don’t know where to look
sometimes i encounter a scene that is so beautiful in its completeness but also so beautiful in all of it’s individual components that i don’t know where to look. i find my gaze wandering almost hungrily, trying to compress the scene into something i can consume all at once, and then, discovering that i can’t, i resume seeking out each beautiful element, and then the next, and then the next, and then the whole again. that happened this morning during a visit to our lake, where my son was fishing in the fog. i thought the photos would be of him in his boat, on flat calm morning water. but the beauty ended up being in the cattails i walked past, etched sculpturally against a white sky. it is very late at night just now, and i have just asked my family to whittle down the “finalists” from an original 23 or so, to about 10, to an enhanced group of 5, to a playoff between a final 2. but really, you should have seen them all.
cattails in late october
everyone in the north is getting ready for winter. the expansiveness of summer, arms thrown wide under the sun, has been replaced by the classic cold weather stance, each hand grabbing the opposite bicep, and rubbing up and down for warmth. if you don’t know what i’m talking about, look at any minneapolis bus stop between december 1 and march 31. everybody looks like this fern.
late october fern frond curling on itself
there is a book called designing your life, written by the founders of the stanford d-school, which i read recently and decided i should teach as an undergraduate design course. we’ll see whether that happens or not, but meanwhile, one of their suggestions is to make a mind map of what you think your interests are and how they might be applied in the real world. then you take that to a second iteration. then you take that second iteration, and make a third iteration, and by the time you get to that point, you have begun to imagine some interesting possibilities. in the case of this photo, first i stepped on a dried leaf, then i tried carefully to separate the fragments into something more interesting, and then, finally, i blew on them, and suddenly things got interesting.
dried smoketree leaf, shattered
order with a bit of chaos
this composition started with the semicircular chain of yellowing hosta leaves. that took about 35 seconds. then i took about an hour or so of arranging, then disarranging, then adding elements, then removing elements, then disarranging some more, then arranging just a little bit, to make the “random” elements of this image look both random enough to feel random, and distributed interestingly enough to be worthy of your attention, dear STILL blog visitor. i work hard to earn your morning visits. don’t think otherwise.
a spade full of forest duff
when you live in the north american woods you learn that the forest floor is not made up of soil. or rather its top layer is not made up of soil. it is made of something called duff, which is a loose semi-deteriorated layer of leaves and roots and needles that some woodland wildflowers can only grow in. below the duff is the actual soil. but i love the concept of duff. that a unique layer of life in the forest can only live in conditions that are constantly in transition.
hardwood forest duff