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six legged stroller

this dapper, bamboo-hued gentleman was walking across my husband’s office window. because large insects rank high on the priority list in our household, he interrupted his client meeting to call our son Joe down to collect the walking stick. i don’t actually know how all of this went over with the client.

common walkingstick

saint paul, minnesota

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  1. margie says:

    well i had to interrupt a patients interview today to rescue a small mouse from my examining room :)

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stage hogs

all the roadsides in my neck of the woods right now seem to have been dusted with gold. it appears almost every wildflower is yellow and showing off. goldenrod, goldeneye, black-eyed susans, hawkweed, sweet clover, jewelweed, and everyone’s favorite allergen, ragweed.  the dainty blue asters i showed yesterday are hiding out in the woodland wings while the scene-stealing september  yellows hog center stage.

a bouquet of yellow september wildflowers

north oaks, minnesota

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  1. margie says:

    oh my look who left that last comment . I was just going to say i really love natures yellows at this time of year.

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frazzled

i generally dislike it when people talk about how busy they are, because although most imply that all this busyness has been imposed on them, in fact it is almost always a choice. so let me just say that through our choices, including a trip to france, kids’ soccer, piano lessons, a hopelessly spoiled dog, six pampered chickens, and dinner at home most nights, i have not found a satisfying and reliable creative routine all year. i feel a little bit like the aster in the foreground. tired after a long summer. hair a little mussed.

wild aster

sucker creek regional trial, saint paul, minnesota

comments
  1. margie says:

    so true , i believe in self determination with respect to how we occupy our time . I also really love this photograph. It so real.

  2. Ellen says:

    Great observation. I follow your blog for the photos, but also enjoy your notes.

  3. Becci Michalski says:

    Your creativity halts my perceived busyness for a moment and gives me such joy! Thank you sharing.

  4. LW says:

    you must be beautiful, darling! she looks perfect.

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and so it begins

the thing about fires is that they tend to spread. i caught this contained little blaze on one branch of an otherwise green maple tree today, but try as i might, i don’t think i will be able to extinguish it.

maple leaves in early september

north oaks, minnesota

comments
  1. margie says:

    amazing how those tree fires start

  2. LW says:

    perfect balance.

  3. such a perfect display, gorgeous, Mary-Jo ! oxox

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in defense of weeds

when we bought our house almost nine years ago, we inherited a small back yard pond.  the kind that needs a little pump to keep the water circulating and fresh. the pond sits under a copse of oak trees. so each fall, it fills with leaves. each spring i rake it out, top it off, and pretty much ignore it for the rest of the summer. the kids love the pond, and so do the wildlife who come to drink from it. this spring, due to the general busyness of preparing to leave for france, i didn’t rake the pond. so we now have a very dense, very lush aquatic weed garden.  my son, the budding naturalist, has counted no less than 7 resident frogs, of four different breeds–wood frog, pickerel frog, leopard frog, and green frog.  he is convinced the weeds are the draw. now what do i do next spring?

naiad pondweeds from our backyard pond

saint paul, minnesota

comments
  1. oh what a difficult question…, perhaps in spring you shoudn’t take out all of the weeds and take care of spawn … my pond is under a maple-tree…, you can imagine the lots of leaves I’m catching out every spring… But there’s no spawn, but frogs ;-). Kind regards Ghislana

  2. margie says:

    i would let nature take its course

  3. LW says:

    think of the varieties of things you will photograph! it’s a treasure trove.

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i went out for bacon, and came home with a rainbow

today steve and i went to breakfast at a beautiful farm-to-table restaurant in south minneapolis called wise acre eatery. but first a culinary digression. we went there specifically to buy their thick-cut, unsmoked bacon. our recent time spent eating and cooking in france, has hooked us on the joys of cooking with lardons, which shouldn’t be, but are in fact very difficult to find in Minnesota, land of Hormel, where bacon means smoked bacon. end of digression. in the end, what stunned me at wise acre eatery this morning was neither the breakfast hash, which was delectable, nor the bacon, which is the best we’ve found, but the landscaping, which appeared to include about 50 varieties of coleus. when, exactly, did this happen?  i am pretty observant. i like to visit botanical gardens and conservatories. but never have i seen so many cultivars in one place. is there a secret laboratory somewhere with eccentric botanists madly hybridizing coleus? the last time i landed on planet earth there appeared to be only a dozen or so varieties. whoa.

a collection of coleus leaves

wise acre eatery, minneapolis, minnesota

comments
  1. Carol Sommers says:

    There is even another one which i do not see: coleus mars. The leaves are very curly and almost black. It is winderful,planted with pink impatients. Wonderful photo today, as always.

  2. Kendra says:

    Gorgeous! Always brightens my day. I love the addition of the polka dot plants!

  3. LW says:

    I have to agree. I have begin a love affair with all the different coleus varieties I have been seeing. I see a new venture starting for you and your culinary man. Assuming you can fit one more business into your life…lardon distribution. thank you for today’s beauty on the still blog (as always!)

  4. Hey there! I’ve been readong your website for a long time now and finally got
    the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Houston Tx!
    Jusst wanted to tell you keep up the good job!

  5. Kathleen says:

    So many varieties of coleus? Amazing. Love how you’ve coupled the upside and underside of each leaf. Beautiful!

  6. margie says:

    what a gorgeous tribute to an often undervalued annual

  7. Manisha says:

    I am struck by how some of them seem like they have sketches on them. The one that is second from the bottom on the right side seems like a drawing. Such beautiful variety.

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bon voyage

the monarch in the middle of this arrangement will not be making the journey down to mexico this year, and there are too few of them left these days to afford even this small loss. so i am sending him, if only symbolically, southward toward warmer weather, surrounded by all the signs that it is time to go. i hope all of his brothers and sisters make it intact.

early september assemblage: cattail, sumac, red oak leaves, white pine needles, milkweed, and monarch butterfly

vadnais lake trail, saint paul, minnesota

 

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drill baby, drill

i am happy not to have been one of the grubs chewing just slightly too noisily through the trunk of this tree when the hairy woodpecker arrived and started cocking her head sideways to listen.

tree trunk with woodpecker holes old and new

sucker lake regional trail, saint paul, minnesota

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  1. I’m pretty happy not to be a grub in any circumstance

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poetry in stasis

most people would look at this image and be drawn to the striking red lanterns (aka male anthers) hanging from these prairie grass seed heads. but this former aerospace engineer can’t help looking at the sinuous shape of that stem, and thinking poetically to herself, “Aaaaaah, yes: f(x) = sin(x). Beautiful. Just beautiful.”

single stem of sideoats grama in late summer with red male stamen

rice creek regional trail, saint paul, minnesota

comments
  1. margie says:

    catching up here in still land and i must say i adore this photograph

  2. LW says:

    i definitely see something ready for take off!

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back to school, back to work

for most of us in the united states, today is the first day of school. and i can’t tell you how ready i am. usually i love having the kids home, running down to the lake, and then up through the house on the way to the neighbors’ across the street. happy kids, with wet hair, and tanned shoulders, and an eager puggle at their heels. but this year, perhaps because of our france trip, i am craving, absolutely craving, some structure and routine. i feel like i have been adrift since june. step one is always to get more regular and disciplined about my daily walks. my goal is every day, rain or shine, 3-5 miles.  i’m pretty good about it, but in summer with the kids around all day, my resolve melts.  if it is too hot, or too humid, i make up the thinnest of excuses. so, in an effort to jump start my new back-to-school routine, i took three long walks this weekend. and on each walk, i found one STILL-worthy item. three for three. i am choosing to take this as an auspicious start to the new (school) year.

striped feather, raccoon jaw bone, bittersweet berries

pike island, vadnais lake, and sucker lake trails in saint paul, minnesota

 

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  1. Happy come back to school to both your lovely children, Mary-Jo. U is going back this morning, P is going back this afternoon.
    I hear you about the need to go back to a particular rhythm that summer keeps us away from.
    Beautiful picks on your walk. ox

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