Our first stop after leaving Seattle was Federal Way, a small town near Sea-Tac. I was anxious to find a Madrone tree to draw before we got much farther south. Already the sun shown strongly and the elevation had increased. Madrones grow near the water, so Josh sniffed out a public park in Federal Way that included a beach and I had my choice in Madrone trees. It was a Saturday morning and like any other lake in the US, fishermen lined the banks and drifted in boats on the surface.
Because fishing is such a part of life here they had lessons for children on the long dock. The adults watched their children fish and cheered as vigorously as any other parent at a soccer game. “Hold on, you got him, pull him in – that a girl!” When a child lost a fish there were disappointed gasps as if they had missed a catch or over shot a goal.
We retreated from the action on the lakefront to the trees up the hill. I sat down to draw a Pacific Madrone tree while Josh got to know the local squirrels.
The Pacific Madrone is a very unique tree native to the Northwest. It is midsized, with a reddish orange trunk peeling back to expose smooth orange limbs. The dark green leaves grow in bunches, like petals on a flower, bursting from the ends of long, twisting twigs. Most of the Northwest trees I had seen were tall pines; straight, simple, grand in their fullness and height, symmetrical, and green green green. There is nothing simple or straight about this tree. It is the flamboyant cousin of the Northwest trees. The branches fling themselves out in every direction, up and down, then curving around to go the opposite way.