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maple-seeds-and-stems
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cycles

the stems that drop the seeds that sprout the trees that grow the branches that make the stems that drop the seeds that sprout the trees that grow the branches . . .

maple seed and stems

saint paul, minnesota

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  1. Tracy Klinesteker says:

    Isn’t it wonderful!

  2. Erica says:

    That would make a great textile design.

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junco-mjh
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sigh.

this morning, the most spring-like in recent memory, the air was filled with the songs of cardinals , and robins, and canada geese, and the successive laying songs of several chickens, and the conk-a-ree of red-winged blackbirds, and the chiming trill of dark-eyed juncos. minus one.

dark -eyed junco

found under our window, saint paul, minnesota

comments
  1. Manisha says:

    I just noticed this little bird. It’s my first sight (the identification cards I keep in my kitchen was very helpful!) and now the bird has become my sign of spring. Despite your feelings of finding this bird under your window, I am grateful for the opportunity to get a closer look at it from your photo. Thanks!

  2. Candice says:

    So handsome. Our juncos also have that pale pink beak.

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Late-winter-cottonwood-leaves
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bronze shields

the battlefield is littered with fallen shields. winter’s annual victory is complete. but in the far reaches of the empire, there is movement. a spring rebellion is in the works.

last year’s cottonwood leaves in mid-april

swede hollow cafe and community garden, saint paul, minnesota

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  1. margie says:

    i love these leaves

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red-cedar-cones
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in a land of feathery tufts and carpets of gold

tamaracks are a favorite in this family. sometimes you can mistake a spruce for a balsam, but you can never mistake a tamarack–especially not in fall when whole swamps ignite with yellow fire. the cones in this photo are waiting to make new tamaracks, and the little buds along the branches are waiting to become another year’s worth of feathery needle tufts that will turn honey colored next autumn, and carpet the swamps of northern minnesota with gold.

tamarack cones

vadnais lake, saint paul, minnesota

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later-winter-weed
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lowly weed or delicate wildflower?

my thoughts about this image are: 1)  After more than two years of walking the same path, how can I not have noticed this plant before?, and 2) it is almost impossible to identify plants in winter. are those dark spots flowers? berries? galls? dried leaves? on a related subject, we are currently tapping a couple of maple trees in our back yard to make maple syrup, and my husband, a nonprofessional but knowledgeable lover of the trees of this region, just spent an hour he couldn’t really afford this late in tax season researching, and failing to decide, whether the bark on one of the trees in our front yard was the bark of an ash or a box elder, the latter of which is in the maple family, and can be tapped for syrup. we’ll know in a month or so, when the leaves burst from their buds, and the sap has long since stopped running. all of which, i suppose, is a further invitation to pay attention. this summer, when it won’t seem to matter, we will risk taking for granted once again that the tree in the front yard with the low fork, and the gray fissured bark, is an ash, or a box elder, although the difference could be crucial the following march.

unidentified late winter stem

lake vadnais, saint paul, minnesota

comments
  1. Alicia says:

    the stalk looks a lot like blue cohosh to me. not sure though.

  2. Lena S says:

    I think both – weed and wildflower, and gorgeous. And art.

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Early-April-Assemblage
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unlocked

i had been struggling with this late winter assemblage for some time when my friend Kristin showed up at my front door.  “what are you trying to do do?” she asked. “i’m stuck,” i said. “i’ve already done bouquets, and wreaths, and lineups, and grids, and…well, i’m stuck.” she sat down on my kitchen floor in the way an old friend can, and said, “what if we put the pieces together like a tile mosaic?” and with that, the floodgates opened. i  love it when that happens!

assemblage of late winter finds

lake vadnais, saint paul, minnesota

comments
  1. tinajo says:

    Friendships creates beautiful happenings..! :-)

  2. Traci says:

    This is one of my favorite images you’ve ever shared.

  3. Lena S says:

    I love this!!! Fantastic!

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foxtail-bouquet
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fox tales

two nights ago at dusk, we saw two foxes playing along the edge of the cattails near the dock. it was too dark to make out their coloring, but we were sure they were foxes by their big bushy tails. we couldn’t tell if they were gray or red fox–both of which are residents of our woods. they chased each other and roughhoused with a jubilant abandon that was both endearing and thrilling. far from feeling threatened by the nearness of such predators, we had an obscure instinct to let our puggle, jack, out the back door to join the fun. last night, the same pair returned, this time earlier in the evening. and the flat afternoon light revealed that they weren’t foxes at all, but young coyotes. still we were charmed by their puppyish games, until we thought about the six hens, each possessing a name and a personality, slowly making their way along the foundation of our house toward their evening roost. we locked our girls in a little earlier than usual that night.

bouquet of foxtail grass in winter

vadnais lake, saint paul, minnesota

 

comments
  1. Suzanne says:

    Just discovered your blog through Mary Caroll Moore’s writing newsletter. Your work is amazing and I’m happy to have stumbled upon it here in the Blogosphere!
    Last night as my husband was closing the blinds against the dark and snow (I’m in Minnesota, too), a fox ran across our driveway. Heart stoppingly beautiful!

    xo Suzanne

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dried-rose-bud
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because

here is a dried rosebud, because it was the photo i had in my queue, and because sometimes the need to post a daily picture runs up against your daughter’s insistent request for a savoyard potato dish called tartiflette, and instead of spending the afternoon arranging an evocative nature display for your blog, you spend it parboiling potatoes and trying to find the nearest thing to reblochon cheese in the twin cities metro area, where true reblochon does not exist because the fda has banned raw milk cheeses in the united states although of course such cheeses have been eaten safely for centuries throughout the world. on the other hand the tartiflette was sumptuous. all of which is a very roundabout way of saying: here is a dried rosebud.

dried rose bud

 

comments
  1. colleen says:

    lovely…this reads like a Billy Collins poem. I always start my day with still blog. Such gorgeous images and thoughtful commentary.

  2. Kerry says:

    We get our milk from a local farm who sells cheese as well. It’s called a cow share and as long as you own part of the herd, you can consume raw milk and cheese to your hearts content. Maybe there’s something like that in your area? Love your photos and arrangements!

  3. Tracy Klinesteker says:

    No worries. Many times life gets in the way of art, especially in households with children. We know where your real priorities are.

  4. Margie says:

    We can buy raw milk at a local organic farmers market but I am certain it doesn’t taste as good as what you can buy in France .

    • You all have inspired me to find a good source for raw milk cheese somewhere near Minneapolis this summer. It will be a fun summer project. Thank you! I think I will start with the cheesemonger at the Saint Paul farmers market who sells a raw milk cows cheese he calls “fish bait”. He can’t call it cheese, because it’s raw milk, so he calls it fish bait, and sells it with a wink, and doesn’t care what you do with it.

  5. Moira Keane says:

    Your children are part of your art. Good to see your priorities are well aligned.

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late-winter-leaf
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bowed but proud

after months of complaining about our historically awful winter, here i am getting all sentimental about saying goodbye to these spare elemental images. i know. i know. part of me is so over seeing the same bare branches and twigs on my daily walk. but the curtain of green that’s coming will be as overwhelming and as familiar soon enough. and when all is said and done, i love the creativity that comes from winter’s forced austerity. my stripped-down winter images in browns and grays are among my personal favorites. pinterest has made it clear that most people respond to brightness and color. so, yes, give me citrus slices, magnolia buds, and crocuses erupting from wet soil. but don’t forget sometimes to give me a single, erect stalk, and a folded umbrella of battered leaves.

late winter leaf

saint paul, minnesota

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  1. Kendra says:

    I agree, fully. What you have written is beautiful poetry. Thank you- you are inspiring.

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scarred-tree-trunk
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acceptance

what began as an intrusion ended as an embrace.

scarred tree trunk

along my driveway, saint paul, minnesota

comments
  1. LW says:

    beautiful sentiment…(not the mold guy, but yours)

  2. Sandy Huron says:

    Cookie Monster having a different kind of snack!

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