traffic (except by me and a few others who enjoyed it), so at one point it was blocked off and a system of trails using the road, narrowed and repaved, and trails through the woods was set up. The sky in the photo below was not filtered by anything, only on a day with this much color is the sky this intense blue.

Another section of the trail.

Another section of the trail.

A little stream runs down the ravine and I couldn’t keep from finding the tiny waterfall. When I have more time I’ll work my way down to the stream and take a few other photos.

Sweet little waterfall in the shadows.

Sweet little waterfall in the shadows.

Another view of the waterfall, with the light on the stream above it.

Another view of the waterfall, with the light on the stream above it.

The colors of autumn were everywhere, in white and purple asters and yellow goldenrod, red and orange leaves and blue sky.

Yellow goldenrod with red and orange leaves and blue sky, what a lovely combination.

Yellow goldenrod with red and orange leaves and blue sky, what a lovely combination.

Purple asters at the edge of the woods with just a touch of pink smartweed.

Purple asters at the edge of the woods with just a touch of pink smartweed.

Many-flowered Asters blooming.

Many-flowered Asters blooming.

Here is my favorite photo of the dogs, Madison and Apollo, though it’s out of focus. Too bad I moved just a tiny bit and the camera refocused on the background instead of Apollo.

My favorite photo, too bad it's not focused.

My favorite photo, too bad it’s not focused.

Here’s another photo of the two.

Madison and Apollo were happy no matter what.

Madison and Apollo were happy no matter what.

Much of what we walked on was waste coal from long ago deep and strip mines.

The landscape is largely heaps of coal from the overburden from stripmining.

The landscape is largely heaps of coal from the overburden from strip mining.

The park was established on donated farmland that had been strip mined and the soil had nothing for growing. While Western Pennsylvania is known for its hills, most of these rises and ravines were formed by waste from coal mining, known as overburden, gob piles and a whole lot of other names. Left on its own it will eventually host hardy maples and a few other species that can grow in the acid soil that collects between the pieces of coal, but for the most part nothing else will grow there. But if you know what to look for, you can see by the shape and texture of the landscape, and the lack of undergrowth typical of the woods, what is soil and what is coal waste.

These slopes are made from gob piles, or heaps of coal waste from strip mining.

These slopes are made from gob piles, or heaps of coal waste from strip mining.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


On An Adventure

On An Adventure
On An Adventure

On An Adventure

“Every day should be an adventure. Mimi and I explored a small section of the neighbor’s yard.”

I posted this on Facebook this morning, and decided it needed its own post rather than added into another. I like the composition right away, Mimi walking through a passage or sorts; I had posted one like this earlier this year as well. I love those two trees, the one with the “toes” is a maple and the other is a tulip poplar, each at least 70 feet tall, and I study them all the time, looking at them out my kitchen window and door in all seasons, and sketched and photographed that little scooped opening through the trees. Because they are so tall it’s very shady in my yard, but the neighbor’s yard in the morning is full of sun and the contrast adds to the feel of a passageway. When I saw her heading there I positioned myself to get the angle I wanted, then followed her. Then the first of the colored autumn leaves with the rich green of summer, the rough bark of the trees, the light, and little Mimi going fearlessly into new territory. Well, sort of. She still knows the neighborhood pretty well. Adding the vignette shading around the outside just added to it. I may do something with this at some time.

And some days I just have too many photos and have to post more.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


A Day In the Woods: 2011

Looking Forward
Looking Forward

Looking Forward

One of my favorite photos from a visit by my great niece and nephews a few years ago, “Looking Forward” was included in my exhibit, “Sun Shadow Ice & Snow: Seasons Along the Panhandle Trail 2015“.

I enjoyed this day so much, and this photo has become one of my favorites of all time for so many reasons: the literal and metaphorical meanings behind my great-niece standing in shallow water, looking upstream, the ripples rolling out from her, she is growing up; the colors and spatters of sun on the water, and how much she reminded me of myself at that age, going barefoot and carrying my shoes, which I still do as I was standing barefoot in the water behind her with my camera, and the practicality of a bathing suit she can grow into, tied in a knot in the back because it was a little too big for her right then. I have a large print of this in my home to enjoy and wonder how I caught such a moment.

I spent a Sunday afternoon in the woods along the Panhandle Trail with my great-niece and and great-nephew, 9 and 11, just to run around, explore, be outdoors and make up our own activities with whatever was there—paths up and down hills, wildflowers, trees, a stream (Robinson Run), a trail made from an ex-train track (rail-to-trail), and an absolutely perfect day.

And we did. We did everything. I was so happy to have someone to play with, a few sun-warmed black raspberries and muck on our feet. Above is one of my favorite photos for the light, the color, the composition and the memories; that might have been me forty-odd years ago wading in a stream barefoot, carrying my shoes. It’s my great-niece Cassidy, just as fearless as I was then, and we were joined by her brother Kyler. We enjoyed exploring the woods, but we liked being in the water best. They live in Savannah, GA now, 88 degrees “is kind of like what it’s like in the spring,” but their streams happen to have alligators so they can’t go swimming like you can here.

And the rope swing…there is nothing like swinging on a rope swing, even if you don’t go too high it’s just that feeling of freedom, letting go, waving your feet around—the things that usually carry you around are off the ground!

Yes, their great-aunt was right there in the woods and the water and the rope swing with them, who do you think showed the way and was the first in the water and the first on the swing? But I had the camera so there were no photos of me.

The white signature you see will not appear on any prints purchased. I sign each print by hand.

SHIPPING

Shipping within the US is included in all the prices listed. All shipping is via Priority Mail. Prints are shipped flat in a rigid envelope. Canvases are shipped in a box to fit with padding. Since this original is small it is also shipped in a box with extra padding.

FRAMED PRINTS

The photo is matted with Arctic White acid-free mat and a solid wood white frame. Frames may vary in style and finish, but are always about 1″ wide. Framed prints are signed on the photo and on the mat.

Other custom framing options are also available for a special quote. Please ask if you’d like another option.

PHOTO PRINTS

Prints are made on acid-free gloss photo paper using archival digital inks. I usually leave an inch or two of white around the print for easier frame fitting. All prints are countersigned by me.

Larger sizes are available than what I have listed, so please ask if you want a special size.

CANVAS PRINTS

I usually have at least one of the smaller sizes of canvases on hand, but order larger ones as they are ordered here because customers often want a custom size. Smaller canvases are a 3/4″ in depth, Canvases 12 x 16 and larger are 1-1/2” in depth. I set them up so the image runs from edge to edge, then the sides are black or white or sometimes I slip in a color that coordinates with the painting. This canvas is wraps around the sides.

Shipping cost is included.  You can find the photo in my Etsy shop.

……….

Included in Inspire Me Monday on Create With Joy.

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0/If you’d like to be informed about new artwork plus sales and specials before everyone else, please sign up for my Art & Merchandise e-newsletter. In September I’m planning an autumn-themed artwork sale as well as a review of an exhibit from 2008 entitled “My Home Town”, with a few originals as well as many prints still available, and a special set of notecards. “Art & Merchandise” is a separate list from my Creative Cat e-newsletter if you’re already signed up for that one.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.


“Summer Sunset, On the Run”

Summer Sunset, On the Run
Summer Sunset, On the Run

Summer Sunset, On the Run

This image was also one of the very popular photos, and one of my favorites, in “Sun Shadow Ice & Snow: Seasons of the Panhandle Trail 2015” this past weekend.

This photo is “Summer Sunset, On the Run”, standing in Robinson Run late on a hot afternoon to cool my feet and watching the glow of the sun move ever downward through the trees, lighting the leaves with a glow and capturing tiny highlights on the water. It’s the definition of “cool”, and a place I visit at the end of nearly every summer walk to cool down and rest, listen to the trickle, gurgle and rush of the water as it moves down its course past me.

Those circles you see in the bottom left are intentional. They are called “sun flares” and happen when sunlight enters the lens directly and are often a rainbow of colors.

It’s right off the Panhandle Trail in Collier Township, PA, and part of my “Sun Shadow Ice and Snow: Seasons Along the Panhandle Trail” exhibit. It’s so exciting to share some of my favorite places with people who might never otherwise see them.

This photo is 9″ wide x 15″ tall, and is framed in a 1.5″ solid walnut frame with a 1.5″ white mat. Mat and backing are acid free, glass is premium clear. All framing is done by me.

Shipping cost is included.  You can find the photo in my Etsy shop.

. . . . . . .

If you’d like to be informed about new artwork plus sales and specials before everyone else, please sign up for my Art & Merchandise e-newsletter. In September I’m planning an autumn-themed artwork sale as well as a review of an exhibit from 2008 entitled “My Home Town”, with a few originals as well as many prints still available, and a special set of notecards. “Art & Merchandise” is a separate list from my Creative Cat e-newsletter if you’re already signed up for that one.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.

 


“Cathedral of Trees”

Cathedral of Trees
Cathedral of Trees

Cathedral of Trees

This year my exhibit on the Panhandle Trail focused on photographs since so many people had asked about them. This image was one of the very popular ones in “Sun Shadow Ice & Snow: Seasons of the Panhandle Trail 2015”.

This photo is “Cathedral of Trees”, a spot on the floodplain where trees have to reach high out of the valley to capture the sunlight and so grow tall and straight. The trail among the trees and bends through an area where the trees arch over the soft leaf-littered path like an entry way to a magical place.

It’s right off the Panhandle Trail in Collier Township, PA, and part of my “Sun Shadow Ice and Snow: Seasons Along the Panhandle Trail” exhibit. It’s so exciting to share some of my favorite places with people who might never otherwise see them.

This photo is 7″ wide x 17″ tall, and is framed in a wide solid walnut frame with a 1″ green parchment mat. Mat and backing are acid free, glass is premium clear. All framing is done by me.

Shipping cost is included.  You can find the photo in my Etsy shop.

. . . . . . .

If you’d like to be informed about new artwork plus sales and specials before everyone else, please sign up for my Art & Merchandise e-newsletter. In September I’m planning an autumn-themed artwork sale as well as a review of an exhibit from 2008 entitled “My Home Town”, with a few originals as well as many prints still available, and a special set of notecards. “Art & Merchandise” is a separate list from my Creative Cat e-newsletter if you’re already signed up for that one.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.


Poem for Sunday: Wild Apples

Late summer woods.
Late summer woods.

Late summer woods.

Seasons meld from one to another, not at the equinox and solstice but halfway between, in the quiet time when there are no other celebrations, but the sensitive person can feel the change, especially standing in the quiet relentless heat of a backwoods trail in August. I visited the trail on the traditional Celtic cross-quarter Lugnasadh and the Christian Feast of Lammas, when summer gently gives over to autumn, growth turns to ripening, the natural world begins to settle itself in for harvest and rest in the dark of winter, and later that day the sense of change, in the woods and in myself, was still strong with me, and I wrote this poem. It became a symbol and celebration of my own developing changes, my mother’s failing health and ultimate death, and reaching my own half-century mark shortly after, seeing that as my own Lugnasadh.

I also recorded it with a slideshow of images; this is embedded after the text of the poem.

Wild Apples

At a bend in the trail,
The scent of wild apples greets me.
A tree abandoned from an old orchard
Or sprung up on its own from old stock, wild and uncultivated,
Stands trailside,
Heavy with small round burnished apples.
The late summer heat releases their scent,
Sweet and tart, that the world may know they have reached their prime;
The wild perfume of the coming season.

From another tree one single leaf lets go
And falls, papery, dry and curled, slipping through branches
Clattering to the summer-hardened clay of the trail,
Loud in the silent heat of the August afternoon.
Months before,
Winter lost her grip, and, one by one,
The wildflowers of spring began to bloom,
Which, in their turn, faded into the shadows of the dense summer woods.
Now summer is losing her strength,
Autumn is thinning the woods
And bearing her own flowers and fruits,
Changing the palette of the landscape
With bright summer greens turning gold,
Deep rich shadows fading hazy blue.

Soon autumn will blaze along the trail,
And songbirds will move their chorus south.
Already winter has touched my hair,
And the smell of wild apples is in the air.

Poem “Wild Apples” by Bernadette E. Kazmarski © 2007, may not be reproduced in any way without express written permission of the author. Links to this blog are fine.

We notice these changes in ourselves in the great cycle of our own lives. This was the topic of my 2009 poetry reading at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, Change of Season. I have published the collections of poetry from each of the four poetry readings, 2007 through 2010, in a book entitled Paths I Have Walked, which you can purchase on my website. Also visit the writing section of my website to read more poetry and see more art and photos.

Read more poetry here on Today or visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.


poetry book

I’m proud to offer a folio of my poetry

Paths I Have Walked: the poetry and art of Bernadette E. Kazmarski

FROM FOUR ANNUAL POETRY READINGS AT ANDREW CARNEGIE FREE LIBRARY & MUSIC HALL IN CARNEGIE, PA

People who attended one or more of my poetry readings encouraged me to publish some of my poetry in a book from the beginning.

Once I completed my 2010 poetry reading, my fourth featuring the final piece of artwork in the “Art of the Watershed” series, I decided it was time to publish something and it should be those four poetry readings.

Poetry books are not best-sellers; it’s difficult to convince a publisher to risk effort on a beginning poet, and while self-publishing is the best option it’s not inexpensive and once you’ve got the book, someone’s got to market it. Plus, I’m a graphic designer and I designed books for years, and I want things my way.

All of this is a recipe for a little bit of trouble, but I decided the book was well worth the effort so I designed the book myself and had a set printed—no ISBN or anything formal, but it’s a start! I’m really excited to offer it.

Books are 4.25″ x 11″, 40 pages of information and poetry, with glossy covers featuring “Dusk in the Woods” and little thumbnails of all four pieces in “Art of the Watershed”.

$8.00 each plus $2.50 shipping (they are oversized for mailing first class).

You can order one on my poetry page, or in my Marketplace.

About the books and the poetry readings

My biggest inspiration for poetry, prose and artwork is the world right around me, and I enjoy the opportunity to share it from the perspective of one who walks and hikes and bikes and carries a camera, art materials and journal everywhere—even around the house—so the inspirations are fresh.

In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I was astonished to find my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers.

My poetry readings and art exhibits were the vision of Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two poems. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.


Fog at Dawn

Fog at Dawn
Fog at Dawn

Fog at Dawn

A good fog this morning that helped define each of the ridges on the hill opposite me as they moved toward the horizon, here and there rooftops appearing in the greenery.

. . . . . .

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Poem for Arbor Day: Like a Tree

pastel sketch of tree
pastel sketch of tree

“From the Ground Up”, pastel on multi-media paper, 6.5″ x 9.5″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I have looked at this tree every day I’ve lived in this house, bu tone morning last year I followed my little black cat Mimi into my neighbor’s yard, just across the fence line, no fence, from our yard, and looked up at the tall maple tree from a different angle. What a great view, all those colors and shapes and little bits of sky, I guess I’ll sketch it, I thought.

Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday of April in the United States, as trees have been celebrated all over the world in other festivals throughout human history, and we plant trees, care for trees and observe and honor the trees we live with. You can learn more about Arbor Day here.

The coming of green to the bare trees in spring is as exciting to me as the coming of wild reds and yellows in autumn. Tiny tentative sprays of green spread from one tree to the next, each day brings more green, more shades of green to all the trees around me. Even more than bird returning or daffodils and crocuses and forsythia blooming, the return of the leaves is a confirmation of the return of life to me.

Here in Western Pennsylvania with our miles and miles of tree-covered hills it’s as if someone is air brushing the landscape, and as the leaves spread and grow the hills, which had before seemed flat now take shape and dimension. Because I am compelled to photograph and paint these colors I run here and there when the morning sun catches the trees, or the purple clouds of an afternoon storm gather behind the brilliant lime of the tree tops, or the evening sun shines, angled, through a grove of trees.

Because I paint Western Pennsylvania, nearly every one of my landscape paintings contains a tree, usually more than one, and often the trees themselves are the subjects. I have gigabytes of photos of trees, just for the trees’ sake, not to mention ones where the trees are the supporting cast. The other day I ran an errand entirely on winding back roads so that I could drive 10 miles per hour and photograph the beauty unfolding at every turn, even if they weren’t particularly good photos; the change had come so quickly that I was completely distracted and it was either that or have someone drive me or I’d wreck my car.

I think of the trees around me as I think of my friends, those constant presences that are more a part of us than we know. They inspired this poem.

Like a Tree

To live my life like a tree,
to grow steadily from small beginnings,
fervently when possible, and quietly adapt when necessary,
stand in peace and harmony with my neighbors,
bear my fruit appropriately,
bring shelter and comfort to others indiscriminately,
and when my season is over
graciously give my gift to the earth
for the benefit of myself and all around me,
and without fear
patiently wait for my moment to return
in spring.

poem © 2000 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

You can find the painting above and all my paintings of trees, originals or prints, on my website in Landscapes and My Home Town, and in my Etsy shop.

Read the rest of the poetry from my first ever poetry reading and art show at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, in 2007 entitled Paths I Have Walked.

poetry book

Paths I Have Walked, collected poems.

About Art of the Watershed and the Collected Poems

A series of seasonal images of the Lower Chartiers Watershed

“I have travelled a good deal in Concord,” said Henry David Thoreau in Walden, his paradox of exploring a small town and its surroundings teaching him as much about human life and the interactions of nature as if he had traveled rare and exotic places about the globe.

I’d love to paint faraway exotic places, but in the interests of time I stay close to home for my hiking, bicycling, canoeing, walking and painting excursions, that being the valley where the Lower Chartiers Creek flows.

I’ve seen some exquisite sights on my adventures, and committed them to various media. The most moving are the ones I’ve chosen to paint large and in detail so that I might convey at least a portion of the grandeur that moved me beyond awe to action, sharing the places right around us though most people would never see them. Thus was born the series offering an image indicative of the watershed in each season.

About the books and the poetry readings

My biggest inspiration for poetry, prose and artwork is the world right around me, and I enjoy the opportunity to share it from the perspective of one who walks and hikes and bikes and carries a camera, art materials and journal everywhere—even around the house—so the inspirations are fresh.

In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I was astonished to fi nd my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers.

My poetry readings and art exhibits were the vision of Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two poems. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me. Each year I am invited back to read my poetry and exhibit my artwork. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.

And visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.

Visit my website to see the full set of paintings included in the “Art of the Watershed” series.

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