The winter woods are a fascinating sight under the shelter of sturdy live oaks and glossy magnolias.

Anything but drab, the shadowy canopy of resilient tropical green creates a tapestry above the familiar understory of young needly pines, crunchy leaves, feathery spores, and rattling seed pods on dessicated brown stalks.

I made a little collection of some of these rugged curiosities, in all their earthy, crackly glory (which happens to be a very similar activity to shelling - the perennial pastime of every beach comber). Each artifact in this wintry array begs to the be star of its own still life, bursting with the story of a unique life cycle, the symbiosis of its home forest, and the transformation of many small parts that add up to the redecoration of entire swaths of the planet for the season. Don’t they look like they want to be paintings?

Enjoy this little game, and see if you can recognize all the characters in their winter garb.

J