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
i’m just nerdy enough to be a little fascinated with bracts, those little leaf like growths on linden trees and other plants that aren’t really foliage but aren’t really seeds or berries. mostly i love lindens and basswoods. but did you know that those red poinsettia “leaves” are actually bracts? see, i got you interested didn’t i?
linden tree seeds with bracts
a peek inside
m.f.k. fisher used to toast her tangerines on the radiator of her strasbourg apartment and then bite into them when their skin was dry and crackly and their insides were still cool and bursting with juice. nothing like that really happened this afternoon when i tried to peel away the skin of this tangerine in order to open a slightly suggestive window onto the inside of this fruit. instead, i tore a raggedy hole in the side of the tangerine, and bruised the wedges of interior flesh into a lustrous sheen. oh well. we’re not all m.f.k. fisher.
tangerine with leaves (Citrus tangerina)
bittersweet, the adjective and the noun
that beautiful bittersweet (n.) is an invasive species is, to say the least , bittersweet (adj.).
bittersweet vine (Celastrus orbiculatus)
vadnais lake, saint paul, minnesota
a winter’s walk
i know that young brides feel more secure somehow about carrying a bouquet of fresh, youthful flowers down the aisle. but i think a winter bouquet is every bit as beautiful, and maybe a little more realistic about how everything’s going to be looking, by the time her marriage has actually proven itself. i would happily wish on any bride a groom who can’t wait to embrace her winter bouquet phase. and who can take or leave the easy and vanishing beauty of spring’s bloom.
bouquet of winter stems