charming charlatan

i was hiking off-trail today, and was so excited when i stumbled on a fresh green carpet of  these charming corrugated rosettes. a magical harbinger of spring. i came home and started googling, and what i found was not magical at all: what i had stumbled on was the persistent winter growth of garlic mustard, or, as it is referred to by the minnesota department of agriculture: a class a noxious weed. in other words, the nifty retro checkerboard floors in my new mid-century basement had just revealed themselves to be made of a very useful material, called asbestos.

garlic mustard leaves

lake vadnais, saint paul, minnesota

  • margie says:

    when we are craving green , ever noxious weeds look beautiful.

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grabbing a fistful of spring

we in the upper midwest like to brag about our four distinct seasons: our summers of endless lakeside twilight, our russet autumns full of bonfires and long hikes, and our frigid, beautiful winters. but here’s the truth. we don’t get much spring. sandwiched between ice-out on the lakes and the first farm reports complaining about too much heat and too little rain, there is a strobe flash of pussy willows, red-winged blackbirds, daffodils, and lime-greeen tufts at the tips of balsam branches. and then it’s gone, and everything is green until september. so this morning, i decided to grab a fistful of spring before it disappeared.

pussy willow (willow catkins)

lake vadnais, saint paul, minnesota

  • Traci says:

    so beautiful! this one reminds me of winter even though it’s about spring. here’s to spring.

    reply
  • Emmanuelle says:

    It’s quite the same here in Montréal :o) except I rarely get to the river in the Spring, so I am happy for this occasion to admire pussy willow up close – and what a gorgeous picture!

    reply
    • Thank You Emmmanuelle! What a treat to have you visiting STILL.
      I was just talking to my husband about how I had heard that one definition of a “bio-region” was a shared watershed. That would mean that Minnesota sits on two bio-regions: the Mississippi river watershed, and the Great Lakes watershed. And Montreal, on the Saint Lawrence river, would be part of the Great Lakes watershed. So, in a way, that makes us neighbors :-) Nice to meet you!
      Mary Jo

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i’m sorry, have we met before?

when i was at the universityof wisconsin-madison, this very good loooking guy introduced himself to me at the student union one sunny afternoon on the terrace. after 20 minutes of chit chat he revealed that we had been in the same physics class for a whole semester. and i had to admit i had never noticed him. it was an awkward moment.

that was how i felt today when i found this bittersweet vine. even though i was alone, i felt equally awkward. how in the world, after two plus years of doing still blog, with my eyes constantly peeled for anything interesting in my environment, could i have missed this?

american(?) bittersweet vine

lake vadnais, saint paul, minnesota

  • margie says:

    maybe it was saving its introduction for the end of this endless winter we have had this year.

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sigh.

this morning, the most spring-like in recent memory, the air was filled with the songs of cardinals , and robins, and canada geese, and the successive laying songs of several chickens, and the conk-a-ree of red-winged blackbirds, and the chiming trill of dark-eyed juncos. minus one.

dark -eyed junco

found under our window, saint paul, minnesota

  • Manisha says:

    I just noticed this little bird. It’s my first sight (the identification cards I keep in my kitchen was very helpful!) and now the bird has become my sign of spring. Despite your feelings of finding this bird under your window, I am grateful for the opportunity to get a closer look at it from your photo. Thanks!

    reply
    • We love juncos! I am guessing they will soon become one of your favorites too :-)

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  • Candice says:

    So handsome. Our juncos also have that pale pink beak.

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  • Kim says:

    So sad – close to 1 billion birds are killed by window strikes in North America every year. Especially night migrators like warblers flying through lit metropoli.

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