yesterday i was talking to some friends about rescue dogs. how i try to find places where i can walk our dog off leash, and how there is an etiquette about calling up to approaching walkers to reassure them your dog is friendly and ask if they are ok with a little butt sniffing. the second most common response i get, after “yup, he’s fine,” is, “sorry, he’s a rescue dog, we don’t know how he’ll react.” i was griping about this a little bit, in the way you do when life sends you a small inconvenience and you want to turn it into something bigger, just because you’re in the mood to complain. several hours later, my mom was on her way over for dinner. i had been working all day, and suddenly found myself without a still blog photo at the point when the evening light was just getting a little too low to make a good image. as i was working through my options, none of them particularly good, my mom pulled up for dinner with a fistfull of clematis flowers. “I thought these would look good against your black backgrounds, honey,” she said, as she got out of her car. i guess we all need a little rescuing now and then.
clematis flowers and buds
our eva is back from college. her eye for pattern, color, and composition is extraordinary, and has only gotten better over the course of her freshman year. you may not be quite as happy as i am to have her back in our house, but you should know that still blog will be more interesting for a while, with her as my assistant.
bits and pieces of nature
here’s a photo similar to some i’ve taken before on a white background. i haven’t entirely mastered the black background yet, but in this case, it is clearly superior. there’s no way a white background could show how the base of this great horned owl feather dissolves into the ragged silver hairs that both insulate this northern species, and muffle the sound its wings make as it hushes through the air in pursuit of something completely unsuspecting. no sound of whistling or wind, as the air spills from between those downy little filaments. i have had an owl fly right over my head, and if i hadn’t noticed it’s huge bulk, i might have been like so many of its meals–oblivious until it was too late.
great horned owl feather (Bubo virginianus)
rice creek regional trail, lino lakes, minnesota
if i got good enough at observing my surroundings, i suppose i would never need a calendar. oh look, the first goat’s beard seed heads have puffed into existence, but there are still a lot of unopened buds. if i could add to that bit of observation the fact that the bull thistles are just starting to open, but haven’t bloomed, and that the crown vetch is in full bloom, and the raspberry blossoms have fallen but the raspberry fruits are hard and dark, and that the wild strawberries are fruiting, and that the cattails are about head high, and the dock plants are waist high with seed heads that look like millet, and that the tree frogs and green frogs are singing nightly but their songs are starting to wane, and the crickets haven’t begun to sing at all yet, and the sleeves of garlic mustard seeds have developed but are still green instead of brown, and that the pulpits of the jack-in-the-pulpits have collapsed, but the seed heads have just started to form, and that the blue flag irises in the shallows of the lake are in their full heavenly glory. if i could put all this together, i bet i could tell you, without the help of google or a calendar, that, yes, it is indeed, june 17.
goat’s-beard (Tragopogon pratensis)
lake johanna, arden hills, minnesota
this bird reminds me of 19th century photo portraits of native american warriors and chiefs. there was often something a little bit defiant and unbowed in their expressions, and yet something so sad in the suggestion that they could be summarized and contained in two dimensions, alone, on a chair. i feel that same sadness for this blue jay, who should be laughing at other birds from high perches, and flashing between balsam trees with steady wingbeats. not straining to hold his dignity together, on the side of a road, with his beak held high, and blood on his wingfeather.
tanglewood drive, shoreview, minnesota