under the canopy
we have a lot of pines in mjnnesota, and many of my walks pass through (under?) groves of 60 foot evergreens. so these fallen-then-caught-again pine needles on the bare branches of the understory frequently decorate my walks. i have been wanting to photograph them for a while–but it meant either grabbing my equipment and heading back to the trial i had just walked, or snipping a branch tip and then carrying it gingerly all the way back home. neither option is much fun, so i kept putting it off. it took the threat of coming leaf-out to break my procrastination. nothing like a non-negotiable deadline for motivation.
fallen pine needles caught on bare branch
turn towards the sun
rain last night. not snow. we are making progress. i heard sandhill cranes today. and red winged blackbirds. and some south facing hills are now bare. spring is arriving on it’s own internal clock. it’s reassuring to see these signs. this season of unlocking can be a tough one on us northerners who have been frozen for nearly 5 months. but look at those shadows! the sun is getting brighter every day. we are so close now…
winter wild sunflower stems in march sunlight
Oh! How beautiful! Yes, very satisfying shadows. Looks like a lot of black-eyed susans in the mix of stems. I do love your round compositions, MJ.reply
one, maybe two
i went down two rabbit holes today. the first was trying to identify these winter stems that i come across often, and who always catch my attention because of all that glorious texture. after several failed attempts, and a life-line call to a fellow local forager (who also failed), i finally found my answer–narrowleaf vervain. a common wildflower/weed of the central united states. whew. it shouldn’t be so hard to identify plants in their winter state. the second rabbit hole was much more abstruse. i am currently reading Jenny Odell’s new book Saving Time, Discovering Lief Beyond the Clock. last night while i sat by the fire reading, she made a brief mention of a french writer, Georges Perec, who coined the term infraordinary. She summarized his idea as such: “Media and the public perception of time, he wrote, focused on the extraordinary—things outside the ordinary, like cataclysmic events and upheavals. The infraordinary was, instead, that layer inside or just beneath the ordinary, and being able to see it involved the challenge of seeing through the habitual.” infraordinary! STILL is an exercise in seeing the infraordinary, i thought. common weeds, like vervain, aren’t even ordinary, they go so unnoticed that they become infraornindary. so this morning, i started googling “infraordinary” to see if it is a thing. it is. people know about the concept, but mostly in academia it seems, and maybe a few architects. and just out of curiosity, i went into OpenAI’s GPT-4 system to see if that could tell me anything more about infraordinary than i had learned doing my own research. whoa! was i blown away. freaked out, actually. i had an hour long, full on conversation, with GPT-4 about every aspect of infraordinary. it was like having lunch with someone who had done their dissertation on the concept. i learned which artists have applied the concept to their work, who the leading experts in the concept are today. we talked for an hour–me asking questions, and GPT-4 giving lucid, concise answers. that rabbit hole got a little too deep. i was so freaked out by how smart this system was, i had to go outside into the sunlight and shake it off.
p.s. i just spent 20minutes typing up my experience with GPT-4 today, and it just occurred to me…i could have asked GPT-4 to write the summary for me! 😳
narrow-leaf vervain in winter (verbena simplex)
let it shine
the light is changing. can feel the change in intensity? here in the north, this is the season of snow-blindness. while march is the cruelest month for sure, i do love the sound of tinkling meltwater. it is one of the most vivid memories of my childhood. i remember walking to the bus stop as a child, hearing the water running under the ice, and knowing that warm weather was just around the corner. ahhh, so much anticipation.
happy vernal equinox!
happy first day of astronomical spring everyone! (meteorological spring occurred on march 1st). can you feel the change in the intensity of the sunlight? i sure can. i suppose i should be commemorating the the equinox with something spring-like, or at least light saturated. but, instead i have for you oyster shells. i have two boys (my husband and my son) who adore oysters. so, last night we had a couple dozen oysters for our son’s last night home for spring break (he headed back to nyc this afternoon). after the boys ate their oysters, they then soaked the shells in gin overnight, in order to make an oyster-shell acquavit of sorts. the maceration worked well (the gin has a lovely mild brininess to it) and the oyster shells got lightly bleached in a way that emphasized their striated coloration.a win for STILL. a win for the boys. spring is here and everyone is happy!