Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

The resurgence continues

with 30 comments

Black-Eyed Susans Amid Burned Bastrop Forest 6089

Today is the official birthday of the United States of America, which now enters its 240th year as a nation. The country has its share of problems—which country doesn’t?—but let’s hope for a resurgence. On that theme, some of you will recall, and others of you will now learn, that in September of 2011 a huge fire burned for days and destroyed most of the pine forest in Bastrop State Park, along with over 1600 nearby homes.

In the first spring after the devastating fire I posted some early evidence of recovery in the form of a prominent white prickly poppy flower whose pristine brightness contrasted with the burned pines beyond it. One month ago today I went back for my first visit to the area in 2015, and the colorful views that I saw in many places encouraged me. Here’s one showing how densely the brown-eyed (or black-eyed) susans, Rudbeckia hirta, were flowering.

In order of prominence, this photograph offers you blue, white, and at the bottom a bit of red, so a happy reversed red, white, and blue to you on this Independence Day.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 4, 2015 at 5:25 AM

30 Responses

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  1. Well done, sir. Enjoy your day. We will have sun, calm wind, and 80˚. There will be jazz concerts downtown with fireworks to follow.

    Jim in IA

    July 4, 2015 at 6:45 AM

    • Your mention of calm wind raises three thoughts. The first is that as I look outside my window now I see there’s almost no wind. The second is that Medelssohn wrote a concert overture called (in English) “Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage.” The third thought is that many of the passengers on the Mayflower got seasick (just a few minutes ago I reached that part in Nathaniel Philbrick’s book Mayflower). I guess I can throw in a fourth thought for the Fourth of July, namely that this is indeed the Fourth of July.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 4, 2015 at 7:19 AM

      • That is a wide-ranging set of wind driven thoughts. I don’t have as many that come to mind. I looked at the weather map this morning and noticed Iowa was under a BIG H. Either a high pressure system is controlling our lack of wind. Or, Hillary is making her presence known. She is due in our town Tuesday. This may be the advance team. When Bernie makes a stop, will a BIG B cast over us?

        Jim in IA

        July 4, 2015 at 7:35 AM

        • That’s a clever way of segueing from the BIG H of weather to the BIG H and BIG B of politics, which is always full of wind. Following the ships and music that I invoked in my first reply, I’m now reminded of the “big, big D” that scandalizes people near the end of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pinafore, and which first gets mentioned in the song “I Am the Captain of the Pinafore”:

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 4, 2015 at 7:59 AM

  2. The US is 240 years young. There’s a lot of new growth still to come. Lovely photo choice for 4th July. It would be a perfect, additional illustration for Shoreacres post.


    July 4, 2015 at 7:27 AM

  3. It is good to see the recovery from the fire. Do you see Pine seedlings? Nature will heal herself, but not always to the same habitat as before. Infinitely fascinating, she is. Happy Independence Day, and may all your fractions be proper ones 🙂


    July 4, 2015 at 9:53 AM

    • Oh, but I’m such an improper person…

      To answer your properly asked question: yes, there are lots of pine seedlings, including thousands of them planted by people as part of a program to regenerate the forest. One expert I know disagrees with that approach and, pointing to the fact that pine saplings are coming up on their own, advocates leaving nature alone.

      As you noted, what comes up after a fire isn’t necessarily what was there before. The carpet of pine needles that used to cover the forest floor had suppressed most other species, so that in my various visits over the 3+ decades before the fire I never saw dense wildflower colonies like the one in today’s picture. It’s a remarkable change.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 4, 2015 at 10:19 AM

    • More on the math: when I hear a television ad or a news report that something is “a fraction” of its former cost, I often wish I had a way of answering back and pointing out that 4/3 and 5/2 are fractions too, in which case the cost would have gone up.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 4, 2015 at 10:48 AM

  4. A lovely photo – we have some areas around here as well that are getting very lush and green after recovering from forest fires. I guess sometimes fire brings new life:)

    Girl Gone Expat

    July 4, 2015 at 1:37 PM

    • As an expat you’ve traveled many places, so I’m not sure where you mean when you say “around here.” Wherever it is (Alaska?), we’re glad to hear that forest fires have sparked new life there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 4, 2015 at 3:14 PM

      • Around here is currently Alberta, Canada. Especially Kootenay National Park had a huge fire about 10 years ago. Today it is very green and lush and is now becoming prime habitat for grizzly and moose.

        Girl Gone Expat

        July 4, 2015 at 3:38 PM

        • Thanks for the clarification on your location. I haven’t yet been to Alberta, but maybe someday.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 4, 2015 at 4:59 PM

  5. It is amazing how nature can regenerate so well. Nice shot.

    Raewyn's Photos

    July 4, 2015 at 4:50 PM

    • There were dense wildflowers in several places, so I took dozens of pictures in various orientations and compositions. This was one of the few that had such a prominent cloud.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 4, 2015 at 5:40 PM

  6. So I will toot your horn for you, Mr. Born on the Fourth of July. Happy Birthday to one of my favorite bloggers.
    Nature overcomes all. Despite our (collective) sense of superiority over all creatures and organisms, nature will recover in one manner or another as you have shown here.

    Steve Gingold

    July 4, 2015 at 6:32 PM

    • That’s me, all right, a Yankee Doodle Dandy. Thanks for your good wishes on this 70th.

      As you say, nature is doing a good job of recovering in Bastrop, though the pine forest of before may never come back to its former density and extent. Future generations will find out, but we’ll never get to know how things turn out there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 4, 2015 at 6:58 PM

  7. It took me until this evening, but I’m glad I remembered your birthday fell on July 4th. I’m sure it was a happy one, and I hope you have many, many more.

    I’m glad to see you got over to Bastrop. This is a fabulous photo, in so many ways. Even the sunlight looks young and tender, like the flowers and the shoots of other foliage. The colors seem almost translucent. It’s just beautiful.

    I did notice the exchange up above about the planting of pine seedlings. I was a little surprised to see there had been opposition expressed, since the point of replanting had been (as I recall) to try and reestablish the loblolly pines on their westernmost fringe. Are the naturally-appearing seedlings loblolly, or something else?

    I still remember that white prickly poppy photo. It will be so interesting to compare things another year or few down the road.


    July 7, 2015 at 8:41 PM

    • I felt as if I couldn’t get enough of those wildflowers that were flourishing east of the state park. (There might have been colonies in the state park too, but at the time of my visit most of the roads were still closed because of damage done by heavy rains. Okay, James Taylor, it’s time for you to sing a verse of “Fire and Rain.”)

      The seedlings coming up on their own, like the ones people have been planting, are indeed the same loblolly species that made up the so-called lost pines. The planters want to accelerate the process but my local expert feels that nature will do its own thing soon enough.

      Thanks for your birthday wishes. The number of remaining birthdays necessarily diminishes each year, but obviously no one knows where the end of the line is. I’m reading a book about the Pilgrims, who had the misfortune to arrive as winter was setting in, so not quite half of them made it through their first year in America.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 7, 2015 at 10:06 PM

  8. […] known as brown-eyed susan or black-eyed susan. (You may remember seeing a whole colony of these in a post on the Fourth of July.) This time the warm background color came not from the earth, as it did in the photograph of the […]

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