How a simple photo series to chronicle the year became a metaphor for the creative process.

The idea started with a back-lit image of a Japanese maple tree canopy glowing with fall colors in September, 2017. We decided to visit this tree every few months to capture the colors of the season and a year of budding, blooming, rising and falling. If I could stand in the same place each visit, I could document the tree’s stage at each season.

Our second visit in early winter went as planned, although the leaves hadn’t completely fallen, creating a ragged look. That’s ok, winter in the Pacific Northwest is a little ragged.

The third visit came in early March, rainy, but not too cold. We walked around the park and then to our favorite tree. I went to the same place I had stood before but was confused because I couldn’t quite get the same view point. Maddeningly there were orange hazard cones in the distance beyond the tree. The trail was muddy. Not as picturesque as I remembered and the scene just looked weird. I went back to the tree several times searching for the right angle.


I finally gave up, puzzled, and walked around to another part of the park.


Pacific Northwest forests are still gorgeous on grey rainy days. Evergreens catch raindrops in beautiful patterns and berries glisten. Branch structures are revealed. And Brio always adds comic relief. 

The park offered plenty to look at but I was still trying to figure out why I couldn’t take the photo of my maple tree in the same place, the same way. I returned to the tree from another direction and happened to look up.

Ohh! An enormous maple tree had shattered on the hill above my little tree. Thick branches were piled up and hidden behind nearby shrubbery. Then I remembered the big wind storm a few weeks before and the news stories about trees down and power out.

Now I could see that the pathway around the tree had recently been rebuilt; that’s why the mud and orange cones had appeared to mark the repair work.



I had missed the forest for the tree.

Lessons relearned:

Coming up with the idea is easy; execution is difficult and time-consuming.

Best laid plans are subject to change. Much is out of your control.

Change happens slowly and predictably. Also suddenly, unpredictably, jarringly.

Focus on what’s in front of you but get up to stretch. Look up and out to the horizon.
Pick a direction, take the first steps, and be open to the pivot. What’s around the bend may lead to the answer.
Creativity and innovation happen at the intersection of change and uncertainty. Fresh perspectives spark new ideas.
Onward to the new year.

Here’s to a wonderful 2019 full of exploration and discovery.
Wishing you all the best on your journey.

With gratitude for all you do,

Pascha, David and the Vertetudecrats

© 2019 Vertetude, LLC

Would you like to see our New Year Projects from 2013 – 2019? Click the button to the right.  ->

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