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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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