Week 18: city life

Playing catch-up on the blog from a time in spring when life was exploding all around.

Photos taken April 30-May 6

120/365: deer on pike island


Rocco’s ears perked up and we knew there was something to see in those woods. Suddenly the white tails were bouncing through the trees. Since we were hiking the perimeter of the island, we had another chance to see them. They didn’t disappoint.

121/365: everything in bloom


When the flowering trees are in bloom, the abundance is beyond reason. It’s like living in a cloud of fragrant blossoms. Paradise on earth.

122/365: wild ginger


A plant I enjoy for its lush, heart-shaped leaves as well as the secretive position of its flowers. Unlike most plants, wild ginger completely obscures its flowers beneath its plentiful leaves. You have to be in the know (and squat down low) in order to get a glimpse of the flowers. Positioned near the ground, they attract small pollinators who may mistake them for rotting flesh.

Read more about Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense): https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/asarum_canadense.shtml

123/365: flower folklore


Years ago I read that ants were essential partners, helping peony buds to open into blossoms. As it turns out, the ants are there for a sugary snack and the peony doesn’t need them at all except maybe to fend off other pests. I liked the old story better.

124/365: turtle crossing


We encountered this baby snapping turtle smack in the middle of the walking path around Lake Nokomis. Afraid that someone might step on him by accident, I carefully moved him to the water’s edge. He was no bigger than the palm of my hand.

125/365: showstopper


Japanese maples generally get my attention but this one was truly owning the spotlight of sunshine, a garden diva stealing the show.

126/365: bright lights, big city


I love city life. The diversity, arts & culture, great restaurants. But what I love most about Minneapolis is the proximity to green space, lakes & rivers, hiking trails and wildlife right outside out door.

Kayakers on Minnehaha Creek (2 blocks from our house).



Week 16: Magic All Around Us

106/365: Glowing Green


One of the magical sights in spring is the supernatural glowing chartreuse of young leaves spotlighted by sunlight.

107/365: Under the Canopy


Willows capture my heart 365 days a year. They are always up to something beautiful. Sculptural in winter, aglow in spring, and again in fall. But in summer – dancing and swaying in the breeze, forming romantic little spots for disappearing into a dream.

108/365: Saved by the Slinky


I was all tucked in, reviewing the day and sinking into sleep when I realized that I hadn’t taken a photo all day. I was so tired as I forced myself out of my cozy bed, the sight of the kids’ new Slinky – fresh from the Easter basket – was as welcome as water in the desert.

109/365: Urban Wildlife


The rabbits have become as ubiquitous as the squirrels, as nearly as unwelcome (at least during garden season). But this one was as adorable as any Beatrix Potter invented and he posed just as pretty as…a picture 🙂

110/365: Spring Rain


One of the ordinary, everyday things that is positively enchanting every time: leaves and petals adorned with raindrops – globular and glistening like orbs of of looking glass.

111/365: lake country


A project I’m considering – photos of all the city lakes without any landmarks. Portraits of the lake comprised of only water, wind and light. This is Lake Nokomis.

112/365: nothing but miracles


I have always loved moss but in the last year I had the distinct pleasure of learning more about this diminutive botanical powerhouse from Robin Wall Kimmerer. I haven’t had a chance to read, Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses yet, but I highly recommend listening to her interview with Krista Tippett.

Here’s a taste:

‘Mosses are not good competitors at all, and yet they are the oldest plants on the planet. They have persisted here for 350 million years. They ought to be doing something right here. And one of those somethings, I think, has to do with their ability to cooperate with one another, to share the limited resources that they have, to really give more than they take. Mosses build soil, they purify water, they are like the coral reefs of the forest, they make homes for this myriad of all these very cool little invertebrates who live in there. They are just engines of biodiversity. They do all of these things, and yet, they’re only a centimeter tall.’

Week Fifteen: Spring Flowers, Spring Bird

We reach a point in early spring when I become utterly distracted by FLORA. With rare exception, my vision narrows somewhat & I lose focus for all but spring flowers.

You’ll forgive me, won’t you?

99/365: lone tulip with weeds


A forgotten stand of tulips in among the weeds like a misplaced beauty queen.

100/365: urban loon


The common loon is our state bird in Minnesota. But, while common on northern lakes, you almost never see them in the city. Occasionally, they make fleeting cameo appearances on Lake Nokomis as they migrate north and they always steal the show.

101/365: pasque flowers emerging


I look for this stand of pasque flowers to emerge in early spring. They seem to appear one day from nothing, covered in soft downy hairs that catch every drop of sun.

102/365: outdoor living


These cheerful yellow chairs struck me. They seemed a little out of place in the drab surroundings. But when they appeared at the first hint of spring, they spoke of a universal imperative to get outside. To sit in the world & drink it all in.

103/365: forsythia

forsythia 01

I do believe I prune the buds off our forsythia every year and miss having my own yellow cloud. Happily, my neighbors aren’t so foolish.

104/365: weeds are flowers too

3 dandelions

More yellow flowers. The dandelions remind me of childhood and simple joys. Zola makes bouquets and braids their stems and delights in their abundance.

Deep inside, I know these feelings, too.

105/365: world in bloom

trees in bloom

A riot of life unfolding, awakening, celebrating. All senses are alive, bombarded with color, the feel of the sun and the breeze and the sweet perfume of flowers everywhere.

Week 14: Spring Stirring/Shock of Green

92/365: wild geese in flight


Because if I include this photo, I can invite you to read one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets: “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver. It is so full of understanding.

Bonus –  Listen to this On Being interview with Mary Oliver from October, 2015.

93/365: green in the garden


One of the things I look for every spring and a sure sign that spring has arrived: the chives in the garden. Hope! There will be fresh produce & herbs soon.

94/365: perpetual astonishment

fresh foliage

In spring, every weed, bud and leaf is a miracle.

I greet them all with enthusiasm. Long lost friends, every one!

“Every spring is the only spring, a perpetual astonishment.” – Ellis Peters

95/365: enter verdure


The landscape becomes tinged with green. It’s so subtle in early spring – and yet, anything outside the brown/gray/white palette is shocking at first .

Then, before you know it, you look around and the green has TAKEN OVER.

Then it all seems like some magic spell. As if we’d all been asleep and awakened into a beautiful springtime dream.

96/365: do you believe in magic?


We got to see “Mythical Creatures” at the Science Museum of Minnesota over spring break. The exhibition detailed the folklore & fantasy behind these creatures as well as the theoretical, fact- based explanations behind everything from cyclops to dragons.

97/365: sunshine on the water

sunlight on the water

When the sunlight sparkles across the surface of the lake like diamonds dancing across the water, I can’t help but smile. There’s something to be said for this clear view of the world, in early spring, before it’s all enveloped & obscured by lush, green foliage.

98/365: urban nature


While I would gladly escape to wilder, more remote places more often, I am grateful to have so much nature just beyond our South Minneapolis doorstep. This image expresses the balance in my life between two of my great loves: nature time and city living.

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge overlooking the Cedar Avenue bridge.

Week 13: nostalgia & discovery

85/365: last year’s tails


This is visually so gorgeous to me. So spare. And I love the color of the water.

But, then, I always love a play on words. Last year’s (cat)tails become the old story. The tales of 2016 fade and decompose before our eyes as we await the debut of the new.

86/365: new growth


One of the first buds to emerge every spring, the elderberries simply enchant me! They have their own drama, too. Unfurling like a big stretch, then revealing violet buds.

87/365: stalking spring flowers


I’ve memorized certain spring flowers and other garden highlights in my near neighborhood (where most of my photos originate). So, when I started itching for something fresh and new, I went in search of the squill. I found them just peeking out and went belly-first on the ground to greet them…

88/365: accidental art


This is the type of image I swooned over in my very early years as a photographer. Lovely found compositions created by erosion, mess, error.

I was delighted to discover a new edition to this collection – this time, a product of water damage on the paper lining a vacant shop window. I couldn’t paint anything better.

89/365: big sky, open road


As much as I love the city, it is exhilarating to hit the road and go someplace new. Even if it’s only somewhere Up North. Fresh scenery, a change of pace. It helps us to be present.

90/365: wayfinding


Hiking is one of my favorite things in the world. Hiking with my favorite people takes it to a whole other level. Someday, Sawyer & Zola will be ready to tackle the big hikes. For now, we manage to discover something in every hike – from our own mettle to our powers of observation – and, ALWAYS, the wonder & beauty of the world.

91/365:  1,000 in a land of 10,000


A view of Lake Mille Lacs as we headed home, still covered in ice but with puddles forming to reflect the sky. I couldn’t stop prompting everyone to look again (and again) as the miles passed, to appreciate the vastness of this lake. That’s STILL the lake!

‘Mille” in French is 1,000. This lake truly embodies 1,000 lakes or more. Such power and awe in its presence. You can just make out the far shore but it may as well be an ocean.

Week 12: American Dreamer

So, a couple things before the pictures.

This year I’m trying out a weekly dispatch format on the blog instead of the daily post. When I made that decision, it mostly had to do with respecting the inbox load of the many people who get an email EVERY TIME I post.

Interestingly, though, the weekly dispatch has shaped the blog differently.

I still go out and shoot pretty randomly every day (as I always have). But, when it comes time to select images and put the post together, I find myself looking for a theme or common thread. Sometimes it’s more abstract than others. Other times it just isn’t there.

At first, I resisted this curatorial urge. I wanted to choose the best photo for that day without considering the relationships between images.

Now, though, I’m enjoying what the process reveals. From visual themes to sub-conscious thought streams, I never know whether or how the images might make sense together.

78/365: road trip


The quintessential vision of freedom and the good life. A big old car and the open road.

79/365: in living color


We always have the power to speak, to create, and to reinvent ourselves (individually and collectively).

80/365: reinvention

online_buckle up

It’s a rocky ride sometimes. Hang on. Don’t quit. Change the message when necessary.

81/365: broad stripes & bright stars


We are a young country. Growth spurts can be ugly. Awkward. Evan painful. Everything is temporary. I have to believe that our true spirit will eventually shine through.

82/365: self portrait (sunshine & rain)


I stepped outside just as the raindrops started falling, only to discover Zola’s big, cheerful chalk drawings on the sidewalk. I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day, for sure.

83/365: white picket fence


Battered, not broken.

84/365: seeds of tomorrow


From Thoreau: I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders. 

week eleven: late winter

71/365: snow


Snowfalls have been so few and far between this winter that this one felt strange and magical – like the first snow all over again.

72/365: tracks


How a fresh blanket of snow provides a welcome change of scenery! A clean slate –  it keeps a  perfect record of animal comings and goings, displays fallen leaves like precious artifacts and even traces the movement of the wind.

73/365: woods

online_late winter wood with blue sky sq

An apt expression of this moment between seasons. The landscape, reduced to winter’s weathered remnants, colored by the growing warmth of the sun and a hint of blue sky.

74/365: robin


The first robin of spring is always a cause for celebration! This one showed up a few days early and couldn’t be more welcome.

75/365: color fields


I’m more apt to see landscape in terms of Abstract Expressionism than Romanticism. I can’t help but see this landscape as primarily bands of texturized color, all stacked up.

76/365: pods

online-wild indigo pods

Only a few seeds left to rattle free of their brittle pods and stiffened stalks. The whole world is thirsty for a shot of spring’s green juice 🙂

77/365: ice

online_ice waves 01 sq

Was the ice always so fascinating and beautiful? It’s like falling in love with the boy next door…

Temperatures flirting with the freezing point form rivers above the ice and freeze windswept waves into ridges. All the while, the lake (being a lake) reflects the color of the sky: true blue.


Week Ten: Geometry

64/365: the shape and relative arrangement of the parts of something


Contrasts: randomness and regularity; opaque and transparent, earthy brick and shiny glass. I look so much at natural forms that the shock of a straight line catches my eye.

65/365: diamonds in the rough


There is something perpetually nostalgic about a backstop. Just a bit of chainlink and a patch of gravel calls up memories of kickball, childhood and an idea of a simpler time.

66/365: water sign


I don’t know. It just struck me.

67/365: sunshine daydream


A dreamy scene for my window theme made magical by a distant sunlit curtain. I love the way  the space is compressed and flattened in a play between transparency and reflection.

68/365: starshine

online030917-single reed ice reflection texture

One of the coolest ice formations yet – I liked it SO much that it beat out the red-tailed hawk close-up of I took on the same day! It’s not clear to me how these ice stars formed around the reeds, whether they are an accumulation or a remnant, but I love their sparkle.

69/365: ice worlds


OK, I take it back. THIS is one of the coolest ice formations yet!

The churning flow of open water generated this sea of tiny bubbles. Then the frigid air flash froze them in time and space like an infinite field of stars in a thin, galactic slice.

70/365: full moon rising


I rushed out with my camera before the last of the light disappeared. I only had a few moments to take pictures. I only needed one.



Week Seven: Theme & Variation

Follow my Instagram feed for more daily photos: https://www.instagram.com/terrarathai/

43/365: the leaves and the ice #1


The cycle of freeze and thaw creates layers of objects and air bubbles.

Moments frozen in time, yet constantly evolving.

44/365: the leaves and the ice #2


The ice itself holds fascination. So many variations. Ways and states of being.

Milky, slushy, rough, pitted. Glassy, smooth, black, fissured. Transparent or opaque.

Becoming. Shifting. Disappearing.

45/365: (power) line drawing


I’m always playing with shadows and my (not-so-secret) fantasy of being a painter. It took photography to make me truly fall in love with abstraction. Stripped of color, the subtle beauty and variation of lines, the relationships between elements is everything.

So much to see in so little.

46/365: heat seeking vision #1


Like an invitation to a nap. This blanket, folded in the afternoon sunshine reminds me of the power of something soft and cozy to soothe our chilly souls and the intense warmth that can be found in a sunny spot this time of year.

47/365: heat seeking vision #2


I’m delighted by warm colors in the landscape when the air is thin and everything is grayish. That sunshine spotlight bronzes the rusty leaves and warms our collective bones –  gaining momentum as we creep toward the vernal equinox.

48/365: things that fall on frozen lakes #1


The ice begins to thaw on the lake. Branches and leaves leave their own self-impressions as they sink in to the surface. Riddled by cracks, the vast expanse is dotted now with pock marks from so many feet and the healed-over scars of occasional ice fishing holes.

49/365: things that fall on frozen lakes #2


Softer impressions made by the long shadows of trees across a frozen pond.

It all comes full-circle. The sun and the shadows. Compositions made from the beautiful simplicity of light and line. The cycle of everything as it comes and goes and comes again.

Somehow, always new.

Week Six: fake spring and slim pickins

36/365: throw me a bone (or something)


This dried flower bunch reminded me of an animal poking its nose through the fence, looking for a handout. I feel a little like that as winter drags on…pretty sunlight today, but the drab is getting the best of me. Wishing it would snow.

37/365: the love that surrounds us


All together now: love, love, love.

It’s all we need. It will keep us together. And we’ve got to let it rule.

38/365: this and that (gingko leaf & pinecone)


There are some natural forms that ape each other or look like distant cousins. Not these two. They are utterly, unmistakably themselves.

39/365: the long and short of it


The days are getting longer. The sun, warmer. Part of what I love about living in a four-season climate is the anticipation and the agony. There is always something changing and something to look forward to. The boredom with the long winter only makes the glory of spring that much sweeter. And in the heat of summer, I sometimes dream of snow.

40/365: micro/macro cosmos


This is, without a doubt, my favorite image of the week. It speaks of timeless questions and boundless imagination. The vast and invisible. Time. Space. Energy. Metamorphosis.

41/365: festive/false


I hate to be a downer but this heat wave is alarming.

Sure, it feels good to wear a t-shirt in February in Minnesota. But. on the other hand, what does it mean? Anomaly or undeniable evidence (as if we need more)?

Furthermore, I like winter…

42/365: don’t be fooled


In the short term, I’m concerned for the flora. Too many warm days in a stretch send the wrong signals. I’d hate to see the plants wake up too soon, only to freeze in the inevitable March snow.

It’s nice to feel warm again, but I’ll happily wait until spring, for spring.