Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

July 4th

with 70 comments

July 4th is my birthday. It always has been. While I could commemorate the date by showing you one picture for each birthday I’ve had, I think you’ll agree that would be too onerous for me and certainly for you. Instead, let me focus on the 4 in today’s date and show you four pictures I took in the southern part of Great Hills Park on June 23rd. The first thing that caught my attention, just beyond the metal railing along the sidewalk on that side of Floral Park Drive, was the dense display of Clematis drummondii flowers. Like pale yellow-green stars in a floral firmament they were.

Then I wandered steeply down to the shaded bank of the creek that flows through that section of the park. The creek had mostly dried up, which is common in the heat of the Texas summer. Some water remained pooled up in one small part of the creek bed, and on the surface of the stagnating pool I saw a dry leaf, apparently that of a mustang grape, Vitis mustangensis. Several grapes had fallen in that area and one of them miraculously lay on top of the little raft that the leaf had become for it. Even when the leaf shifted slightly in its floating, the grape didn’t roll off.

When I finished taking pictures of the de facto raft, I noticed on the far bank of the creek, which lay lit up by lambent sunlight, what I feel compelled to call glaucous glop. Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it, at least photographically.

After I walked a minute or so downstream from the glaucous glop, I came across a shed snake skin on a mostly dried-out portion of the creek bed. The snake skin had been rent into several parts that remained near one another. The tail end, shown here, lay flattened onto a level portion of the creek bed. A little piece of dry Ashe juniper, Juniperus ashei, conveniently delineated the wider end of that segment.

Following suit, this sentence conveniently delineates the end of my July 4th tetralogy. Except that I’m adding a sentence to say that if you can slip the words lambent, delineate and tetralogy into a conversation today, it’ll be a fine birthday present for a lover of words.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 4, 2017 at 12:01 AM

70 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Happy Birthday!

    Martha Goudey

    July 4, 2017 at 12:14 AM

  2. Happy Birthday, Steve! 🇺🇸I love your images and your words. 🙂

    Jane Lurie

    July 4, 2017 at 12:35 AM

  3. Happy belated birthday


    July 4, 2017 at 2:09 AM

    • I appreciate your good wishes, Srijana. I have a feeling you’re in a distant time zone because here in Texas the 4th of July has barely gotten started.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 4, 2017 at 4:16 AM

  4. Happy Birthday to you (and your country) 🙂


    July 4, 2017 at 4:11 AM

    • Thanks, Uta. I’ve always had two celebrations for the price of one, and for as I can remember I’ve been interested in the birth of this country.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 4, 2017 at 4:22 AM

  5. Happy birthday, Steve!

    Mind Margins

    July 4, 2017 at 4:28 AM

  6. I love etymology too. I get Webster’s word of the day and like to read the origins. The history of English is fun read. Happy birthday.

    Sherry Felix

    July 4, 2017 at 4:42 AM

    • It’s good to find another fan of etymology. Speaking of which: did you know that that kind of fan is short for fanatic?

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 4, 2017 at 5:05 AM

  7. Happy Birthday, Steve, and Happy Birthday America, too!


    July 4, 2017 at 5:41 AM

  8. Lambent as a coincidence is one thing. Discovering lambent also was an early birthday present is unexpected, and fun.

    Thanks for all the gifts you’ve given us over the past year. I’d delineate them, but I’d have to raise that tetralogy to at least the power of ten, and I’m a little short on time this morning. Happy birthday!


    July 4, 2017 at 6:06 AM

  9. Happy Birthday. I love the grape raft.


    July 4, 2017 at 6:38 AM

  10. HB2U

    Jim R

    July 4, 2017 at 6:46 AM

  11. Happy Birthday, Steve. The lambent light of evening is far gone, darkness claims the sky, save for the southern tetralogy, delineated in stars. Now if I could but rhyme that would be a quatrain for your birthday.


    July 4, 2017 at 6:59 AM

  12. Happy Birthday! I could feel the building ivresse of words as you wandered steeply like a cloud….

    Marcia Levy

    July 4, 2017 at 7:11 AM

    • ….and what more fitting poetical allusion than to WORDSworth…(this one’s from Dad)

      Marcia Levy

      July 4, 2017 at 7:13 AM

      • Then I’ll thank you both.
        Not surprisingly, I found online that “ivresse is in the lower 50% of commonly used words in the Collins dictionary.”

        Steve Schwartzman

        July 4, 2017 at 9:44 AM

  13. Happy birthday, sir. I thank you for your present of three new words today.

    Judy Baumann

    July 4, 2017 at 7:50 AM

  14. Happy Birthday, Steve, and thanks for a piquant and ingenious posting!

    Nan Hampton

    July 4, 2017 at 10:06 AM

    • The word piquant
      Isn’t frequent
      In these nature photography pages.
      The truth be told,
      I’ll make so bold,
      It’s not been heard around here in ages.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 4, 2017 at 10:28 AM

  15. Cumpleaños feliz a Usted, Flores Felices Azul y Rojo – Hmmm, the syntax is much better in English!
    Happy Birthday to You – Happy Flowers, Red y Blue!

    Oh yes, and sweet clusters of White Clematis with uvas on top!

    And a snake skin… and glaucous glop….

    sounds like a mescla a little boy would pull from his pockets at the end of a day!

    May your day be filled with lovely moments!

    • Gracias, Lisa. You might say—and you implied—that I’m a little boy at heart. I still get excited when I find things like the ones shown in this post. Yes, I’m fond of great landscapes like the ones we’ve encountered on our recent trips, but plenty of smaller wonders lurk right in our neighborhood. If you ever visit Austin I’ll show you some of them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 4, 2017 at 4:37 PM

  16. This column and the comments have been a rare treat!
    Sorry I haven’t got any clever wordplay to offer, but you’ve inspired me to write out “Glaucous Glop” and paste it on my sister’s box of granola. I’ll try to work “lambent” into conversation, but if I stop by a microbrewery, “lambic” may have to suffice.

    Robert Parker Teel

    July 4, 2017 at 11:17 AM

    • Glop is one thing, but if your sister’s granola really looks glaucous, I’d do my best to keep her from eating it.

      You got me on lambic, which (unlike iambic) I had to look up:


      Glad you’ve been enjoying this column and its comments. I’ve been having fun too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 4, 2017 at 4:41 PM

  17. Peering in to my lambent crystal ball, I see delineated for you a birthday tetralogy of your favorite things. Happy birthday!

    Susan Scheid

    July 4, 2017 at 1:48 PM

    • Thanks, Susan. I can just hear Julie Andrews singing about a few—or more exactly four—of my favorite things.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 4, 2017 at 4:42 PM

  18. Happy. birthday Steve! (I’m still working on using those words! 😉 )


    July 4, 2017 at 2:40 PM

    • You’ve got a double task because you have to do so in German as well. Ich wünsche dir viel Glück.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 4, 2017 at 4:44 PM

  19. Enjoy your birthday! And thanks for the presents from your June 23 walk. Excellent as usual.


    July 4, 2017 at 3:50 PM

    • Thanks, Robert. Central Texas has so much to offer a walker in nature, as you know from experience.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 4, 2017 at 4:47 PM

  20. Happy birthday! Few people get to commemorate their special day with fireworks! Was intrigued by the grape(s) of raft (grin) picture. The grape on the right looks like it’s suspended in mid-air, as the water is very still.


    July 4, 2017 at 4:01 PM

  21. Happy Birthday Steve!


    July 4, 2017 at 8:23 PM

  22. Just a passerby, though, happy birthday!

    Athena Catwool

    July 4, 2017 at 8:57 PM

  23. Happy Birthday, Steve and thank you for the reverse gift of a new word. I had ambient in my personal dictionary, but never knew Iambent. It is a useful word for the effect of moving or glowing light. (I looked it up.) 🙂


    July 4, 2017 at 10:27 PM

    • This is a coincidence. I looked at your site this morning and confirmed that you hadn’t posted in a long time. I was going to send you an e-mail to check up on you, and now here you are. I do hope all is well in your ambiente, which is what Spanish calls the environment.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 4, 2017 at 10:33 PM

  24. Happy birthday, Steve! I hope it was a splendid day.

    • Thanks, Michael. It turned out to be a splendidly simple day, which is fine with me after all the traveling we’ve done this year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 5, 2017 at 4:40 AM

  25. Happy Birthday Steve! Love your photos and your detailed narratives! Wish I had your way with words! But at least I can portray things visually!

    Reed Andariese

    July 5, 2017 at 7:18 AM

    • Thanks, Reed, for appreciating the narratives as well as the images. My involvement with words came a decade before my plunge into photography, but both beginnings are now well in the past. We all have our talents, and one of yours I’ve long admired is the ability to photograph animals in dynamic positions.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 5, 2017 at 7:28 AM

  26. Happy birthday, Steve – my father was a “firecracker” as well.


    July 5, 2017 at 1:03 PM

    • How’s that for a coincidence, Lynn? Of course approximately one out of every 365 can lay claim to the same birthday, but it still seems special.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 5, 2017 at 1:15 PM

  27. Happy birthday!!


    July 5, 2017 at 7:44 PM

  28. Happy belated Steve .. I always enjoy your posts 😃


    July 9, 2017 at 1:01 AM

  29. Happy belated birthday, Steve!

    Lavinia Ross

    July 10, 2017 at 11:09 AM

  30. I am delighted to learn about your four photographs for the 4th. Enjoy your new trip around the sun! I, too, have a holiday birthday, December 25th! I am sure we share the usual attempts to celebrate (or not) amidst the holiday.

    Kathryn Hardage

    July 10, 2017 at 11:50 AM

    • Thanks. I like the way you put it: my newest trip around the sun.

      My oldest childhood friend has a December 25th birthday. Like him, you may have gotten shortchanged throughout your life by not getting separate Christmas and birthday presents each year.

      I hope you won’t feel obliged to “celebrate” by showing 25 photos on December 25th.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 10, 2017 at 12:02 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: