The last ray
O. Henry, who lived for almost a decade in Austin*, later wrote a wonderful short story called “The Last Leaf,” which I recommend if you’ve never read it or if you haven’t read it recently.** Today’s picture reminded me of that story because it shows the seed head of a firewheel, Gaillardia pulchella, when all the ray flowers but one had fallen off. I took the photograph in Balcones District Park in north Austin on June 27, 2011, and I intended to include it in these pages last year when it was still a fairly recent sight, but the picture joined some others in getting lost in the shuffle of ever newer things that clamored for attention and insisted on getting posted first. Now that this year’s most recent post has shown you a large colony of firewheels becoming less fiery, there’s a good reason to show you the details in a close and isolated view of one firewheel at the stage where it’s no longer shaped like a wheel.***
© 2012 Steven Schwartzman
* A writer named Coincidence turned out a true tale in which I’ve followed in the footsteps of O. Henry by having lived not only in Austin, but in New York, North Carolina, and, least likely of all, Honduras.
** In looking online for a copy of “The Last Leaf” that I could link to, I was dismayed—but not surprised—to find that although the story is only a few pages long, there are websites that summarize it for the benefit of students too lazy to read even that much.
*** I’m adding a footnote to point out that this post is the first in which I’ve ever included two footnotes, but by adding a third footnote I’m falsifying that message. Oh, paradox! Still, because three is usually a larger number than two, the gist of what I intended to say comes across even more strongly.