Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for July 4th, 2011

A one-day departure

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Union Hill Cemetery, Williamson Co., Texas; click to enlarge.

Today marks one month since I put up the first post in this blog, and it’s coincidentally not only my birthday but also our nation’s birthday, so I hope you’ll indulge me in a one-day bit of independence from my normal approach, which is to show nature per se, free from the intrusion of any human elements into the picture. Yesterday’s post about the old Union Hill Cemetery sent me to my archives for May 4, 2010, and in looking through the photographs from that session I was reminded of the eventful day it had been.

First there was the matter of parking. I’d originally parked on the edge of a small side road that intersects the one that crosses the upper part of the photograph. I walked into the cemetery but something kept nagging me about where I’d parked, so I gave in to my apprehension and moved the car. A little later, after I’d been photographing in the cemetery for a while, I was startled by a sound that I’ve come to recognize as that of one car crashing into another. A vehicle passing by on the main road had hit one coming out from the side road, and the one that was hit ended up careening over to the very spot where I’d originally parked my car.

No one was hurt, so I went back to taking pictures. In the last decade, site after site where I’ve photographed wildflowers has disappeared—sometimes within weeks of my visit—getting variously turned into a truck depot, office building, road, supermarket, parking lot, subdivision, etc. At the top of today’s photograph you can see that the piece of prairie across the way from the cemetery is now covered with one of the many subdivisions that have been springing up in the outer reaches of the Austin area, where land is cheaper than closer in.

Score one for the subdivision, and score one for me in not getting my parked car wrecked in a freak accident. Call it a draw with respect to another nemesis that I encounter all too often: the mower man. You can see him cutting his path of destruction across the top of the photograph. This blog is only a month old, and already you’ve heard me complain about these people who only seem happy when they’ve turned a beautiful display of flowers in a stubblefield. At least on this day the mower stayed on the subdivision side of the road and left the flowers in Union Hill Cemetery alone.

Because you know that the photograph shows a cemetery, there’s no reason for you to be surprised to see three tombstones standing among the Engelmann daisies and bluebonnets that by themselves would be my usual subject. What you can’t tell from this reduced view is that three people buried beneath the tombstones were all from a family named Brooks, and that all were infants. That’s what life was like back then. Going left to right, here’s the information about each, including the little poems that their parents, D.R and M.D. Brooks, had inscribed at the bases of the tombstones of their little children.

Freddie J. Brooks. Born May 13, 1891; died Oct. 9, 1892.

Alas how changed that lovely flower,
Which bloomed and changed our hearts:
Fair fleeting moments of an hour,
How soon we’r called to part.

James Oliver Brooks. Born Dec. 14, 1877; died Sep. 2, 1878.

How we miss thee how we miss thee,
There’s no earthly tongue can tell.
Yet we hope one day to meet thee,
Where we need not say farewell.

Ellen Adeline Brooks. Born Oct. 24, 1880; died Aug. 13, 1881.

She has crossed the shining river,
Safe she rests on yonder shore;
She is in her home eternal,
With the loved ones gone before.

The first of those inscriptions, which is the last one chronologically, even contains the word flower, so we’ll let this photograph of a wildflower meadow be a fitting tribute.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 4, 2011 at 1:43 PM

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