Our second annual My Pet Leaf event took place Thanksgiving weekend at a New Jersey home for seniors with Alzheimer’s. The dozen or so residents who participated were met on arrival by a tableau of seed heads, fallen leaves, dried wasp nests, bark, husks, plumes, etc. — the bounty of local forests and meadows. Together, we spent the first few minutes touching and examining these oddly beautiful botanical specimens, and marveling at their shapes and coloration.

Fall Harvest_004

Through the alchemy of stick-on eyes, brightly colored foam stickers, and (last-but-not-least) our own imaginations, we then created new life forms which were given personal names and studied for their highly idiosyncratic behaviors. Oliver, we learned, had a home in the woods by the beach and really enjoyed meeting and talking with people. The elongated head of another creature was easily mistaken for a tree under which a completely different animal lived.

One thing I loved about the afternoon was the way a particular object would morph from one species to another as participants worked with them, e.g., a mouse turning into a turtle that eventually became a duck.



And like the waterfowl pictured above, it was always fun to see the way different plant elements were combined into a single entity.

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Little Fall Turkey


One woman spent the entire hour completely absorbed in putting this particular construction together. Although it never evolved into a fictional woodland animal, she couldn’t have been more content.