green-berries
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nightshade

it’s hard to imagine the deliciousness of the tomato, probably my favorite food, among the members of the poisonous nightshade family. seriously, don’t you look at this unripe bunch of grape tomatoes and think how sweet they’ll be when they turn red? spoiler alert. they will not turn red. they will turn dark blue, and they will kill you. this branch sat for a couple of days on my front passenger seat, next to my beloved dog, until i realized what it was. the incident reminded me of that time when our daughter was about two years old, and we stayed at a friend’s cabin in northern minnesota. we were gathering some local wildflowers to press and photograph, including what we thought was a beautiful spray of cow parsnip. when we finally identified the plant positively, we realized that the spray of greenery lying on the table right next to our angelically napping daughter was in fact water hemlock. the first line of the description in our wildflower book went as follows: “water hemlock: this is one of the most deadly poisonous plants in the u.s. to both humans and animals.” we felt pretty proud of ourselves that day.

nightshade

saint paul, minnesota

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white-spruce-botanical
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i “still” love you.

most married couples with kids probably text messages like “can you pick up milk?”, or “what time is johnny’s dentist appointment?” the luckier ones might say things like “how about i pick up indian takeout on my way home?” or “thanks for last night”. my husband sends me texts that say “young spruce cones dripping with sap on hodgson road”. there are all sorts of ways to say “i love you.”

white spruce botanical

saint paul, minnesota

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ruby-throated-humming-bird
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operation hummingbird

yesterday afternoon, we discovered this little gal bouncing against the inside of our kitchen skylight like an oversized bumblebee. this, of course, was an emergency. we are the kind of household that escorts stray spiders, wasps, and mayflies out the front door so that they may continue their sundry quests for self-fulfillment. a trapped hummingbird represented a next-level crisis that required all hands on deck, and involved a stool, a ladder, a ball jar, a catch-and-release trout net, a tennis racket, a bread board, and, eventually, my husband’s big hands, which plucked the hummingbird gently from its perch, when it had finally settled in precarious exhaustion on a tiny lip of window sill. She posed for about five minutes in the STILL blog studio we  set up on our front step, blinking tiredly, and then lifted her head, glanced around, and thrummed off into the trees. we can report that operation hummingbird ended in complete success.

female ruby-throated hummingbird

saint paul, minnesota

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  1. margie says:

    what a wonderful family you are

  2. Holly says:

    An extraordinary still moment in so many ways! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Kathleen says:

    What a beautiful mission accomplished and what a beauty she is.

  4. Kathleen says:

    I linked to your blog and posted my own hummingbird rescue story on my Facebook page. Thanks for bringing back the memory. :)
    facebook.com/TrowelandPaintbrush

  5. Nielz says:

    Absolutely, a b s o l u t e l y wonderw o n d e r f u l l ! You hit the spot with your nice stories and your awesome photos!
    Thanks for this.
    Biggest respect!
    Nielz

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rocket-stems-3b
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happy birthday, papa

yesterday was hemingway’s birthday. i’ve never encountered a writer i think i would have liked less in person, whose writing has held me so spellbound. i mention this as an acknowledgement that he might well have seen in these graceful wildflower stems the arcing paths of antiaircraft flak shells somewhere over spain. and he would have had me interested. the bastard.

unidentified wildflower stems

rice creek trail, saint paul, minnesota

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  1. Like many other intellectuals of the time as George Orwell or André Malraux, Hemingway also pledged with the legitimate Government of the Republic, that and like it. But it was a lover of the “fiesta de los toros” and that I do not like anything.

  2. I think he was a lousy writer.

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blue-jay-tail
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cyan

i just discovered that the latin name for blue jay is cyanocitta cristata. well doesn’t that word “cyan”  just jump out all of a sudden? it’s greek for “blue,”  and familiar to everyone who ever owned a color printer. so the blue jay, according to taxonomists, is a “crested, chatty blue bird.” pretty much dead on.

northern blue jay tail feathers

saint pual, minnesota

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  1. Un pariente español cercano del blue jay es el Rabilargo, que también tiene plumas azules y en latín se llama Cyanopica cyanus. Solo se encuentran poblaciones en España, Portugal y Extremo Oriente

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