A journey into the eyes and mind of a naturalist.


The school that I work at takes two weeks from each school year and dedicates them to experiential learning.  Teachers plan various different activities from college tours, to movie analysis.  Students pick their favorite and that is what they do for the entire week.  My group was the photography group.  We journeyed all over the Twin Cities, giving the students as many subjects as possible with the allotted time.  The best part was that I got to bring my camera along and take pictures with my students.

It was a wonderful week and I was very impressed with many of the photos the students took.  It is always amazing how much people are willing to learn given interest in the subject matter.

The leaves are in full color…. well at least those that are still on the trees.   This Red Oak is showing its true colors.  Leaves change color as their various pigments begin to degrade.  Cholorphyll, the pigment responsible for making leaves green, is usually the first to go.  The Carotinoids, the pigments responsible for the reds, oranges and yellows, are more slowly degraded.  As winter approaches the leave loose their pigment until they wither and fall.  Those precious few weeks when the leaves all seem to be ablaze with color are cherished as the true fall days.

The leaf does not change all at once.  The red invades from the edges pushing toward the central vein of the leaf.


Mushrooms are still in full ‘bloom’.  Their gills chalked full of spores to ensure the next generation of decomposers are released into the world.

This tree was slowly losing the battle with the slowly advancing fungus.  Fungi excrete digestive enzymes that break down its host.  This tree may take decades to fully decompose.  Time is a fungi’s ally.


Burdock, the notorious ‘bur’ or ‘hitchhiker’ is an invasive species in Minnesota.  This plant was the inspiration for the invention of Velcro and I think this picture demonstrates why.

Up Next:  A Trip to the Zoo


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