Saturday, 3 December 2022

phytomorphology (10. 358)

Via friend of the blog par-excellence Nag on the Lake, we are referred to a stop-motion exploration of leaf shape by Brett Foxwell, who collected, pressed and imaged over twelve thousand samples for this engaging sequence of gradual transition forms. Be sure to check out the source link to The Kid Should See This where you’ll also find their impressive holiday gift guide.

Monday, 3 October 2022

tree talk (10. 192)

Via Waxy, artist Kelton Sears, employing a vertical scroll going upwards presents a GIF-driven, happy comic–reminiscent of Cordell Barker’s “The Cat Came Back”–to reflect on our aboreal friends and the way we experience the passage of time—with humour and insight. 


Saturday, 24 September 2022

8x8 (10. 162)

herbst: vintage Eastern Bloc matchboxes welcoming Fall  

ฮฑฯฮฝฮฌฮบฮน: comedian Shari Lewis delivers One Minute Mythologies—via r/Obscure Media  

wie ist dein name, mann: adapting Hamilton in German for the Hamburg stage—possibly a bit rough for those who committed the original lyrics to heart but Lin-Manuel Miranda is deeply involved 

tl;dr: an AI powered tool that provides a summary of long videos—via Web Curios  

wolf hall: RIP historical fiction author Hilary Mantel  

not in my backyard: good luck getting anything built in Sim Nimby (see also)—again from Web Curios

voting integrity: Russian soldiers in occupied regions of Ukraine undertake door-to-door balloting in the referenda to ensure citizens choose wisely  

kirie: celebrating the onset of autumn with more of the Japanese art of leave carving

Friday, 12 November 2021



Thursday, 11 November 2021


Saturday, 16 October 2021

atlas des champignons: comestibles, suspects et vรฉnรฉneux

Unsuccessful in our foraging this year (and usually coming up with the suspect varieties, if not outright poisonous ones), we appreciated pouring over the detail and descriptions from physician, botanist and accidental chronicler of the Haitian Revolution Michel ร‰tienne Descourtilz’ 1827 guide, lusciously illustrated with the lithographs of Auguste Cornillon. More from Public Domain Review at the link above.

Friday, 1 October 2021


For this latest instalment of the annual tradition of using machine learning to generate Halloween and autumnal themed sketching—or decorating prompts—we really enjoyed some of the curated favourites from Janelle Shane (previously) and gamely humans take to these suggestions. In order of model dataset size—Moustaches creep creepily; the unseen graveyard stretches for miles; mist-sheep chew on tombstones. A slightly less experienced, exposed artificial intelligence recommends: the question mark from a box; half a cup of milk; a flappy spider; a flappy tea; Ghost traitors and A zombl. Much more, including submissions and unrelated prompts for animals (Bearllionaire) and landscapes (Library of Lava) at AI Weirdness at the link above.

Friday, 23 October 2020

woad and madder

Courtesy of The Morning News and having only dared to ventured out to where the freshly-turned fields begin to remark on these colour-coordinated trees and their turning leaves, we quite appreciated this reflection on russet—the colour of peasants, foxes pelts and penance. 

In addition to the earthy and autumnal hues, in this thorough-going essay that explores the emergent colour—where the reds of blood, fire and ochre of the Caves of Lascaux and here in the dark ruddy-orange tinge of it—through fashion, poetry and sentiment—Biron from Love’s Labour’s Lost yearning for expression “in russet yeas and honest kersey [course woollen cloth] noes” and even Oliver Cromwell preferring a “plain, russet-coated captain that knows what he fights for, and loves what he knows over that which you call a gentleman and is nothing else.” And if the author’s column rings familiar in hue and cry—it’s the happy continuation of these previous instalments of colour stories.

Sunday, 18 October 2020


H and I wandered a bit in the woods foraging for mushrooms, and while we didn’t really encounter anything that we were reasonably certain was edible and warranted collecting and later research, we found that the forest was ripening with all sorts of fungi, including Wood’s Ear (Auricularia auricula-judaesee previously and which we forgot again was safe for consumption and is widely used in China—I just don’t know about the texture and the prospect of picking one up) that was pretty widespread along the path and some more nice examples of fly agaric (Amanita muscaria, Fliegenpilz, see above). 

A new variety that we had not encountered beforehand, however, were these colourful ones in the same family—sometimes referred to “verdigris agaric” called blue roundhead (Stropharia caerulea, der Grรผnblaue Trรคuschling)—the specific epithet caerulea being Latin for blue while for contemporary speakers it generally indicates a shade between azure and teal. Host trees are usually beeches (Buchen) and thrive in alkaline soils.

Monday, 12 October 2020


Rather taken with the idea of capturing fall leaves in transition ourselves, we were pleased to learn that artist Josef Albers (see previously) also—circa 1940—conducted his own foliage studies and in part out of necessity, since leaves and trees were in abundance but paper less so, encouraged his students at Black Mountain College and Yale to appreciate the beauty of the changing palette and constant rhythm of the seasons.  We ought to mount some samples on construction paper and see what sort patterns emerge.

Saturday, 3 October 2020


Visiting a small harvest festival nearby held on Germany Unity Day, H and I looked for some autumn accents for the house and found several stalls selling traditional onion braids (Zwiebelzรถpfe). 

Sometimes also incorporating garlic bulbs, the braids adorned craftily with dried wild flowers were not customarily only for decorative and storage, preservative purposes but moreover for the notion that the power of the talisman would stave off illness and harm from hearth and home. Right now we can all use all the help we can muster. Singly, onions were worn as amulets in medieval times to ward off the plague, and a New Year’s Eve custom (divination from onions is called cromniomancysee also) in various regions, especially in the Erzgebirge, called for the dicing of an onion into twelve sections and sprinkling each bowl with salt to forecast the precipitation for each month of the year to come as the moisture drawn out of each section by the next morning would predict that month’s rainfall.

Tuesday, 29 September 2020


patim, patam, patum: font specimens of Patufet, a typeface inspired by the Catalonian Tom Thumb 

ace of cups: Summer of Love all-female band that played the Avalon Ballroom and appeared with Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead release a new double-album 

leaf-peeping: Swiss fall foliage map 

franking privileges: Finnish studio mints climate change stamps with heat-reactive ink 

backyard safari: highly detailed journal documenting encounters with wildlife—via Nag on the Lake 

space 1999: scenes from the sets of the iconic British scifi series that ran from 1975 to 1977—via Messy Nessy Chic 

pacomobile: a modified VW snail camper—via Things magazine  

sฤƒlaj county: a brilliant assortment of flag redesigns for Romania’s forty-two regions to celebrate the country’s diversity 

 cannonball aderley: jazz record sleeves from Reagan Ray (see previously) feature the typography of the artists’ names—via Kottke

1q or the feast of the archangels

Venerating Saint Michael and companions, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel in honour of their victory of Lucifer and the rebel angels in the angelomachy, Michaelmas (previously) is observed on the penultimate day of September—in some traditions, the feast extending into the next day—and has also come to one of the four quarter dates of the financial year, kept since at least medieval times to mark when school and court terms were to commence and the accounting was due to ensure that debts and unresolved cases didn’t linger (see also) into the next season.

Though the customary hiring fairs and local elections do not necessarily adhere (the tradition is retained for the election of London’s lord mayor, just as peasants during the Middle Ages would appoint a reeve from among their peers to represent their interests to the manor) to the same calendars, this time of year—still referred to as the Michaelmas term for matriculating students in England, Scotland and Ireland and for the US Supreme Court’s and the English bar’s Inns of the Court’s fall sessions and of course it marks the end and beginning of the fiscal year for budget purposes. Asters or the Michaelmas daisy are one of the few flowering plants left at the beginning of autumn, and thus inspiring the rhyme and invocation: “Michaelmas daisies among dead weeds, bloom for Saint Michael’s valorous deeds.”

Tuesday, 22 September 2020


blocking: Ella Slack has been the Queen’s stand-in and body-double for the past three decades 

grizzly ii: a previously unreleased 80s horror flick starring Laura Dern and Charlie Sheen is making its debut forty years later, via Messy Nessy Chic  

life, the universe and everything: fun facts about the number forty-two, via Boing Boing  

welcoming autumn: it’s decorative gourd season 

the long now: hiding a ten-thousand-year clock inside a mountain (see also)

framing: Twitter issues apologies for its biased image cropping algorithm

Sunday, 21 October 2018


I took a stroll through the fields to the forest’s edge above our village watch the slow transition of the leaves to their autumn colour palette.  The sunshine was not as forthcoming as yesterday that bathed everything with a blushing golden hue in the mid-afternoon but the woods still put on a spectacular show for this opening act that is to be followed by several encores. 

Sunday, 23 September 2018

welcoming autumn

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

stick insect

We enjoyed seeing this collection of moths, butterflies, mantises and beetles created by Montreal-based fashion designer Raku Inoue out of seasonal foliage. This series was inspired from studying ikebana or kadล (่ฏ้“, the way of flowers)—the art of floral arrangement considered one of the three classical Japanese arts of refinement along with kลdล (้ฆ™้“, the Way of Fragrance) or incense appreciation and chadล (่Œถ้“), the ritual of the tea ceremony, and taught the artist to respect and work with Nature, selecting bounty over beauty.

Sunday, 1 October 2017


We were rather taken with this stunning ensemble of trees turning from green to gold with red-accented vines in a parking lot near home—there’s happily quite a spectacle to see with the changing of the seasons but sometimes there’s the most contrast when it’s removed from the forest a bit. The chloroplasts in plants would be optimised for absorbing light across all spectra should leaves be black and while there’s a wide range in colouration, botanists aren’t sure exactly why most vegetation is green and not a darker shade. I wondered if the changing colours was just the onset of shedding them, the parts dying—or whether the process weren’t something more poetic, like the death of a star with the different phases and outcome it goes through as its energy sources dwindle.
I don’t think one can quite bear out that metaphor but it turns out that it’s a gross over-simplification to say that trees shed their leaves because of the cost of maintaining a green mantle during the winter months outweighs the photosynthetic benefits. The chemical responsible for the yellow and orange hues is always present in the leaves but is masked by renewed chlorophyll during the growing season.
The chemicals responsible for purples and reds are produced at the end of summer and slowly become a part of the tree’s complexion. Brown is the absence of pigment altogether.
Trees undergo this transformation to prevent water loss primarily and in certain climes to stave off freezing of extremities but there’s a whole host of other reasons including foiling the camouflage of herbivores, avoiding infestation, advertising its seeds and berries and to even stunt the growth of close neighbours. The clusters of dead leaves that remain attached and aren’t dropped, called marcescent, are even kept around by design as in the Spring they are a store of nutrients and they mask growing buds and ensure that any animal foraging for these new shoots gets a nasty taste for the effort.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

fall foilage

Of course, the turning leaves of the trees are delightful but so too can be vines and ivy, like this rather spectacularly vibrant creeper with mixed colours that I saw scaling the side of a building.

Monday, 26 September 2016

to autumn

Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer have o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinรฉd flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

What are the songs of Spring? Aye, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy Music too—
While barrรฉd clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

~ John Keats, 1819