Sorry for the delay on the drawing, folks! It will be held today, December 2, at noon PST!
Last weekend the east winds tore across Oregon, funneling and tumbling through the Columbia River Gorge, to roil into the northern Willamette Valley with a powerful ferocity, just one in a series of windstorms that have blown winter into Portland over the past several weeks. The golden and auburn freckled leaves which may have clung to their branches, lingering a bit in fairer fall weather, have been flung far and wide across the city's streets and backyards.
It feels like winter. We smelled snow in the air last week, and in some spots wet flakes fell. In some other spots ice sheeted across roads and the city grew quiet for a day. A rare, rare thing for Portland this early in the season. I take myself across the river to Forest Park a few times a week to observe the way the mud changes through freezing and thawing. To listen for the Pileated Woodpecker. To see the changing of the landscape as new vistas - city sky over rail yards, Mt. St. Helens and her foothills, the impression of the shape of the lakes that once covered North Portland - are revealed through bare trees, trees choked with green in the spring and summer, now skinny and tall and bare.
I also take myself across the road to the park that spreads out over several city blocks just a half a street from my front door. It's a beautiful forested park with hilly trails I run on a regular basis. In the northwest corner lies one of the largest Sequoia groves within a city park. Downhill and to the southeast is a row of Pacific Madrone spreading along a low bottom, which leads to a forest of Big Leaf Maple and Western Red Cedar. (I love the Western Red Cedar!) Across the park are the elms and maples that turn successively in the fall into a mass of dark and light, green and gold. To walk this park is to travel through a myriad of little ecologies, all within 75 acres at the edge of the city. Mycena and aminita spore under certain trees, ferns under others, and blackberry tangles its way along the border areas.
During the windstorms that began in mid-October and have persisted weekly ever since, the cedar and the fir in the park lost many, many branches. Tufts of evergreen boughs poke up all across the park grounds. For years now it's been my habit to wander over after any particularly stormy session to collect a few fallen boughs for winter decorating. (Did I mention I love the Red Cedar?)
This year I decided to try something else - I wanted to print with my cedar deadfall. I take inspiration from my landscape, and much of my work is about place, but it's rare that I take from the landscape to directly incorporate into my work; but it's something I thought could wend its way into my play.
So I spent a lovely, slow Sunday morning clipping bits of evergreen into manageable clusters, wrangling them together to create a serviceable printing plate, and then holding my breath while inking up the press and running the first few sheets through.
The result is, I think, subtly beautiful, and wonderful for use as gift wrap or decorative paper. The sheets measure 12" x 18", and are printed in Evergreen Green on very lightweight kraft paper. The paper even smells very faintly of crushed cedar, how's that for scratch-and-sniff printing?
And now for the good part: The Great Thanksgiving Giftwrap Giveaway! I'm going to give away a set of five sheets of Western Red Cedar gift wrapping paper to three randomly drawn commenters on this post, simply to say thank you for being here. Entering the drawing is as easy as posting a comment below. Any old comment will do. Tell me what you love about fall, or the place where you live, or just say hello, I was here!
I will be doing the drawing on December 1st, so please be sure to provide some way for me to get in touch with you if I draw your name.
I can't wait to hear from you!