if the other three seasons are about color, then winter is about shape. a blanket of snow creates the perfect seamless-white background for these stalks and their whimsical shapes to stand out. so i went out hunting this weekend, with the weather temporarily above freezing, and here is my prey.
a collection of winter stems
rice creek regional trial, saint paul, minnesota
winter branch of a russian olive tree (elaeagnus angustifolia).
rice creek regional trail, saint paul, minnesota
carl linneaus himself named this plant because he thought it looked like andromeda. he was touring lapland at the time, and i was reading this and thinking perhaps he had gotten a little brain-freeze. but then i saw his journal sketch, et voilà, the resemblance is uncanny. you can see for yourself here.
bog rosemary (andromeda polifolia)
found in a peat bog in the chippewa nationa forest in north-central minnesota
i was going to try to cut this nest in half to see what a cross section might look like, and then I was going to try to peel it open like an onion. in the end, those both felt too destructive of such a delicate thing, so i contented myself with this little peek inside somebody else’s home. this nest was built with wasp saliva and wood fiber and it hummed all summer long, in an oak overhanging our driveway, as clouds of busy workers clocked in and out.
paper wasp nest from a large oak tree overhanging our driveway
saint paul, minnesota