Being Independent Together December 12 2015

Just in time for the holidays, a photographic paraphrase of Hermey's invitation to Rudolph:  

Downtown Philadelphia, September 2015.

Rocks, Braques, and Time Travel November 18 2015

RIGHT:  A few short years ago, I saw this little oak leaf skittering across flat, wet rock at the top of a nearby waterfall.

LEFT:  A century before that, painter Georges Braque completed his cubist masterpiece, Violin and Candlestick

MIDDLE:  Like you, I had been a Doubter of Time Travel. But how else could a painter in 1910 have seen this photo from the future to copy it?

CONCLUSION: Time travel . . . There!  Is!  No!  Other!  Way! 


A Little Blue, a Little Wobbly October 26 2015

"Quiet but content" is how I saw this sturdy little tree in the topside world.

There it was, mid-week, minding its own business as it rose from the lake shore around sunset. Its dentist appointment wasn't until next Tuesday.

Seconds later, I turned and caught its reflection in the water: A little blue, a little wobbly, a little off-center. 

Who hasn't been there?


Courage in a Tiny Moss Roof September 04 2015

Dear mystery person who built this tiny woodland house at the base of an oak tree in an out-of-the-way place along the lake shore last week . . .  

Sticks. Stones. And -- for the love of all that's good in the world! -- you made a full, tiny roof out of moss. A roof. 

You give me courage.


Liver-Eating Aliens. Just One. In a "Leaf." August 27 2015

I've heard your complaints: Too much imagining of "things" in other things.

But come on . . . in what way is this NOT a space alien coming to eat your liver? 


Cicada Mandala June 12 2015

Where I live, a special brood of cicadas recently emerged after living 13 years underground. Thirteen! 

Given this hero's journey, it's no wonder that cicadas are symbols of hope, resilience, and new beginnings. You see now why I had to make this wing mandala1.

No cicadas were harmed in the making of this mandala. After meeting their fates at the paws of nature, they leave behind only these wings2 to admire.    

1  Mandala: A kind of meditative art based around the form of a circle, found throughout the world in ancient and modern cultures, most notably in Buddhist art and architecture.
2 Beyond their lacy beauty, cicada wings are incredibly rugged, with sturdy cross beams and high-tech ballistic glass between them.  

Building a Better Blossom? Stage Directions & Blueprints May 08 2015

If someone tried to hire me to design a new flower, here's what I would do:

With a mysterious smile, I'd slide their money right back across the table. Then I'd slowly reach under the table and pull out the old blueprints for this ancient columbine* blossom.

It wouldn't be an outright lecture about the folly of trying to improve on Nature, but they'd get the point. It's all pretty cinematic.   


* Aquilegia canadensis: This specific blossom above is from a friend's garden, but these wild columbines grow all around the Shawnee National Forest (and elsewhere) in late spring.

What Will Become of Me? April 28 2015 2 Comments

Looking to the sky, searching his soul, this shaggy dog pauses for spiritual reflection:

        "What will become of me during The Rapture?"

        "Have I not been devoted?"

        "Will there be peanut butter?"


The Dignity of Experience March 24 2015

It is the season for fresh, ephemeral spring wildflowers to pop up all along the forest floor. They're glorious.

But have you seen a more dignified seed pod at the end of winter . . . holding its head high, standing tall in the midst of treachery: spider webs, sleet, snow, hail, and kangaroos*  trying to bring it down?

* Kangaroo swarms: A grave and under-appreciated winter risk in Illinois.


Orange Is the New Contrail March 19 2015

You know those intense streaks in the sky often left by airplanes . . . "contrails"?

One night last week, conditions were just right* for these two to burn as bright, deep orange through the trees, as the sun had almost bid us adieu until morning.

* Note: Sunset-ish science here! You know you love science.


Cyanotyp-ish: From Ann to Anna March 16 2015

I know you're ready to party like it's 1799, because on this day, in that year, Anna Atkins came into the world. 

A mad pioneer, she combined her expertise in botany with a (literal and metaphoric) vision for how a new "making pictures with light" technology could help advance science. Welcome the cyanotype. Atkins was one of the first to publish a book of cyanotypic photograms, creating images of what any reasonable person would start with: British algae, of course.

I'm not a cyanotypist or a cyanotypographer . . . or really even a cyanotypophiliac.

Still, I wanted to honor Atkins today, so the image on the right is a simulated cyanotype effect of a shy little flower standing next to an oak tree in the woods today.


(On the left is just an inversion, because I'm kind of -- you know -- artsy that way.)

Map of the World March 12 2015

Last week, a storm swept through with artful ice to create a Hokusai-themed window. A few days later, in the wake of snow plowing, some nearby ice on a gravel road began to melt -- in a most uneven and untidy way.

This is exactly the kind of mess I can get behind.

Below are micro-remnants of that mess: A thin, lacy top1 layer of ice, with muddy gravel underneath. The cutout shapes were so, well . . . continental that I had to turn this into a real map2, with a quick switch-out of color.

1  Does that sound a little risqué?
2  Each blue continent is less than an inch (inch!) across.