Unexpected kaleidoscope of colors

Its fall now and deciduous plants have leaves that turn bright colors before they drop. During this window of time between fresh color and dry brown, they are like jewels dangling from tree limbs and carpeting the ground.

The other day as I was walking from my local cafe back to my car I noticed it–leaves on the ground, But something was different. They were all different colors with varying patterns on them. “Huh?” I thought.

Drops of color here and there, and with each step ahead, another and another. They were everywhere! Colorful- with patches of color and speckles of brown–A rainbow of colors! 🌈

I delighted in the gorgeous feast before my eyes. Squealing inside with childlike joy I glimpsed cafe patrons a few feet away, busy with their noses in their phones not noticing the wonder before us.

I wanted to call out to them and say “Don’t you see this amazing sight?”

But they made no eye contact with me.

I wanted to call out to them and wake them from their technological slumber to see the wonder nature was sprinkling before us. To spark wonder and joy.

No luck.


With a big smile on my face and in my heart, I stooped down to gather a leaf here and there, and eventually shoving handfuls in my pocket until it was bursting with leaves.

I could not wait to get home to nature journal! So I changed my plans for the afternoon and sat outside by the tree and spread my collection on the table.

To see these leaves arranged on my page delighted me so much. I enjoyed holding one at a time in my hand and noticing them.

leaves arranged in color blocks, from yellow to green to red

Just then, a dog approached, sniffed and greeted my dog before the human woman said hello. And then she was surprised to see what I was doing. “Oh My! How gorgeous!” she exclaimed and immediately pulled out her phone to photograph it.

I showed that they are all over the ground. And told her perhaps she can look around when she gets home for leaves in her yard or neighborhood.

After she took her photo, we chit-chatted a bit and she walked away. I wondered. Will she stop and notice leaves? or will this photo become a ghost of a memory, saved as pixels in her phone? Will it ever be looked at, admired or reflected upon…

I wonder….

So back to the leaves!

This is an ordinary tree often seen in landscaping around here. But the leaves were EXTRA-ordinary!

I did contour drawings of a few leaves- noticing the serrated edges, and crinkly ruffled margins.

The stems were reddish, but the leaves varied in color. From solid deep green, to grass green, lime green, muted olive green, pale yellow, golden yellow, orange, bright red and burgundy……Wow!

I decided to put dots of paint for each of the colors I saw- although watercolor doesn’t do it justice- MUCH prettier in person!

At the end of my nature journal session

More on fall color~

Another plant that is turning rainbow colors is poison oak. And in some places it’s already dropped its leaves. I was inspired by all the colors and wrote a List Poem– a type of poem make with a list.

Color spectrum of Poison Oak

Scarlet red like a lady bug

Burgundy like red wine

Spring green, sap green, and deep dark green

Lemon-custard yellow

palest peach sorbet

red-orange and orange-red

deepest dark purple burgundy reminiscent of adzuki beans

transforming between colors and hues,

until they turn caramel brown, and fall

to the earth to become dark brown compost

to rest before being reborn to vibrant green

~Melinda Nakagawa

Now your turn. Do you see colors in your leaves?

Take a few minutes to notice the colors, shapes and patterns. Does it have a smell or texture?

Make notes in your journal.

Maybe even try a List poem yourself with the things you notice about your leaves!

Please let me know how it goes- what do you discover!

You can join me in our community, Spark Circles here.

2 thoughts on “Unexpected kaleidoscope of colors”

  • Melinda, what extraordinary color. The leaves are brilliant and you certainly captured them beautifully! Can’t wait to hear about another nature journaling event that I can attend. I was introduced to NJ when I attended your Elkhorn Sough event which I’m still telling friends about. Thank you so much for keeping this alive. I enjoyed your News article as well.

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