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Mary Jo Hoffman posted her first photo on her blog, Still (, on Jan. 1, 2012: a row of ghostly, grayish-brown aspen leaves, decayed to resemble threadbare fabric.

Every day since, the Shoreview resident has posted her daily compositions of found natural objects — assemblages of striped bird feathers and craggy pinecones, a hibernating bat — against a white (or black) background.

Hoffman's striking, graphic images have graced the walls of luxury resorts and sheet sets at Target. Now she's compiled them into a stunning coffee-table tome called "Still: The Art of Noticing." On April 27, she'll be at Mia's Art in Bloom, speaking and signing books. (In May, she's giving talks at the New York Botanical Garden and the 92nd Street Y.)

The book is organized around a calendar of 72 "micro-seasons," which subdivides the year into five-day increments, poetically named for incremental changes in nature. This concept originated in ancient China and Japan, but Hoffman adapted it to Minnesota's biome, marking the periods in which "Waxwings Get Drunk on Fermented Crabapples," or "Thunder Rumbles in the Distance."

We grabbed coffee with the self-described "citizen naturalist" to learn how to cultivate an "infra-ordinary" way of seeing and what global warming means for the Time of Snow.

Q: Congratulations on Still's 12-year streak!

A: If you were going to start a project and said, "I'm gonna make 4,000 images," you wouldn't do it. You'd be like, "That's ridiculous."

Q: How has your approach to Still changed over time?

A: The first year, you do the obvious stuff: the milkweed pods, the cattails, the pussy willow. Then it's like, "OK, to keep going, I have to go deeper and find new subjects." Then about three, four or five years into it, I didn't want to stop. It became a way of life. In order to find a new subject every day, I had to be super-attentive and super-present. I found that way of living in the world — being that present, that aware, that attentive — was life-enhancing. Right now, I'm on this deep dive about seeing past the ordinary. I learned this term infra-ordinary. …

Q: Infra, like infrared light, which isn't visible?

A: Yes, it's seeing those things that you are so habituated to that you just completely even stop seeing.

Still: The Art of Noticing
Still: The Art of Noticing

Q: Using your coffee and scone as an example, the ordinary way to look at this scene is the overhead latte-art Instagram shot. And infra-ordinary would be …

A: Maybe you notice this paper lining this plate. [Touches the translucent sheet underneath her scone.] How it's square and the plate is kind of rounded square.

Q: So looking beyond the obvious scone or plate, to notice the interesting way the light reflects off the paper?

A: That's what Still did for me. Driving roads I've traveled thousands of times, suddenly I am scanning them for what's going on, what's changing, what haven't I done before. It snapped me out of autopilot. I still do Still mostly for myself, and I get a thrill when I look through the viewfinder and it's like, 'Oh, yeah, that works.' But the most thrill I get is when I take something totally ordinary, like, leaves in the gutter, or roadside broken switchgrass, and arrange them in a way that is compelling. When I make images, I want them to be one of two things: beautiful or interesting. And if I can do both, that's a super good day.

Q: As compelling as the images are, in the book you explain how Still became more about the process of making them, as a sort of externally focused meditation.

A: It's letting go of perfectionism. It became about living in the world in this heightened state of creative awareness. Still, the practice. Still, the lifestyle.

Q: I saw your Still post of tree buds in February. How did you react to this winter's record-breaking warmth?

A: It's like, 'Uh-oh, we've got trees budding a month early. And if we get a cold snap, those buds will die.'

Q: There was basically no "Time of Snow."

A: [Laughs] "Time of Hunger?" Are you kidding? The squirrels are still sitting on my front step gorging on acorns.

Q: You spent a decade analyzing the minutia of our seasonal changes, and now that the book's coming out …

A: The components are totally off because of global warming. It's just so off, it's crazy.

Q: What does it feel like to have your book picked up by a publishing house known for its monographs of Warhol and Picasso?

A: I'm still surprised every day, because I walk the same five trails in Shoreview, and photograph on my kitchen floor, and I'm this middle-aged, middle-American. The fact that the world's biggest art-book publisher is publishing this book blows my mind.

Still: The Art of Noticing

By: Mary Jo Hoffman.

Publisher: Phaidon, 318 pages, $60.

Event: 11 a.m. April 27, Mia, 2400 3rd Av. S., Mpls., $25,