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.

Week Five: never lose hope

29/365: wipeout


We finally got Sawyer and Zola out for their first ski lessons! They did great. Most of my pictures were boring snapshots of my kids making it down the hill. But this kid took a spectacular tumble at the bottom of the hill, giving me my favorite shot of the day. Of course he was undaunted and bounced back up for another run.

30/265: magnolia buds


Hope springs eternal. One of these days (and it won’t be long) there will be flowers again!

31/365: a time to sow


Milkweed is springing up in gardens all over the city. I’m encouraged by these efforts to help the monarchs and reminded of the collective power of our small, individual actions. Instead of wringing our hands, why not use them to plant seeds of change?

32/365: domestic jungle


Part of the ongoing ‘Peeping Terra’ series – photographs of other people’s windows. The light is so dramatic, I can’t resist! I find windows intriguing, too. In this liminal space, both public and private, what do we choose to conceal/reveal to the world?

33/365: basking/biding


This garden hose basking in the sun reminds me so much of a snake – body coiled, conserving energy until the moment of action arrives. I’ve been observing the steadfast quiescence of all things (objects & beings alike) in these dormant winter days, sensing energy stirring in anticipation as the sun begins to warm our skins once again.

34/365: like a hawk


I’m not a wildlife photographer and I don’t have a seriously long lens so when I have a picture like this it means I was REALLY CLOSE to this hawk! As I recall, I was griping about how ugly winter gets when there is no fresh snow and feeling grumpy about looking at the same old things and then this guy showed up. You just never know…

35/365: what so proudly we hailed


Zola’s after-school choir had the honor of singing the national anthem at the Timberwolves game the other night. All those fresh earnest faces and wide open hearts, so tiny at center court amid the basketball giants. Our hearts swelled with pride and, yes, HOPE.

Week Four: Land of the Ice & Snow

22/365: ice-cycle


This winter, in particular, has been a never-ending cycle of freeze and thaw. This weather is somewhat troubling and often frustrating. Tough to ski, skate and snow when it’s raining. But, it does create an interesting mix of sculptural forms: objects encased in ice, dangling droplets and reflective puddles like this one on top of Minnehaha Creek.

23/365: still life with silk daisies


One to add to my series of silk flower still lives viewed through windows. There is a magic that happens with the light that falls on objects just inside the window pane. It drops off dramatically, creating a perfectly black background like an old Dutch painting.

See also: Silk & Sunlight, Old Masters, and Something Old, Something New.

24/365: old news


All the new news is so horrifying these days. Every headline evokes an, “Oh, God, what now?” response in my head. Old news seems so much easier. The answers are there. We can’t do anything to change what happened. And we know that we survived it all…

25/365: prairie snow


The prairie flowers are an endless delight to me. They are particularly charming wearing their fresh caps of snow, all waving to me in unison as they sway in the winter wind.

26/265: dreamcatcher


Found art on our walk along the creek: a dreamcatcher woven in nylon string and hooped to an overhanging tree branch. With threads echoing the lines of the branches below, the web is poised to catch every passing wind, inviting the sweetest dreams to settle in among us.

27/365: brad’s-eye view


The U.S. Pond Hockey Championships are held every year in our neighborhood, just blocks away on Lake Nokomis. This year we enjoyed traversing the frozen lake to soak up the fresh air and true hockey spirit at the heart of Minnesota culture.

At 6’4, Brad typically has the best view of the action. But I get the best view of him.

28/365: game day


The second day at the tournament was overcast and gray but no less festive.

I have no skill for capturing the fast action of live sports but I do have a habit of photographing the photographers wherever I go.


Week Three: shadows, soup & surprises

15/365: self portrait silhouette


Caving to the irresistible urge to capture my own likeness in any shadow, reflection, or slice of a dull moment. It’s a subject that’s always available. When in doubt, self portrait.

16/365: peekaboo (allium seeds under snow)


As the snow melts, hidden treasures are revealed. This dried allium head appeared to have melted a tiny window around itself in order to have a look around.

17/365: evergreen


A contrast to the stark bare skeletons of the deciduous trees, this wall of juniper is like an arctic jungle teeming with writhing green vines. Green is a magnet to the winter eye.

18/365: shadow play part two: organic


The starkness of winter pairs well with the blinding sun, creating crisp, clean shadows all around. I love the visual echoes.The way the shadow imitates and distorts the original shape to make its own mark, stealing like an artist.

*Recommended Book: Steal Like An Artist, Austin Kleon.

19/365: shadow play part three: industrial


The empty bike rack near the beach formed geometric patterns of bricks and undulating steel in the January sunshine. All around the icy lake, the souvenirs of summer beckoned.

20/365: Soup for Andy


Totally random find. A can of Campbell’s tomato soup sitting on an empty bus bench. About 2/3 full…Couldn’t fathom the how/why of it but it made me want a grilled cheese with a cup of soup. And I can’t see a can of Campbell’s without thinking of Warhol.

21/365: eagle’s lunch


Another lucky find…these bald eagles were in full view. The juvenile was just hanging out but the adult was enjoying tearing apart the flesh of whatever vermin it grabbed for lunch.

When I was growing up, I never saw an eagle. Now it’s almost commonplace. It gladdens my heart and give me hope for other creatures to see how this species has rebounded.

And no matter how many eagles I see, I am always wowed.

Week Two: winter light

8/365: gathering


We followed the winding path into the darkness, braced against the frigid wind. Coming upon Munro’s installations of light and sound was like stumbling into an enchanted forest or sacred clearing.

Anything that lights up a winter night and sparks such a profound sense of wonder is well worth a little cold.

Bruce Munro, Winter Light at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

9/365: no place like home


I’m not much of an angler but I feel a sense of north country pride at the sight of the ice fishing houses on the lake. The practice is quintessential Minnesota hearty.

And the house is actually a luxury! Some days you see people just sitting out on the open, care ice, perched on a 5-gallon bucket. I admire the dedication to winter activities & the determination to get outside – no matter what. But I’d want the house.

10/365: waiting in the wings


Sometimes when I’m out walking, I take note of all the things – not just plants & animals – that are in a state of dormancy or hibernation. The effect of waiting it out seems even more pronounced and poignant when the items are blanketed by snow.

11/365: stars of tomorrow


The plants that produce and hold their buds all winter so as to be ready at the first blush of spring…I love those guys! We planted a magnolia last spring – I’m heartened every time I pass by and see those furry buds quivering in the arctic winds. The azaleas, too, are steadfast in their determination to shine at the slightest gust of balmy breezes.

12/365: where you least expect it


Thursday my mom & I went to see the Martin Luther exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a collection of art, documents and artifacts – many that had never been out of Germany before.

This odd-looking object was maybe the biggest surprise and stuck in my mind’s eye. It’s the type of hood/mask the doctor would wear to protect himself against infection when calling on plague victims. Imagine this wild, dark visage arriving to care for you in the throws of your illness! Dark ages indeed.

13/365: what you see


One game I play this time of year is a search for color in the landscape. Turns out, if you’re looking for it (like so many things in life) there is is. The rust-colored leaves that cling to the oaks, the many shades of evergreen, the subtle taupe of dried prairie stems, the silver-gray of the Russian and prairie sages. And then, of course, there’s the sky…

14/365: no shadows without light


The sunshine tells a story of darkness & light through shadows against the bright, white ground of snow. I can’t get enough of these painterly silhouettes, the graphic appeal of black on white, and the dramatic elongation of winter shadows in a northern clime.