Take a walk on the wild side

I had a wild weekend. Not in the “Dad, can you please post my bail?” kind — more in the John Muir sense:

Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green deep woods. Here grow the wallflower and the violet …

On Friday evening I strolled through the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden,  which opened unusually late this spring due to our unusually late winter.

It looked drab an uninviting at first, until I noticed a group of colorfully clad children clustered around my favorite tree.


Butler drab 1850967 BLOG

Even as the fall leaves still clung to their branches, new siblings were being born.


Butler leaves 1860059 BLOG

The bloodroot flowers seemed almost bashful about revealing themselves, like divas shrouded in velvety green robes.


White robe 1860370 BLOG

And from among the forest’s brown understory the tender fiddleheads were starting to emerge.

Butler ferns 1860277 BLOG

Some people harvest the young ferns and sautée them in butter, but I couldn’t stand the thought once I noticed the delicate young leaves. (Plus, harvesting plants is forbidden in the park.)

Butler young fern 1860244 BLOG

I couldn’t identify this prehistoric-looking plant, though. Can any of my gardener friends out there help?

Some kind of wort 1860339 BLOG

Sunday brought my first walk of the season around Como Lake, which was considerably more colorful thanks to some creative soul with way too much time — and yarn — on his/her hands.

Como yarn maypole 1870215 BLOG

I also loved the new critter condos, with platforms for nests and holes for insects and slats for bats. Talk about communal living!

Como critter condo 1870198 BLOG

Unfortunately, the wildlife itself seemed rather scarce. I surveyed only one woolly bear caterpillar

Wooly caterpillar 1870026 BLOG

… a muskrat that left an outsize wake as he hurried to shore …


Como lake muskrat 1870110 BLOG

… a photobombing great heron …


Como heron 1870208 BLOG

Como heron close-up 1870208 BLOG

… and a juvenile bald eagle plucking a catfish out of the lake.


Como juvenile eagle 1870124 BLOG

The eagle was HUGE — at least 100 times the size of an Airbus A-320, as you can see in this photo.

Como juvenile eagle 1870118 BLOG

But maybe the most satisfying wild moments came from wandering around my own neighborhood, buzzing like a bumblebee from yard to yard.

Sunlit shrub diffused 1860803 BLOG

Sedum diffused 1860931 BLOG

Some of the flowers were still barely emerging.

White crocuses 1860933 BLOG

Yellow crocuses 1850594 BLOG

Bluebell 1860699 BLOG

But others were starting to fade already.

Blue blooms 1860635 BLOG

Which made me all the more glad I’d stopped for a closer look, and that I’d noticed the variety of species that hide inside those blankets of blue.

Bluebells 1850495 BLOG

Blue blooms P1860609 BLOG

Blue blooms 1850645 BLOG

Blue blooms 1860646 BLOG

Blue flower 1850914 BLOG

Crocuses 1860811 BLOG

Some kind of wort 1860781 BLOG

On Saturday morning two maniacs decided to use our neighborhood as a racetrack, so I fled into to woods to escape the revving engines and squealing tires.

Woods 1860686 CC BLOG

That’s how I met Owen Wilson (the dog, though I suppose he might also be an actor).

Owen Wilson 1860765 BLOG

I could ramble on about the fleeting beauty of spring in Minnesota and the repose of the green deep woods … but I’ll leave you for now with a couple more moments of quiet reflection from my weekend walks on the wild side.

World in a drop lighter 1860737 BLOG

Birch bark 1850550 CL BLOG

Sunset 1860506 BLOG


    • I was quite smitten with that critter house too — isn’t the design both clever and beautiful? Thank you for making my WEEK with your kind words, Marcus!

    • Thank you, Suzanne! It’s not as warm yet as your beautiful Morocco, but we’ll get there. 🙂

    • I am SO HONORED that this post inspired you to slow down and get out too, Margaret! Thank you for making my week with your kind comment.

  1. I am so happy Spring has finally graced Minnesota. What beautiful pictures! I loved the “Critter Condos!”What a neat idea and as always your pictures are absolutely stunning, especially that last one! You truly did have a “Wild” weekend, one that perfectly captured and signified warmer days ahead! ❤

    • Thank you so much, dear Kate! You sure know how to make a gal’s day with your kind words. 😉 And here’s to warmer days ahead — I finally did my pedicure this weekend, too! No photos of *that,* though. LOL.

      • You are so welcome hun! Awe I am glad! Yes! I am so excited! And oooo fun! Lol. I do not blame you! Some things don’t need to be photographed….Actually can we go back to Winter, I don’t think my feet are fit to be seen! :p ❤

  2. Gorgeous shots–so glad Spring has arrived in the Midwest. The photo of the woods is enchanting!

    • How wonderful to see you here, Roberta! I’m very partial to those woods myself. They’re not the most beautiful in Minnesota by a very long shot, but they still have a special magic to them. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  3. What a change from one post to the next 😀 Minnesota spring is popping up like mad. I dare say, you’re a couple of weeks ahead of us. Pussy willows are just now being followed up by hints of green here. Given how much cold and snow we had, it seems rather dry right now. June is the rainy month here. We’re just too far North for April showers :/ So it’s June Showers bringing June and July Flowers . My favourite time in the garden is actually the end of June. Especially in my old garden which had many long established perennials. I had a humongous bleeding heart. Not the size of a that eagle though, LOL! What a great shot.
    I really enjoyed all your photo’s but found a favourite. The magical forest path where you may meet up with a ukulele playing troubadour or juggler on their way to their next act. Well, that’s what my mind conjured up at first glimpse. I had no idea that Great Heron’s had such a crazy looking crown of feathers. We’d see Herons at the lake here, but they were Blue Herons and their crowns were generally slicked back, Elvis style 😀 x K

    • The image your mind conjured of that forest path made me laugh. Now I shall be on the lookout for a ukelele-playing troubadour every time I venture into those woods, LOL! Also love that you too had a giant bleeding heart in your old garden. Mine were so enormous — even after multiple splittings — that they obscured the entire northen side of my old house. Hmmm. Now you’ve made me curious to drive by the old place and check them out. 😉 As for that crazy-looking heron: I had no idea their crest did that either! It’s the first time I’ve ever seen one shake its head, and everything kinda went flying. One of the highlights of my weekend, to be sure … because I’m weird that way. Well, thank you as always for your wonderful comment. You are A JOY! xx

    • Thank you, Mark. That’s an enormous compliment, coming from a guy who has inspired me to utter a thousand “wows.”

  4. Great pictures and a fine example of mindfulness. My brother in AZ gave me a tip about how he hikes: “Walk a mile in an hour.” He said it was amazing what he sees when he slows down. Can’t wait to try it soon.

    • Your brother did indeed give you and excellent tip, Tom — maybe not for completing a marathon, but certainly for appreciating your surroundings. If you want to go to Eloise Butler in a week or two, we can walk very slowly indeed and see if we can spot an elusive lady slipper or two!

  5. Hello! I always enjoy reading your posts and seeing your pics! That one of the water drop on the end of a blade of grass, though? Divine perfection! I could stare at it all day. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • How very kind of you to say, Tasha … thank you! If you ever want a print of any of my photos, just let me know and I’d be glad to send one (or many!) out. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  6. I was also very surprised over the heron. It looks really crazy and it can actually be quite dangerous with the long pointed beak. But of course it must feel threatened or pushed to pose a danger to humans. The eagle is glorious ❤ Do you think I can book a seat? 😉 🙂
    Wonderful post, Heide ❤

    • Yes, Hanna — you’re right about the heron! I used to be a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and we had to wear full safety gear when we went in the large aviary because of those pointy beaks. I never got attacked, though, because the herons knew I had the fish. 😉 And wouldn’t it be truly glorious to be able to take an eagle ride? Thank you for stopping by, and for your sweet comment. ❤️

  7. I often go on treks expecting and wanting to see the larger flora and fauna, but it is really these delicate almost hidden details that end up filling me with delight and wonder. Love your capture of the delicate fiddleheads and that irrepressible caterpillar!

    • You have said it so beautifully … it really *is* the almost-hidden details that make these treks worthwhile. Thank you so much for stopping by, and especially for your kind words.

    • What a sweet comment, Diane — very well put! Thank you for stopping by. It’s always so lovely to hear from you!

    • What a kind compliment, Jim … thank you! I shot a lot of these with my little 20mm f/1.7 prime lens, which really does deliver stunning color.

  8. Heide, this is such amazing photography and I love the story that goes with it. Thank you for sharing. Your photography and words are an inspiration. Thank you.

    • I’m thrilled you found something of value here, Simon. Apart from “meeting” lovely people like yourself, the exchange of ideas and inspiration is one of the things that makes WordPress so special. But I can’t thank you enough for your kind words.

      • Hi Heide, Thank you, you are welcome, it’s great to meet such lovely people like yourself too.
        It’s amazing how small the world can be through sites such as WordPress.
        I truly enjoy seeing your part of the world through your photography and words.
        Have a great day.

  9. Quite beautiful. The “prehistoric” plant: I have no idea what it is, but for some reason it reminds me of “Journey to the Centre of the Earth”.
    Nice joke about the “gigantic” eagle; the eagle is simply much closer to the camera than the plane. It’s good to laugh.
    I liked the decorated lamppost.

    • You’re right! I was trying to figure out what that flower reminded me of — and for sure it’s the giant boring mechanism in “Journey to the Centre of the Earth.” Thank you for that. And thank you also for laughing at my silly joke! It is indeed good to laugh. Have a wonderful day, and thanks so much for stopping by!

      • Giant boring mechanism? Sorry, I’ve only ever seen the 2008 version of “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” starring Brendan Fraser. It sort of reminded me of the giant and unusual plants in the centre of the earth. Now that you mention it, they DO resemble the boring mechanism in “Larry-Boy and the Rumor Weed”.

  10. Those are some beautiful pictures. I especially liked the one of the drop of water and the blue flowers. I also liked the decorated lamppost. Like the eagle and plane joke. LOL. And the picture capture of the sunset is gorgeous.

    • I’m so glad you liked so many of these photos, Racheal! It’s an honor to be able to share what I find beautiful with you. Thank you for stopping by, and especially for taking the time to leave a comment.

  11. I am very impressed with your photography. I also connect with your assessment of how palpable a walk in the woods can be. Years ago, in the army, I was absolutely famous for disappearing from the squad, and wandering off into the woods. I’ve spent much of my life wandering in the forest. Mostly, I absolutely love the Heron. I’m essentially jealous of the precise weapon he was given. What a spear. Great blog.

    • How funny that you were known by your Army cohorts for disappearing into the woods, Mark. It’s not a bad strategy for survival (and mental health), actually — and I can think of no better way to spend much of one’s life than wandering in the forest. As for that heron: They are indeed formidable hunters. I used to be a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and had to wear full protective gear whenever I was caring for one of those guys. But I digress. What I really want to say is thank you for stopping by, and especially for your kind comment.

    • @Mark; had to read that several times. I too was one to get ‘lost’ in the woods. When I was in 3rd class (ca 8 1/2-9yrs old) we had a ‘orientation run’ and teams of 2 were left loose with plans to where we had to assemble again after our ‘tour’. We were NOT to separate at any cost….
      First thing ‘my team’ did was split up because I just couldn’t agree to my ‘co-path-finder’…. I was found by the police at 6pm some 6-8km away from where we should have been found and I was by that time pretty cold in my shorts and t-shirt…. 🙂
      I am VERY careful now with ‘disappearing’ but still appreciate walking in the woods 😉

      • Oh, Kiki … you and I are two birds of a feather (though we must never wander into the woods together!). I’m glad your “off-road” adventure turned out OK. It’s too bad they didn’t give prizes for longest distance walked, because by that score you would have been a winner for sure. 🙂

        • I must say I DO LOVE your conception of giving out prizes… 😉 That was btw the only time in my whole life I had any serious business with the police. And all that with tiny shorts on and I was so scared that even all my golden locks were wet with my tears by the time I got picked up….

          • What a sad image that conjures, Kiki — your locks all wet with tears! I’m glad it turned out alright, though … and even happier it was the only time you ever had serious business with the police. 🙂 xx

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Thank you so much for stopping by, and especially for taking the time to comment!

  12. I do enjoy your pictures…..I’ve missed them during my enforced absence of leisure time!
    Is your prehistoric plant a fern that has been wrapped up by a fungi?
    And I like the wooly guy 🙂

    • Jeff!! How wonderful to “see” you here again — I missed you! I’ll head over to your blog in just a moment to see what you’ve been up to (and very much hope all has been well). I still have no idea what that prehistoric plant might be, though I’m pretty sure we can rule out a fern only because I used to have a huge fern garden in my yard with a zillion different species and none of them looked even remotely like this. But maybe the next time I visit Eloise Butler I’ll show one of the docents my photo and inquire. As for the woolly guy … he was my favorite too. It’s the first time I’ve gotten close enough to see how shiny their little heads are! He reminded me of a very hairy little astronaut with his helmet. 🙂 Anyway. Thank you so much for stopping by, and welcome back!

  13. wow, that seems like a nice weekend indeed 🙂 love your photos! it feels like i got to see the plants and the scenery in real life i love it ❤

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Sirena … it’s the highest compliment when someone says they felt like they were right there with me. 🙂 I very much appreciate your stopping by, and especially taking the time to comment. xx

  14. Such great photos captured, organized into a visual story, and shared “) I love appreciating all four seasons and how as they turn over, we’re reminded of different aspects of life and living. Thank you for spring post!

    • The seasons remind me of the different stages of life, too, Lara — and right now it’s all about newfound energy and possibilities! Though mostly I’m just excited it doesn’t hurt to go outside anymore. 🙂 Thank you so much for stopping by, and for your kind and insight words. xx

  15. Heide, I really missed you but was busy with being away, seeing family, travelling, garden… But now I’m back and I admit being totally in awe by your discoveries AND your takes. What magnificent beauties you’ve captured. Not only the very tiny ones but also the incredible fierce looking heron and the incredible eagle. You got the size-perspective so totally right the first time – it’s a hoot and gr8 fun!

    Now to the bloodroots. The reason for its name is the following Its name however describes the bright red underground stem and root system. When cut open, the roots ooze or “bleed” a potent red-orange sap, which is said to stain anything it touches. The scientific name Sanguinaria canadensis also refers to Bloodroot’s sap. Sanguinaria (Latin) means bleeding. We knew, as children, to pay attention to not get their sap on our hands and faces because we plucked them and brought them home from the woods. We called them (in Swiss German) coucoo flower because they flowered when the coucoos were calling in the trees 🙂

    I have tons of ferns in my garden and this will be one of the things I shall thoroughly miss once the house will be sold. EVERY winter I can’t believe that the dried back brown mess will develop WITHIN DAYS from ‘dead leaves’ to the most wonderful deep green beauties they become. I must have tons of those rolled up heads and have been watching them unfurl within minutes when the weather was right for them.

    Of course, our spring is much, much more advanced, although having said that we are in the midst of the coldest spell I’ve encountered in my 10yrs in France. In Switzerland we call these 3 days ‘Cold Sophie’ and people are ‘warned’ not to plant anything outside until the 3 sisters were done with…. Not so in France; everybody has planted their summer flora already, geraniums, daisy ‘trees’, whatever, the roses are out, tulips, bluebells, forget-me-nots, lilac & likes all gone for weeks already…. ENJOY those precious days, you merited them with all the frost, snow, cold you endured!

    • Kiki! I missed you too (I really was asking myself the other day where you had disappeared to). So glad to hear that it was for fun reasons.

      Thank you very much for your petite leçon on the origins of the name “bloodroot.” I suspected something along those lines but had no idea you actually had *hands-on* experience! No surprise, I suppose, as I imagine you to be a prodigious gardener.

      Speaking of which … don’t fret too much about leaving your beloved gardens behind (other than hoping the new owner will tend to your beloved ferns, I suppose). I’ve been surprised by the number of neighbors and community gardens that have accepted my help, and am happy to report that my nails are grubby with dirt even as I type this.

      It’s wonderful too to hear that spring is finally making its way to France too. After the winter we’ve all had I can’t really blame people for planting their geraniums and daisies … if I had a garden I would be risking the frost too just out of desperation for a bit of color.

      Well, thank you so much for stopping by and for your lovely comment. xx

  16. I think I forgot to mention the LUXURY INSECT HOTEL (that’s what we call them….). I’m deeply jealous of you for this impressive set-up.
    And – did I tell you just HOW MUCH I LOVE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY????? Can I say it again? I LOVE your photos. I would love to fave them hundreds of times – especially also the close-ups. Magnificence by the barrel load.

    • A luxury insect hotel, eh? That’s quite a lovely concept. Why *shouldn’t* the insects get luxury accommodations? They do such important work for the planet, after all …

      As for your second paragraph: Well, you sure do know how to make a gal’s WEEK. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Your kind words mean the world to me.

  17. Wow! this is such great beauty! You are such a great photographer! I love to take pictures myself when I’m not working on the farm. Question- what kind of camera do you use to take such great pictures? Keep on taking those great pictures! R.H

    • Thank you very much for your kind compliments! I use a Panasonic GX7 (or GX85 for my travels) mostly with the standard 12-120mm kit lens. For me it’s the perfect middle ground between a point-and-shoot and an SLR. Thank you so much for stopping by, and for your kind encouragement.

  18. Heidebee, what exquisite photos of your walk on the wild side. You have a great eye and the ability to capture what others might simply pass by. I love the emerging ferns in their wooly shawls. I’ve never seen anything like it. Also, I have to ask if you were on your belly for that furry caterpillar shot? It’s a good one.

    So…are you saying that I could fly to Europe for free, as long as I’m willing to hold on tight to the back of a soaring eagle? Who knew!

    Great post!

    • Thank you for your very sweet words as always, dear Alys! I used to have a zillion ferns in my back yard but somehow never looked at their fuzziness so closely before, either. Aren’t they marvelous? And yes, I did indeed get down on the ground for that caterpillar mug shot — not full-belly action, but pretty close. 🙂

      As for flying all the way to Europe on an eagle … well, I’m not sure what their range is. But why not? We can do ANYTHING in our dreams!


      • When my boys were young, we used to pass a tree at our local park that I dubbed “the caterpillar tree” as it sheltered hundreds if not more caterpillars every year. They flowed into two neighboring trees as well, but that one tree was chalk full of them every year. Then they stopped coming, a sad day for all. Your comment reminded me of that tree. Alas, when I was holding hands with two boys, pulling wagons or pushing strollers, I had vey little time for pictures. How I wish I had one of that tree. I hope you’re enjoying your weekend.

        • Oh, dear Alys … what a bittersweet memory. It is sad sometimes how these beautiful little miracles happen once or maybe five times and then disappear again, mostly unnoticed. But you DID notice, even if you didn’t have a camera handy — and you remember. So in a way those hundreds of little caterpillars have achieved a kind of immortality through your memories and those of your sons. 🙂 xx

    • What a sweet comment … thank you! Keep doing what you’re doing for eight or nine years and I have no doubt you will surpass me. 🙂 Thank you so much for stopping by, and all my best!

    • It *is* amazing what nature has to offer — if only we pause to look. I’m so honored you like my photos, Otto. Thank you!

    • Isn’t the variety of flowers striking? At least it was to me, when I took a closer look and realized they were all different. I’m so pleased you liked them too. xx

      • Adds a whole other meaning to stop and smell the roses. The subtle variations between the flowers is what stands out to me the most. Just beautiful.

    • Thank you so much, Mr. Draco — high praise, coming from one of my favorite photographers! You’ll be pleased to know that I remain out of jail, but that may soon change now that the Renaissance Festival is opening. 🙂

    • So kind of you … thank you! Photography has been a treasured hobby since I was a kid, so it’s a real pleasure to be able to share it here with others. Thank you for stopping by, and especially for taking the time to comment.

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