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Central Mexico was amazing, mysterious and full of unexpected beauty. We arrived home at midweek, a little travelworn but filled with inspiration and fresh memories… and already contemplating a return trip next September to conduct a botanical drawing workshop. The colored pencil sketch above was made in the courtyard of Casa de la Cuesta, where we stayed in San Miguel de Allende. Our host, Bill, is an expert on ceremonial masks. These nine expressive fellows — framed within an old drawer from a rustic piece of Spanish furniture — are part of Bill’s collection of 500.

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One of the best parts of the journey, for me, was the constant profusion of unfamiliar plant life. So many new flowers to identify! So many new forms to draw! We were fortunate to arrive at the end of the rainy season, when the mountainsides are alive with blooming things. Stay tuned for posts on traditional medicinal plants, sketches of Mexico’s dazzling wildflower palette and the joys of eating cactus.

Meanwhile… Thursday was the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. I was glad that my new series of nature drawing classes started on a day of remembrance for a gentle monk with one foot firmly planted in the natural world (it is said that he talked to birds and walked out of his way to avoid injuring earthworms,  both tendencies that would endear this holy man to gardeners everywhere).

And tomorrow is fall planting day! Up early to pull back the straw mulch we put down before we left for Mexico, a little preliminary spading and then a day of putting in broccoli, Siberian kale, shallots and an assortment of salad greens. I’m still hunting for multiplier onions and, in our sultry semitropical climate, it’s still too early to plant snowpeas. But we’re on our way…