Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Confluence of two Bull Creek tributaries

with 18 comments

Confluence of Bull Creek Tributaries 8662

Let me boost my L.Q. (landscape quotient) with this scene from the Bull Creek watershed on October 31. You’re seeing the confluence of two tributaries of Bull Creek as they looked after heavy rain the previous day and again in the overnight. Notice the hardy sycamore sapling (Platanus occidentalis) seemingly growing out of the limestone where the two creeks meet. If your eyes could glance upstream along the creek on the left (which they can), and then follow the water around the bend for a while (which they can’t), you’d have a view of the waterfall I showed you last week.

Between my previous visit to this spot and the current one, somebody (or somebodies) had defaced the upper part of the rocks at the V between the creeks, so I used a bit of digital magic to return those marred rocks to a natural state.

For more information about Bull Creek, including a look at a scenic postcard from 1916, you can check out the relevant Wikipedia article.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 11, 2015 at 5:00 AM

18 Responses

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  1. It looks like a good place to explore. I wish people wouldn’t leave their markings on places like this. They’ve done that forever. Kilroy was here. Lucius was here. etc Plus, they leave their trash all over.

    Jim in IA

    November 11, 2015 at 6:33 AM

    • It’s ironic that historians and archaeologists value graffiti for the insights they provide into ancient cultures, while in the present those markings are a blight. As you said, littering is another part of our blight. At the waterfall near this confluence I couldn’t help noticing all the garbage that the fast-flowing creek had swept along with it and piled up against obstacles like trees and boulders. Some good citizens do occasional clean-ups of nature, but there are always more people sinning.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 11, 2015 at 7:54 AM

  2. Beautiful picture! It seems as if that tree is growing out of nowhere. In terms of writings of rocks, we see them all the time when we travel. Looks like that desire to leave some kind of memory about ourselves is deeply engraved in us.

    Oleksandra Budna

    November 11, 2015 at 8:14 AM

    • It’s too bad that desire for self-validation can’t stay engraved in us rather than get engraved on the outside world.

      Sycamore saplings seem particularly good at getting a roothold in unlikely places. The heaviest current in the creek seemingly had no effect on this young tree, so I’d say it has a good chance of surviving.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 11, 2015 at 8:22 AM

  3. I bet it is good to see all that water after a dry summer. So sad that someone would deface part of such a pretty place. What are they thinking?


    November 11, 2015 at 8:27 PM

    • We go to extremes here. In the spring we had torrential rains and flooding. Next came months of drought. Then we had the heavy rain that turned these creeks into torrents again.

      I don’t know why people defaced these rocks. Probably for the same reason people mar buildings and bridges with graffiti.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 11, 2015 at 9:00 PM

  4. From the beginning of the Santa Fe trail in Kansas, it was forty miles to another Bull Creek (in today’s Johnson County). I don’t know how the one in Kansas got its name.

    Farther on was Pawnee Rock, the halfway point on the Trail. It was sandstone, which meant it carved easily. Indians left their marks, and in 1848, James Birch, a soldier on his way to the Mexican War, wrote: “Pawnee Rock was covered with names carved by the men who had passed it. It was so full that I could find no place for mine.” I didn’t carve my name in the rock, but I climbed it. That was the day I was introduced to stick-tights.

    I love the word confluence, and the way this photo portrays it. The past flows away, the future sweeps in, and that little bit of green, leafy present just stands there and grows.


    November 11, 2015 at 9:12 PM

    • Thanks for the information about Pawnee Rock. The fact that the soldier who described it was named Birch makes me seem to recall that I saw names carved on birch trees when I was a kid on Long Island.

      Back here in Texas there are plenty of pictographs, some as close as the San Angelo area, many more out toward the Pecos River.

      I don’t think I’d ever used the word confluence here before, so it’s long overdue. On the subject of past and future, I heard not long ago that in some cultures the past is imagined as being in front of us because we can see it, whereas the future stretches behind us because we can’t see what it will bring.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 11, 2015 at 10:16 PM

  5. Looks like such a fun outing, The growth of the sycamore lends credence to the concept of flourish where you are planted.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    November 11, 2015 at 10:58 PM

    • For the previous three months there had been little rain and I assume these creeks would have been mostly dry. That’s why I felt that I, too, was flourishing by being able to stand in the flowing water alongside the young sycamore that had planted itself there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 12, 2015 at 6:04 AM

  6. Your LQ is definitely recharged, along with these creeks. What fun to splash in to get this wonderful shot. Thank you for de-defacing the rocks for us…does that translate to re-facing?


    November 12, 2015 at 8:25 AM

    • Because we don’t have fabulous landscapes here, I take advantage of any embellishments I can get, in this case the consequences of heavy rain.

      I wore my hip-high rubber boots so I could walk in the creeks’ flowing water but I didn’t do any splashing: gotta protect that camera equipment.

      Let’s face it: in a strictly logical language the two prefixes would cancel out and we’d be left with “facing.” That doesn’t work but your “refacing” lets us save face.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 12, 2015 at 8:43 AM

      • chuckle..


        November 12, 2015 at 8:58 AM

        • Re: re-
          I don’t read the comics in the Austin newspaper (or any other), but I happened to glance down just now at the page across from the one I was reading. There I saw the single frame of a comic called Ziggy. It showed a religious figure holding up a sign saying “Repent,” and next to him stood a devil holding up a sign saying “Pent.”

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 12, 2015 at 1:25 PM

  7. Nice spot. You will get no argument from me for undoing that which was done but never should have been.

    Steve Gingold

    November 12, 2015 at 4:01 PM

    • It is a nice spot, one I discovered only two or three years ago.

      I didn’t think I’d get an argument from you about my digital departure from “purity” in this case. If there were an easy way for me to get up to those upper rocks, I’d be tempted to use a hammer and chisel to do some actual cleaning up.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 12, 2015 at 4:25 PM

      • There’s a product called “Goof-off” that’s good for removing paint.

        Steve Gingold

        November 12, 2015 at 4:31 PM

        • I’d originally thought the graffiti was carved into the rock, but in looking closely at the original file I think the people used white paint, so the product you mentioned might be the way to go.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 12, 2015 at 5:38 PM

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