form and function

these bundles of grape twigs act as filters inside wine vats. they keep the grape skins away from the faucets that drain the vats. they also turn a spectacular red dogwood color from the staining effect of the fermenting juice. then, just afterwards, they happen to be possibly the most aromatic grilling embers in the world. so, in other words, they grow the grapes that make the wine. they filter the wine in the vat. they spend a brief time as art objects. and then they flavor the grilled meats that go best with the wine of the region that began as grapes on bunches hanging from themselves. that is a circle of life i can get excited about.

wine stained vine tendril bundles

autignac, france

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skip day

my eighteen year old daughter, eva, is home for a week for spring break. she’s in her freshman year of college out in california. when we left for our six month stay in france last august, she came with us for three weeks, then flew back by herself across the atlantic to minneapolis, and from minneapolis to san francisco. we haven’t all been in our house together since that moment when we watched her wind her way through the security line in the barcelona airport on her way to a new life. this is my way of explaining why i spent the day hanging out with eva, and not making a still blog photo. instead, i pulled this test shot from my archive. it was the first photo i took on a black background, in order to decide if i might like the idea. i did. i do.

fig leaves

autignac, france

  • Heather H. says:

    Love this, and so glad you are working in black. It’s different, for sure, from your white work, but this new work is stirring up feelings in me. Not sure I understand, but not thinking about it too hard. Just enjoying and appreciating. Also, super impressed that Eva was able to fly off to college on her own, and good for you for instilling such resilience in her.

    • Hi Heather,
      Thank you for your thoughtful comments and kind words of encouragement.
      It means the world to me to know someone out there is paying such careful attention :-)
      Mary Jo


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renewing my vows

i’ve known milkweed all my life. i grew up breaking its stems to watch the milky sap flow. i cracked open its seed pods and tossed fluffy seed parachutes in the air. later i celebrated it as a home and food for monarch butterflies. when we got bees, i loved that its late summer blossoms fed the bees that made our back yard honey. and today i found this elegant old milkweed stem by the side of a walking path through a prairie and suddenly saw it as something brand new again. i still love you, milkweed, just the same as always.

milkweed stem

vadnais lake, st. paul, minnesota

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teenage boys

in the case of the beaver skull above, the problem is physiological. but i have one teenage human boy in my house. and one adult boy who still has teenage boy in him. and one late middle aged dog who never progressed beyond the teenage boy phase. and like this beaver. their eyes are all bigger than their brain pans.

beaver skull

upper peninsula, michigan

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when the world gives you ice, you freeze seeds

have you heard of the Svalbard global seed vault? it’s an enormous deep freezer drilled into the side of a mountain on a small island halfway between Norway and the north pole. it currently houses about 1.5 million distinct seed samples, with a capacity for 4.5 million. leave it to the scandinavians to find such an innovative way to pay it forward. today i plan to pay it forward at my local coffee shop, buying coffees for the next dozen people in line. maybe i’ll just do it anonymously. or maybe i’ll ask the barista to let everyone know it is in honor of the Svalbard global seed vault. because they don’t think i’m weird enough yet, at the shoreview starbucks.

collection of various seeds and seed pods

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