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different stripes

when i traveled through europe in college in the 1980s, president reagan was not popular on that side of the atlantic. it was common to sew a canadian flag on our backpacks in order to avoid trouble. i also happened to be dating a canadian hockey player at the time. then when my husband and i went on our honeymoon, we drove up the saint lawrence and stayed in quebec city. these maple leaves have me wondering if i’m not just a little bit canadian.

maple leaves in mid-october

saint paul, minnesota

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  1. Ellen says:

    This is the weekend of Canadian Thanksgiving.

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intentionally random

i once heard a great story from john dolan, the photographer who shot my martha stewart feature. he was talking about a creative director who always advised styiling a photograph meticulously, and then actually physically shaking up the elements of the photograph so that they landed just slightly randomly and disarranged. in the case of these stems, i had them beautifully woven into a grid, and then they fell onto the kitchen floor into this accidentally random pattern, which was, of course, much more interesting than my meticulous weaving. art by accident. i’ll take it.

seed head fronds of an unidentified common weed

rice creek regional trail, saint paul, minnesota

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  1. betsy caldwell says:

    Love that! You are right you know. Much better. I paint and I am constantly looking for approval, when I really need to just do the work, and not worry too much about the response of others. Seems simple. SOOOO hard for me. Thanks for being willing to share your process!

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one hour

it’s easy to think of the northern climate as full of a limited and sterile beauty: the circumpolar greens, blacks, and whites of alaska, canada, scandinavia, greenland, and siberia. minnesota partakes more of that boreal north than the temperate middle, much less the tropical south, but in an hour on a fall day, here’s what i was able to gather without really much effort: oak, maple, willow, aspen, sumac, birch, elm, and virginia creeper, in green, yellow, orange, red, tan, brown, and gray. i wonder what would have happened if i’d taken a two hour walk.

leaves from one october walk

grass lake trail, shoreview, minnesota

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  1. such diversity !
    Another stunning photo, Mary-Jo !
    xo

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synapse

i was interviewed recently by a young french woman doing her work on a thesis called Synapse, which focuses on climate in a way intended to inspire artists, artisans and designers. she asked me about a dozen remarkably thoughtful questions. you can read the whole interview here. one of the questions she asked was whether i was witnessing climate change firsthand since beginning STILL blog. i told her the unfortunate truth, which is that i feel i am witnessing, through the dailiness of STILL blog, the earlier springs and later winters of a global and epochal phenomenon.

staghorn sumac leaves in october

saint paul, minnesota

 

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black and white on white

those who grow up north of the 45th parallel have a special place in their hearts for birch trees. their white trunks stand out so sharply against a curtain of evergreens, or a deep blue lake, or a steel gray sky.

paper birch tree trunks

saint paul, minnesota

 

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  1. Tracy Klinesteker says:

    There is something about birch trees. Raised in So Cal, my father was gardner supreme and kept a small group of birch trees in our yard. I loved them as a child. Their beautiful texture, so clean and neat. We used to get in terrible trouble because we used to peel the paper bark off. Dad would have a fit if he caught us! They represent to me clean, fresh, mountain air. In your photo, you’ve caught their beautiful texture and stateliness.

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the blade and the chalice

i originally photographed this triangle with the point facing up, and i realized that i don’t do many triangle shapes, but i do lots and lots of circles. the triangle shape felt aggressive and slightly in-your-face in its energy. i even talked to my husband about it tonight on the couch. then, just before i posted the photo, i read a little bit about the symbology of triangles, and was reminded (anyone who has read the da vinci code will understand) that the triangle represents the blade, which is the shape of a rudimentary phallus and has a male energy, whereas the upside down triangle represents the chalice, which represents the womb, and has a female energy. don’t ask me why this feels true even on an aesthetic, emotional, and almost quantum energy level. but it does.

bits and pieces from my early october desk

saint paul, minnesota

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  1. margie says:

    it also means deep grounding energy

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should i stay or should i go now?

the greens are battling the yellows this fall, and it currently looks like anyone’s game, although, as always, the fix is in.

mountain ash frond in october

saint paul, minnesota

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  1. margie says:

    i love the transition

  2. Transitions are nice & always very special.
    Awesome branch, photo & title !
    xoxo

  3. LW says:

    i love the green any day of year, but i must say that yellow does look especially beautiful against that green.

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out of place

i have tried to minimize buying clothes and home accessories when i travel, because when i get back home, the colors never look right. we minnesotans generally head toward warmer climates when we travel, and warm climates tend to feature vibrant colors that don’t get washed out in bright sunlight. but back in minnesota, those tropical/citrusy/saturated colors look like garish neon signs against our cool-toned northern elements. take these zinnias that i picked today. they suddenly look so out of place in a minnesota blog, and now it makes sense, because i just read in wiki that they are native to the southwest united states and mexico. of course they are. i really didn’t need wiki to tell me that.

ocotber zinnias

minneapolis, minnesota

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  1. LW says:

    such a beautiful palette it’s hard to resist!

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lakeshore csi

usually when i walk it is just the dog and i. we walk in silence. jack’s nose and my eyes both on high alert. recently, my friend kristin has been joining us once a week.  the last time we walked, we happened upon these flicker feathers.  they weren’t exactly in a pretty little pile for us. they were scattered about and happened, as you all now know, to look exactly like the yellow willow, oak, walnut, ash, and birch leaves littering the edge of the trail. i found one. then another. and then i just knew. i must have looked like a hunting dog on a scent trail. i started walking in tight circles. eyes fixed on the ground. i began muttering to myself about a how someone had lost a struggle here last night. and slowly but surely i found over two dozen feathers. my friend kristin, finely broke my concentration when she announced “walking with you is like watching a csi movie.”

northern flicker feathers

vadnais lake trail, saint paul, minnesota

p.s. about that log lady… not yet. not yet.

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  1. margie says:

    ha , my daughter studied wildlife forensic science for her undergraduate degree

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on inspiration and imitation

i was a reluctant and slow joiner, but for now i am all in on instagram. i have found it it a rewarding way to kill those 5 minute waits that seem to pepper any given day.  recently, while browsing in the car between my arrival at my son’s school and the bell for dismissal, i came upon the feed of two makers in australia, lucy and lily, who go by the name of @peachesandkeen.  they started making patterns with plants that sort of blew me away. so, good artistic thief that i am, i tried my hand. i like how it turned out. i like it a lot, actually. but i have to admit, in the end it looks more like an imitation than not.  sometimes, when i see something inspiring like that, my attempt to imitate it ends up so different from the original that it becomes something of my own, influenced by the original, but at the same time something new. in this case, i respectfully cede the floor to lucy and lily, who are doing something i have failed to appropriate, and have only managed to imitate. in other words, bravo @peachesandkeen.

assemblage of late september wildflower bits and pieces

saint paul, minnesota

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