While on an evening walk
I saw the Red-Tailed Hawk
return to the tree
where it often perches.
It was the golden hour,
the sun’s light
casting the tree in rosy hue.
I took a photo
which shows the beauty
of the moment.


Later, I tried to sketch the tree
and apply some rosy watercolor.
It’s an amateurish attempt,
me having made my first attempts
at sketching nature
only two days before.

The next day,
I was driving to town
and as I looked out across the landscape,
a winter-bare tree caught my eye
and suddenly I experienced something
I’d never felt before
upon seeing a stranger of a tree:
a familiarity,
as if I’d just seen a good friend.

When Jeanne Finley spent the day
teaching us how to sketch,
she ended the day
by telling us
that the most important thing
was not how the sketch looked,
but that the sketching
helped us look.
Above all,
she emphasized,
sketching nature is a spiritual practice.
And in that moment
when I saw a tree similar
to the one I had sketched,
I knew what she meant;
I realized that getting to know
the Red-tailed Hawk’s Home Tree
well enough to sketch it,
even a rudimentary sketch,
had connected me to that tree
enough
so that when I saw another tree
similar to it,
my soul connected.
Thank you, Jeanne.