Trumpets of spring

Trilliums have been the harbinger of spring for me since my first spring in Michigan.  Just as the leaves in the trees started to green up the woods there would be these white stars appearing on the forest floor.  Some areas would be dotted with white and some would display a carpet of brightness against the dark green and brown.  Only in the woods would you see them, creatures of the deep forest floor, too shy to venture into the sunlight.

Delightfully I see these in Wisconsin as well, peeking out of the ground before the other plants put out their leaves and start competing for the limited sunshine let in through the branches above that are rapidly extending their leaves to create shade underneath.  A brief glance is just about all you get before the white is gone, followed soon by the part of the plant above ground, gone for another year to rest before springing up again to remind us of the seasonal cycle.

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Signs of spring – at last!

May at last and it seems the last snow has just melted.  Somehow it feels as if the seasons and the climate are not in sync.  The trees, birds and flowers all want to start growing while the wind still blows cold and damp.  The height of the sun in the sky will hopefully re-connect the two and everything can get on with another year of starting over.

It’s the time to be quick as a photographer.  One day there’s a great composition and the next it’s gone as flowers pass their peak and babies grow rapidly.  Much like chasing fall colors it feels like the best way to handle this season is to go into the woods and stay for a month or so, patiently keeping an eye on all the goings-on and being there when the best view manifests itself.  Tough to do as an amateur.

Color comes around again

Nice hike this weekend, taking in a couple of new trails.  Surprising how cool it was for Labor Day weekend but the trees are starting to feel it as they shed summer colors for fall.  Feels like this seasonal change is going to come fast.

Devil’s Lake from the south bluff trail

Lichens turning quartzite into sand

Early autumn portrait

Someone has to be first

Standing out from the crowd

Urban planning

In your past did you take things apart just to see what’s inside?

LG Cosmos cellphone

This is the guts of a small cellphone, a slider version with a real keyboard.  All these electronics packed into a space about the size of a deck of cards.  Enabling near-instant communication with the world.  What will this look like in 20 years?

Is it a coincidence we build at the micro scale much as the macro scale?  Is there some most efficient form of construction that we are biased toward?  I noticed how this cellphone is laid out very similar to the industrial section of many cities.

Flying into cities and viewing the assortment of buildings and roads has always fascinated me.  Is there a plan, a pattern, a model that drives us to assemble areas in that fashion?  And do we mimic that in the tiny world of personal electronics.  I look at the image above, ignoring the obvious signs of microelectronics, and I see warehouses, roads, parking lots.

Fly into Silicon Valley and you’ll see names on the roofs of office buildings and distribution centers, proclaiming proudly the companies they house.  Surrounding them are acres of cars, surrounded by even more buildings and roadways.

Large buildings connected to smaller buildings, all in service to the people who own the cars surrounding them.  Communication paths for people and vehicles, mirrored in the infrastructure of fiber cables and wireless towers.I’m speculating in 20 years science and technology will have discovered means of creating personal electronics at an even smaller level, reducing what is seen here to the size seen in the structure of microprocessors.  I’m also speculating that will good microscopes (or the cameras of the day!) viewing these incredibly tiny creations will reveal they continue to mimic what we see around us in the urban landscape.

Idealistic planners press for more greenspace, more walking paths, less reliance on automobiles and crowded housing structures.  Yet the developers who drive urban construction continue to default with this layout.

Are we as a race so organized?  Or is there some other force prodding our thinking and planning to this end?

What would a more organic approach look like?

What you see is…what?

Speed makes all the difference

So they say seeing is believing.  But seeing what?  We want to believe the nature of reality is that it is perceiveable, that we can look out and see what is really there.  But what is really there?

The one dimension we think is unseeable is time.  The other three make themselves obvious with any three dimensional object, but time is perceived as the now, a unitary thing.  We can’t “see” the past or future, we simply see NOW.

Unless we have a camera.  Two shots above, one taken at 1/8th of a second, the other at 1/640th of a second.  Both of the same subject, within a minute of each other, both a NOW.

Which is the real fountain?  Photography enables us to “see” different versions by freezing time at a moment (or very short duration) and examine what’s happening.  I stared at this fountain for a bit and neither of these images was apparent to me – I saw something in between.  Yet here’s proof of a reality imperceptible to me.  So it must exist.

What else is going on around us that seeing doesn’t reveal?

What was is again

Much of this part of Wisconsin has been farmed in one way or another.  Only the wetlands have generally escaped being plowed and cultivated.  Doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of trees and parkland around.  As farming became more concentrated the small plots were left alone or acquired by towns.  Over time these have become places where the landscape of the Upper Midwest starts re-emerging.

As such, wander around the woods enough and you’ll spot signs the woods are a recent return to nature.  Old foundations, lingering roads, straight lines of trees or shrubbery all indicate people had a hand transforming the area in some way.  Sometimes you don’t even need an imagination – the signs are obvious.

Farm implements left in the woods – out of place and yet the right place to put equipment that once had its day on this ground but is now surrounded by returning natives.