please welcome . . . making its first appearance on STILL blog…
in early spring these leaves start showing up like little tongues among their fellow early season weeds. they are actually quite edible, with a lemony tart flavor. but most people miss them at that stage. it is now, when their shaggy seedheads stand three feet tall that most people could identify dock, although most people still seem not to know its name. i had always noticed them previously because i am something of a plant geek, but i had never noticed this much color before. i can’t tell if these are different morphs of the same curly dock, or the same curly dock at different stages of maturity. but what i can say is, welcome, beautiful, to STILL blog.
these foxtail barley normally bend head-heavy on the long arcs of their stems. i was trying to recreate this effect against my white light reflector, and the entire sheaf of stems broke free of my fasteners and spun so that they were hanging upside down. what was going to be a study of the parallel curves of stems, suddenly turned into a study of the complicated weavings of the stiff hairs standing upwards (or in this case standing downwards) from the seed heads. a delightful accident which i decided not to correct.
something new every day
i often find these shells on beaches when i am beachcombing, but never knew what they were until just the other day. they are the lids of sea snails–the little trapdoors that the snails pull shut when they feel threatened and retract. they’re called opercula.
gastropod opercula (sea snail trapdoors)
during our recent trip to chicago we went to the art institute to see a manet exhibit currently running there. in the last room was a tiny painting labeled simply “plums.” but like a Proustian madeleine moment, that painting brought our family back to a picnic by a spring in the mountains of the haut languedoc, where we sat at a table and ate greengage plums picked fresh and still sun warm from our neighbor’s orchard. the manet painting exactly captured their matte finish and whitish bloom, and their dull green color with little cinnamon and orange stains where they were just getting overrripe. they were, as a matter of fact, just about exactly the color palette of these yarrow fronds, and all i could do was stand and admire, both the plums, and the technique involved in bringing them to (still) life.
wild yarrow leaves
i did not fish these from our minnesota lake bottom. they are not exactly “natural objects found near me.” but they are beautiful, and they went extremely well with melted minnesota butter from hope creamery. please accept my (half-hearted) apologies for this non-minnesota wildlife.
king crab legs