jigsaw puzzle

i’ve been trying to figure out where still blog goes, when it’s time to change direction. at the end of this year, it will have been 5 years of still blog against at white background every day. that is a kind of tradition, but also a kind of stagnation if it remains the same indefinitely. i am putting the pieces together slowly. i don’t have the puzzle completed. but there are fewer loose pieces than there were six months ago. stay tuned.

white poplar leaves (populus alba)

autignac, france

  • Whatever you come up with will be grand! Love following along on your journey!

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  • Dede says:

    Agree with @thegothamgirl. The inspiration you give me on a daily basis has made such an impact. Can’t wait to see where this take all of us: thank you MaryJo!

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  • lindsey says:

    I will not be mad if you leave it on a white background. Keeping with tradition is underrated; however, your classic + sophisticated taste will brew up something lovely no matter the change! enjoy following along all of your nature journeys.

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  • margie says:

    such a gorgeous image of curled leaves and i am excited to see where still blog will go in the next year

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this is not a snail

this poor guy got sold among a handful of sea snails by the local shellfish merchant. but he was not, in fact, an “escargot de mer.” he was a hermit crab squatter who had broken into someone else’s house and was living there in flagrant disregard. in theory, from a purely legal perspective, he had it coming. but i wish we’d found him earlier, before he’d been cooked in saltwater and a teaspoon of pastis, and could have set him free to continue  breaking the law in his stolen house.

hermit crab

mediterranean, france

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climatic correctness

this can’t be wild asparagus, i told jean-luc. wild asparagus ferns are feathery and soft. these are prickly and just drew blood from my middle finger. they must be some other plant. no, in fact, they are wild asparagus, and even this gentle plant has thorns here. or leaves so dense from intense sunlight that they act like thorns. it’s the equivalent of the woody, dense, brushy wild thyme we find in the garrigue here, compared to the soft feathery thyme of short, mostly mild, minnesota summers. there’s a reason everything tastes stronger here. the sun seems to pull extra flavor from almost everything.

wild asparagus (asparagus acutifolius)

autignac, france

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hidden depths

my son joseph gathered these mermaid’s purses for me when we were at the beach saturday evening. they were dried, and covered in crusted beach gunk, and they appeared mostly matte black. when we got home, i placed them in a bowl of salt water just to loosen the beach gunk so I could wipe them clean. i figured their shape alone had earned them the right to be a STILL blog subject. but after a quick salt water soak, and against a white background, theses caramel, coffee, and cognac colors suddenly emerged. i feel like i just won the egg case lottery. a lottery ticket i would totally buy, by the way, if someone were selling them.

shark or ray egg cases

la corniche plage, sète, france

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open season

i naturally look at snails primarily as a natural, bioregional phenomenon in certain ecosystems. they have scientific significance and make up a certain stratum of the food chain, eating plants and in turn being eaten by other animals. that is how one thinks about snails where i come from. but the first thing that occurs to our french friends when they see a snail is, first, whether it is fully grown, which means that it has begun reproducing, and is therefore harvestable. And, second, whether it is currently snail season or not. i view them in the same way i would view a beetle for instance, or a mayfly, or a cicada. food for something, certainly, but not food for me. our neighbors, on the other hand, think, “hmmm . . . dinner?”

land snails

autignac, france

p.s. a snail’s shell forms a logarithmic spiral. Most snail shells are right-handed or dextral  in coiling, meaning that if the shell is held with the apex (the tip, or the juvenile whorls) pointing towards the observer, the spiral proceeds in a clockwise direction from the apex to the opening.

  • Carol says:

    I’m with you. Just pass the butter and garlic and hold the snail

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