to outsiders minnesota is known for cold winters, lake wobegon, the movie fargo, lake superior, maybe bob dylan. if you live here, you become familiar with lutefisk, bob mould, hotdish, the chilly warmth of “minnesota nice,” and the tradition of “on a stick.” at the minnesota state fair, you can order bacon on a stick, deep fried candy bars on a stick, pizza on a stick, teriyaki ostrich on a stick, cheesecake on a stick, tater tot hotdish on a stick, scotch egg on a stick, and the classic pronto pup on a stick. in the spirit of my strange beloved homeland, i present this composition: winter on a stick.
cattail with morning frost
turtle lake, saint paul, minnesota
these feathers line the breast of the french red partridge, and they are useless. they serve no purpose. they are not productive. they do not offer camouflage. they do not help the partridge fly. they are merely perfectly, uselessly beautiful. they are my favorite feathers.
red partridge feathers
one of my operating theories about creativity is that if you find a pattern and keep repeating it, eventually almost by itself, it begins to look like something worth paying attention to. i wasn’t going anywhere in particular with these little branch-tip claws this afternoon, just clipping one after another, until they began to look like something that had begun with a plan.
pattern with winter crabapple fruit and branch tips
saint paul, minnsota
after driving by these lovelies for a few weeks, thinking of them as “red” in contrast to the whites and browns everywhere else, i stopped to snip a few and take them home, and suddenly they were not red, but a sort of oxidized tawny port color, as the result of slowly giving into winter’s cold. i liked their colors even better, close up.
dogwood, sumac, and crabapples
saint paul, minnesota
if yesterday was about turkey feather x’s, today is about y-shaped twigs. which, i can report, do not fit themselves easily end to end into attractive and complex weblike circle patterns. they elbow each other. they fidget. they do not sit still. they do not take direction. they talk back. they pass notes and giggle. this is as close to order as was reached today, in mrs. hoffman’s room 859.
saint paul, minnesota