i just received my favorite email in a long while from a graduate student in neuroscience who studied photography and genetics as an undergrad. she congratulated me on how my photos capture the phenotypic plasticity found in nature. in other words, how genetically similar individuals vary in appearance and behavior based on their environment. yes, i thought to myself. phenotypic plasticity. yes, indeed. god bless the scientists and the nerds. they (ok, we) are the best people.
feral bearded garden iris from along our driveway
turtle lake, shoreview, minnesota
at the opposite end of the year from december, when we brighten winter’s gloom with fir boughs and white twinkle lights, these little candle flame clematis buds are preparing to brighten the almost oppressive green of spring with their showy white flames.
saint paul, minnesota
some creatures are alpha creatures and some are beta creatures. clove was a beta. she was picked on all her life. she grew accustomed to being chased away from her feed in the morning. if we heard a stressed cry from the chicken run, it was probably clove, running away from another of her bullying sisters. clove had pasty butt as a chick, then she swallowed a shard of glass and coughed blood for a day, then she was attacked by a fox and lost most of her tail feathers, then she got diarrhea and spent a week of winter evenings inside by the fire with us, then she got lethargic and puffy and stood by herself in a corner of the coop for a week, and after each near-death experience, she would emerge and rejoin her sisters, only to be bullied and henpecked. just last week, she spent a whole day inside the coop, and then spent the next day lying down, with her wings spread, and by that evening, she was on her side with her head stretched out peacefully on a bed of straw. i think she would say that she had a good life, and i think she would say that she was ready when death came. her expectations of life were enough food and water, and the company of her kind. if the day brought a dirt bath, or some mealworms, or an afternoon of backyard foraging, she counted that an extra good day. we will miss her slightly squeaky mutterings at night on the roost, when we would massage her crop, and tell her what a good girl she was.
golden buff/cinnamon buff chicken
turtle lake, saint paul, minnesota
back in the land of the lush
i’m just back from a weekend in palm springs and minnesota looks wondrous and tropical and wildly prolific. i can’t remember ever sweating so much and feeling so dry at the same time as palm springs in may.
almost berry season
all spring and early summer it’s “almost berry season” until suddenly it’s post-berry season, and the voles and chipmunks and mice have eaten all the strawberries and the starlings and catbirds and robins and cardinals have eaten all the blackberries, and we have harvested a few scant handfuls and have vague memories of the abundance we had predicted in may.
ripe and unripe wild blackberries