elegant little bastards
i’m in love with the curvilinear elegance of these gently gravity-defying virginia stickseed branches, like little strings of beads. on the other hand, when i walk through a field of them, and then try to remove them from my pantlegs and socks, they can go to hell.
virginia stickseed burs (Hackelia virginiana)
let’s take a closer look
this is yesterday’s bouquet, seen a little closer, and maybe a little more colorfully, but i’m sorry, despite two public efforts, this is not quite what i saw in my hand when i assembled this bouquet from a random selection of trailside grasses and seed heads. mother nature is a tricky thing to try to equal.
prairie grass bouquet in early august
rice creek, saint paul, minnesota
first of all, when will the expression “broken record” fall out of English usage, given that the experience of a needle on a record finding the wrong scratch is practically an obsolete experience these days? second of all, i do actually sound like a broken record today because i am telling you for the second day in a row about how a photograph has failed to fully bring to life a collection of flora that in my hand was simply breathtaking. this is what you get today, but expect a few more attempts at this image in the next few days.
bouquet of prairie grasses in early august
rice creek regional trail, saint paul, minnesota
this is what happens when you spend a day in that very old-fashioned activity, burning brush, which is rightly banned in most metro areas but which, every once in a while (like after you have had to cut down six standing dead oaks in your side yard), is so remarkably satisfying. today i unwittingly built my fire under a catalpa tree, and as i dragged twigs and slash through the woods over the course of the afternoon, these leaves were smoked slowly in the heat above the fire, and curled into themselves without quite drying, so that they ended up looking like soft piles of green velvet. it is an effect that my camera captured in the most approximate way, so approximately, in fact, that I wish i could just place one of these in your hand, next to a window facing away from the sun, so that you could hold it in front of you, and turn it this way and that, and truly get the full effect. in other words, today i spent time burning brush, but also spent time exploring some of the limitations of photography and a few of the advantages of sculpture.
singed catalpa leaves
would i or wouldn’t i?
i think a lot about what still blog would be if i lived somewhere more colorful. this bright splash of saffron was just one of many flowers i could have snipped and photographed on my short walk from our rental house in california to the coffee shop in town. it is so much fun to have color to photograph and it makes life so much easier in so many ways, and yet . . . i don’t just sort of think that constraints generate creativity. i believe it deep in my bones. and if i had had nothing but color to look at every day for six years, i’m not sure i’d love still blog as much as i do now, with its muted colors and whole winters full of grays and browns, and its compositions born sometimes out of constraints and sometimes out of something closer to desperation. if i could live somewhere tropical, or somewhere where it was possible to grow tropical plants most of the year, would i, or wouldn’t i, take that offer. i’d sure need to think about it.
Crocosmia (montbretia) flower
stinson beach, california