the problem of winter
i walked past this stalk of berries maybe fifty times this summer, and every time i thought quietly to myself, “red baneberry” and kept walking. then i brought some foreign stalk onto my house in winter, and the berries were a darkened wrinkled bluish, and they all fell off at the same time to reveal this beautifully graphic bottlebrush, and it took me half an hour to identify them as the quite obvious red baneberry of summer. i’ve gotten pretty good at trees, but woodland stalks in winter are strangers to me, even though they are like family for the rest of the year.
actaea rubra (red baneberry)
new year, new rules
if you will recall, my stretch for this year will be to experiment with occasional photos of food. as most of you know, my husband is a food writer, and we collaborate all the time, so this should open up some new avenues for me and also build some images that perhaps we both can profit from in the end. but i won’t be photographing styled food or cooked dishes. i would like to experiment with food as nature. i think seeds, and pods, and roots, and fruits are all fascinating, and i think i can bring them in under the STILL blog umbrella without altering the overall vision by much. you and i will all be discovering exactly what this means as i go.
so, having said all that already, i am now tiptoeing my way into what it might mean to allow food in some form to make occasional appearances in still blog without changing what still blog stands for. the point is to use food not primarily as something that looks good to eat, but food as biology, nature, shape, line, landscape. this is an early effort to create a definition of “still food.” in all modesty . . . i like it.
carrot tips (Daucus carota)
there are few things i like less than pro football. but come on. that was magic last night. am i really going to say this? sigh. ok. go vikings. win the damn super bowl.
purple calla lilly
negative or positive
i can’t decide if this is something everyone will see, or whether its just something that jumped out to me, but i looked at this porcupine quill for a long time and then looked away to answer a question, and when i looked back, it was no longer a porcupine quill but a zipper rip in the middle of white fabric. what’s the negative space? what’s the positive space? apparently it depends on whether you’ve just tried to answer a question about factoring trinomials from your 8th grader.
african porcupine quill
occasionally there will be a study trying to quantify just how much money nature saves us by simply being itself. what would it costs us in effort, treasure, and ingenuity if we had to replace the sun’s energy, or fertilize all of our food by hand, or farm our woods and waters. or store the nutrients the soil absorbs and apply them correctly. it’s mind boggling to think about, and it makes working with nature, instead of trying to improve her, seem like such a sensible idea. let gravity be gravity and find ways to minimize how much we need to fight it. in the same way, i sometimes think about how much more work i’d have to do if nature didn’t blossom, grow, age, and die so overwhelmingly picturesquely. think about trying to engineer the shapes and faded colors of these flowers and stems that reached their current state, literally, by sitting in a flat file drawer for a few months, completely ignored.
photo of all the dried botanical bits in my flat-file drawer