“To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nature”

“My work has vitality because I have helped, done my part in revealing to others the living world about them, showing to them what their own unseeing eyes have missed . . . ”
Edward Weston, from Edward Weston: The Flame of Recognition edited by Nancy Newhall

“What is the spiritual life? . . . it’s often simply close observation of the things of this world with the imagination’s eye.”
— Adam Zagajewski, In Defense of Ardor

When I take the time to really look, I see such beautiful lines and patterns in nature.  I may not know the names of all of the plants and things I photograph, but I still appreciate their beauty!

New leaves cascade down thin calligraphic branches

Another budding bush

I like the lines of dark twigs which balance the roundness of the pale pink blossoms.

New leaves and catkins

New buds with Lomo-ish effect


Last season's leaves hanging like wet socks on a clothesline

“American beech leaves hang like socks on a clothesline, and they remain there, becoming almost translucent, until early spring.”
— Nancy Ross Hugo, Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees

Sometimes words are written so vividly that you can immediately hold an image of the subject in your mind’s eye.  That’s what happened when I read the passage above for the first time.  I liked the descriptive simile so much that I copied the words in my commonplace book.

Our Minnesota woods does not have American beech trees that I know of, but I did find other leaves hanging like wet socks on a clothesline.  They, too, were almost translucent in this late-winter season.

Leaves pegged to a woody clothesline

Lone leaf like an unmatched sock

Icy leaves before the thaw

Aged to translucence

New branches, like a row of Vs, grow on this maple tree

When I look for potential photographs, my eyes seek out patterns and composition.  Winter is a great time to look at the branching patterns of trees because their shapes are exposed and still free of foliage.

Cascading pattern of new branches with buds

Repeating branching pattern

These new branches stand like a row of prehistoric palm trees

An infinite variety of patterns in nature

Slushy When It’s Going

January 23, 2012

“Snow is snowy when it’s snowing,
I’m sorry it’s slushy when it’s going.”
— Ogden Nash

Melting snow droplets on branches

The melting snow looks particularly beautiful as sparkling droplets on tree branches.  Nature has decorated the branches with strings of clear, twinkling mini-lights like necklaces of strung diamonds.

Water droplets like strings of clear lights

Glowing with a halo of snow droplets

Melting snow

Twinkling droplets

Tree Watching in the Snow

January 22, 2012

Snow with catkins and curves

“All that summer conceals, winter reveals.”
—  Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker’s Creek

The leafless tree skeletons on winter reveal their unique branching patterns.  Trees have either “opposite” or “alternate” branching.  (You can learn more at this link.)

Maple trees in the snow

Tufts of snow caught on a maple branch

White web of snow caught in horse chestnut tree

“Every branch big with it,
Bent every twig with it;
Every fork like a white web-foot;
Every street and pavement mute . . .”
— Thomas Hardy, “Snow in the Suburbs”

Watercolor sketch of maple tree branching pattern

Weeping Willows

March 12, 2010

Slender branches of this willow hang like green tresses

Willow tree in spring

We used to have a weeping willow tree in our yard at the farm.  I remember playing under its long, hanging branches.  When I see willow trees, I am also reminded of a favorite childhood book, Blue Willow by Doris Gates, published in 1940.  My library still has a copy, so I reread it recently.  It’s about a young girl whose family has become one of the Dust Bowl migrant farmers.  I recommend it!

Doris Gates' novel