cordyceps

my son spent a lot of his youth watching the series “planet earth.” he had barely learned to talk before he was lecturing us, in a fairly pronounced lisp, on the species of the subarctic taiga, to pick an example at random. because he was a boy, and because testosterone is a strange drug, his favorite episode was the cordyceps episode. he watched over and over in horrified fascination as the members of an ant colony were stricken, one by one, with cordyceps mushrooms, which blossomed lethally out of their heads and other body parts, as other ants hurried them away like lepers, so that the rest of the colony might be spared. so yes, these bursting pussy willow catkins are delicate and lovely, and full of pollen that our awakening bees will soon be visiting. but i have a boy. so what i see are cordyceps.

pussy willow (male catkins)

vadnais lake trail, saint paul, minnesota

  • Susan says:

    Exquisite photograph.
    I’m fascinated/repulsed by the cordyceps story. Might have to try to find that episode!

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phenology

i take at least one photo of maple blossoms every year for still blog. the blossoms above have arrived just about one month early. it feels like being seduced by a very handsome man who you know is a player. you can’t help but give in to all of the good feelings, but you know he’s going to break your heart. i’m taking warm, sunny walks every day with my elated dog, who has been liberated from the corner of the couch where he has spent too much of the past winter. but it’s either going to snow a foot between now and april, and the buds that follow these blossoms will suffer. or it won’t snow again, and this will be the earliest spring in recorded history. which is both seductive and chilling. not that kind of chilling.

silver maple blossoms

minneapolis, minnesota

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dead birds

in a recent interview, i was asked about the prevalence of death in a blog purportedly preoccupied with simplicity and the beauty of nature. i answered this way: “it should be obvious, but focusing on nature does not always mean water lilies and sunflower fields. everything in nature dies, and if you spend enough time there, dead things simply become part of the landscape, and coming across them becomes part of experiencing that landscape. they are often some of my favorite images—with a lot of peacefulness, beauty and grace. in all cases, the animals were found already deceased, and, I hope you agree, have been respectfully commemorated.” all of the above apply to this dead pigeon, found in a nest of its own beautiful feathers beside the trail this afternoon.

pigeon feathers and head

vadnais lake trail, saint paul, minnesota

  • Cecelia says:

    I particularly like your photos of the dead. I am able to see the beauty these creatures posses. when they are alive and running or flying away from us we can’t see all their glory.

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  • Susan says:

    There is definitely beauty in death. We could see it more clearly if we weren’t so afraid of it.

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a wobbly mondrian

these willow twigs looked very straight and flat until i tried to lay them out in a mondrian pattern. then they were suddenly very s-shaped, non-parallel, and wobbly. i refuse either to confirm or deny that some scotch tape entered into things, somewhere outside the frame.

weeping willow switches

roseville, minnesota

  • Nielz says:

    Ha! Tape? Mondrian himself would beat himself with your twigs. But he’d like it very much!
    Cool!

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  • Carol says:

    Oh, a little tape never hurt anyone. I threaten to duct tape my jowls up to where my cheeks once were. Lovely arrangememt. Love the minimal Mondrian

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dreams do come true. instagram helps.

it’s official! as of this morning, the entire STILL by Mary Jo Hoffman collection is available to purchase on the target.com website. i don’t think i’ve told the origin story behind this target collection before. on new year’s eve 2014, i was sitting by the fire with steve drinking tea because i had a head cold, and i posted on instagram that in 2015, i wanted to license my images to a national retailer. this was probably the least likely new year’s resolution in history. an obscure nature blog, buried in the deep recesses of the blogosphere, talking smack. but then, 45 minutes later, one of my favorite followers, jenny beebe, replied that she had worked at target and knew the head of soft goods at target online, would i mind if she put him in touch with me. i thought about it and decided i didn’t mind. one hour after that, with my cup of tea still full, and the fire still burning in the fireplace, the head of soft goods at target.com texted me and said he had just scrolled through STILL blog and wanted to buy me coffee. on january 3, he called and said, forget the coffee, i’ll give you a week to come in and give us a product pitch. we have a saying in our house: nothing happens unless you write it down. go write it down, people.

STILL by mary jo hoffman for target.com

 

  • Jenny b says:

    so happy something amazing came of it all. Now I’m just waiting for Oprah to put it on her fave things.

    reply
  • “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Congratulations

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  • Manisha says:

    I can’t decide which one I like the most! Congrats on all of this but especially for putting it out there!

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  • Barb says:

    I can’t say I’m surprised – but whoa! congratulations!!

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  • They are all just beautiful, Mary Jo. I look forward to your stillblog every morning!

    reply
  • mary says:

    Great story and wonderful blog. I’m going to write it down Today!

    reply
  • Erica says:

    SO PROUD AND DELIGHTED! Way to go, mjh. It’s cool to see you rewarded so well for your long dedication to
    photography and keen skills of observantion.

    reply
  • Jane says:

    Took one look at the thistle spread and purchased it. It will look so great in my garden bedroom.

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