Nature photography from a woman in the woods


Pillow Fights? . . .


“There’s a double beauty whenever a swan Swims on a lake with her double thereon.” ~ Thomas Hood

This year, groups of swans have been hanging out at the lake in the little bay by my house.  The area is protected from the north winds and has a few islands of floating bog for them to walk on.  There is no doubt when they are visiting as they are quite noisy .. trumpeting, splashing and wing flapping.  Those huge wings make awesome sounds as they fly overhead, slide into the water on landing, or flap on the water when they take off .. it is amazing how those big birds fly.

The leftovers, feathers, that remain look like a pillow fight has taken place … and how they interact with each other, maybe they really do have pillow fights.  😉


The swan in the pool is singing,
And up and down doth he steer,
And, singing gently ever,
Dips under the water clear.
~ Heinrich Heine



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Looking Inside . . .

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
~ Albert Einstein

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
~ Henry David Thoreau



Looking into things, investigating, searching, finding a different perspective, shining a light through, …. sometimes it does not take imagination and fantasy so see things in strange new ways.

“Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”
~  Dr. Seuss

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Fireweed . . .



The flower showing off  in abundance this week is the fireweed.  A common late summer flower in Minnesota, it is flaming in the ditches everywhere (well, almost).  From a distances the flower groups do look like pink/purple flames blowing in the breeze.  Up close, they are delicate looking flowers that are a popular hangout for many honey bees, dragonflies, butterflies and other insects. (click images for full-sized version).  It grows best in areas that have been recently cleared or burned and it seems to thrive near areas of moisture found in the ditches along wooded roads.

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 Fireweed is the only type of fire Smokey Bear is okay with.  In honor of Smokey’s 70th birthday this weekend (August 9th)… Remember.

Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires!

The Wild Edible Race . . .

“I love berries. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, black berries,

anything with an ‘errie’ in it!” ~ Jordin Sparks



There are a several wild  foods out there in the summer woods that are worth waiting for, working to get, suffering bug bites for, and racing the critters to.

Above, is a picture of a hazel nut .. probably the hardest wild edible  to pick at just the right time.  If you pick too soon, they are green, bitter, mushy … icky.  If you wait too long, the squirrels get them all.  It seems the squirrels have a secret radar and know exactly the time/day of ripeness and they pick them all and stow them away fast.  When I see a squirrel picking them, I know I need to get out at that very  moment if I want a small handful of them … because they will probably all be gone by the next day.

And, then there are the berries.  In my opinion, the flavors of the wild variety of berries is 100% better than the tame/gardened varities.  The berries are smaller but the flavor is more intense.  After you have tasted wild berries, you will never enjoy the tame varieties as much.

Wild raspberries are turning pink and a few red ones can be seen.  These are the most abundant berries around my house and I usually do not have to race to get my share.  The squirrels, chipmunks and birds enjoy them .. so do the bears, but they do not come that close to my home.  Besides, there are plenty of them growing everywhere in the woods. Wild blueberries are the most precious to me .. I love them.  The plants had tons of green berries this Spring and I found a handful of blue ones this weekend, so the race to pick will begin.  In the wild blueberry world the race is not just against the critters, it is also a human race to get to the berries in all of our “secret” spots first.
raspb blueberries

The June berries are also ripe and ready to pick.  I am not sure why they are called June berries, because they are never ready to pick in June.  They are a lot like blueberries but grow on taller bushes.  I find their skins are a bit tougher than blueberries, but overall juicier.



Vetch . . . Also in Abundance

vetch1This is a wild flower called vetch .. there are a number of different varieties that grow in Minnesota.  I hear it is from the pea family and I am sure it has a more scientific species name, but I simply call it “the purple one”.  It is easy to find a yellow/white variety and a pink one in the area, also.  However, “the purple one” is growing like crazy this year.  It is everywhere, it’s colors seem extra bright, and they seem to be larger as there are more individual flower pods making up each grouping (maybe the brightness of color is due to the fact that we are still under cloudy gray skies most of the time).

Like the lady slippers, these flowers obviously like our wet conditions as they are flourishing, too. (click to see full-sized images)


** NOTE:  I found a “NEW” Wildflower yesterday … Well, new to me!   It is the Wood Lily!   If you would like to see my pictures of the bright orange Wood Lily, visit my home blog BEAR IN MIND and then take on my “NEW” Challenge!

The Ladies have Returned in Abundance . . .

hide:seekApparently, our rainy weather and wet ground are good growing conditions for our Fancy Pink Lady Slippers.  The ladies are flashing their beauty all over the woods this year, growing in abundance and popping up everywhere .. places where I have never seen them before.  (the pink “shoe part” is about 2 inches long).  Their fanciness is only on display for a very short week or two, so get out there and look a little closer at the ditches and edges of lakes, streams and rivers … you won’t have to search long to be rewarded with their gorgeousness.

Fancy Pink Lady Slippers are the State Flower of Minnesota, so it is illegal to pick them.  Since they are one of my favorite wildflowers and they only grow where they want to grow, I make a point to go out to visit them with my camera every year .. just sorry the sun was not shining this year to make them really brighten up the shot.  If you have not gotten your fill of this beautiful wild flower, here is a link to my post from last year which includes the story/legend of how they got the name lady slipper.  (link to last year’s post)


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