Thursday, October 23, 2008

Preserving Moments

A lot of years ago, visiting a friend, I was very interested, okay, I was as excited as a little child, that she had decorated her home with the most beautifully colored, preserved Autumn leaves. It seems that she had a precious Grandmother, living in Boston, who sent her a fresh collection every year! Can you imagine receiving an envelope overflowing with freshly preserved Autumn leaves? How sweet!

Living in California's Central Valley, we're not accustomed to a lot of Fall color. Our climate is too temperate, our trees, well, suffice it to say that tourists aren't making treks here to view the Fall Colors. Spring blossoms in our agricultural community, now that's another thing, altogether!

My friend (Jacqueline) explained to me that her Grandmother had ironed the leaves between sheets of waxed paper to preserve them. . . for the season at least, I suppose.

Yesterday, while enjoying an article about decorating with Autumn leaves in my November issue of Country Living Magazine, I recalled that visit from so many years ago. I haven't seen Jacqueline in years, she married and moved away, I miss those visits. But. . . anyway, her Grandmother must have been a kindred spirit ~ she collected beautiful leaves~ preserved them, and then she mailed them across the country to her beloved Granddaughter, so that Jacqueline might enjoy Boston's Autumn Bounty. I just can't get over that. It is so precious, and sweet. . . . . so thoughtful and gentle. Do you know what I mean? I have been thinking about this for years since that day at Jacqueline's house and wanting to do it, preserve the leaves. It's a simple enough idea, but you know how we forget sometimes to do those little things that aren't important at all, but after we do them, it seems that they were awfully important after all for all the pleasure they bring. I'm pretty sure that I'm on a mission to bring those things back into my life. I have gotten to be rather practical, and those who know me, know that isn't me at all!

. . . so I closed my magazine, gathered supplies, and drove to the river where I thought I would have the best chance of collecting beautifully colored leaves. I packed Grandma's antique picnic basket and a camera. I hiked along the river for about a mile or so. As I walked, I collected bits and scraps...beautiful leaves, acorns for the boys, and especially lots of acorn caps . . .and a feather or two. (I can't help myself!) There weren't a lot of leaves on the ground yet, I suppose it's too early, but I managed to fill the basket with green and gold oak leaves, yellow cottonwood leaves, and the most beautiful red wild grape leaves. I want to pick up more of those, they preserved so beautifully!

That evening, while searching for instructions for this type of preservation, I pressed the leaves in a sketch book lest they dry and crumple up overnight. I felt really good about this. I stopped at the grocery on my way home, and bought two children's sketch pads, for this use. The paper was somewhat similar to blotter paper that would be used for flower or leaf pressing, and it was very available, and even inexpensive! And it worked. . .besides that it pre-pressed the leaves for me, the paper wicked a lot of the moisture from them. . . . maybe this should be considered an integral part of the process. . . hmmm.

Most of the instructions that I was able to find, meant for the leaves to stay between the sheets of waxed paper, a common children's craft. Do you remember when we made construction paper frames for these little masterpieces and proudly carried them home to Mother? She would hang them in the window at Thanksgiving. (long pause, while I take a moment to become a child again, and smell them Autumn on my way home from school. . . and picture the artworks hung in the front picture window. . .sigh. . .)

I hoped to preserve individual leaves for, well, for whatever use I pleased! So I undertook to figure out how it was done. Tomorrow I hope to post pictures and instructions of the process. Then, maybe later in the week, I can show you what I have done with them. I am very happy with the outcome!

Right now, I'm off to take a walk along the river. It will be my third day in a row. It is so lovely, and it smells so nice, and there are no dogs barking at me through the fences, a few birds complaining, maybe, as I invade their territory and maybe they'll accept me as a guest after a few more days. We will have Winter weather soon enough, so I want to take my walks while the weather is pleasant and mild. . . .and I can enjoy this very, very pleasant tranquility that I have found. . . for a few more days.


  1. I'm getting preeettty jealous over here. I'm crossing my fingers for a day when I'll feel well enough to leave my house again! :)

  2. this makes me want to call my grand-parents and ask them to send me some red, orange, and yellow leaves to decorate my house with!! Autumn always makes me a little homesick for washington and canada. we should make a date to go out to the river as a whole family!