Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 46 comments

Over the 26 days from July 17 through August 11 we drove 5100 miles on a journey that took us as far afield as Toronto and New York. This was a combination trip:

  • People, including some I hadn’t seen since 1973.
  • Culture, primarily in the form of museums, most of which we got into for free thanks to reciprocal privileges from our membership in Austin’s Blanton Museum.
  • Scenic places (had to do at least some nature photography, right?).

On July 17 we made the fatiguing 650-mile push to Memphis. The next morning I photographed a pond along the Austin Peay Highway northeast of Memphis.

Here’s a second view of that pond:

Not long afterwards I stopped at another pond a little further east:

In the shallows of that second pond grew a plant that, because of reflections, seemed to be floating in clouds:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 15, 2019 at 4:47 AM

46 Responses

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  1. That’s a lot of driving. Hope you charged all the gas to some card that gives you more miles. The views of the ponds are lovely but, as you might imagine, I’m most taken with the reflection. Those clouds make a wonderful canvas for the small watery hillock.

    Steve Gingold

    August 15, 2019 at 5:20 AM

    • In several museums we saw paintings by René Magritte, who enjoyed painting things and people in places where they aren’t found in the real world. A plant floating in clouds would have been right up his imaginary alley.

      Our Costco Visa business card gives 4% cash back on gasoline purchases and 3% on hotels (which were our biggest expense by far).

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 15, 2019 at 6:22 AM

  2. Oh, I LOVE that last little sprig. You could also have called this post ‘green.’

    Always great to check back in with the past occasionally. I look forward to other posts, though I will be checking back sporadically … life is ramping back up here again.

    Speaking of museums, we all went to see the Menil Collection (finally) and walked the midday heat Sunday to see all the surrounding sculptures. Houston is quite an eclectic mix of modern and ancient. Here’s where I spent most of my time in awe.


    August 15, 2019 at 7:32 AM

    • Wow, what a coincidence: we visited the Menil on Sunday, too! We were there waiting when it opened at 11:00, having driven from Lake Charles, Louisiana that morning. And like you, I enjoyed the Surrealist section. You may have noticed that with repect to the photograph of the sprig that you singled out I mentioned Magritte in my reply to Steve Gingold’s comment. I’d even thought about contacting you and Linda, but given the summer heat and how tired we were after 26 days, I thought it best to leave a Houston-area people visit for another time.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 15, 2019 at 7:57 AM

      • OH MY GOSH!! We were there together. My whole family and another couple (high school friends) roamed Menil until 1p or so. Coincidental indeed.

        The water ‘sound and shadow’ exhibit was also amazing. Did you know the concrete blocks were frozen beforehand and are melting to get that effect?


        August 15, 2019 at 8:24 AM

        • I wonder if we walked past one another at some point. Did you notice a guy with white hair and beard walking with a Filipina?

          Yes, we saw that exhibit. I initially looked up to see how the water was being delivered to the blocks but I didn’t see any way that was possible. Then I read the brochure and saw that the blocks were hung already frozen. I wonder how long each ice block lasts before melting away altogether.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 15, 2019 at 9:11 AM

          • I am certain we did, but no, I was wall-watching rather than people-watching.

            On the sensory immersion exhibit, if it was water trickling, the water would have found its favorite path down, then just stayed on its path (save movement from the source). It would have to be a random melting event in order for the occasional drip to hit the pipe or piano wire. I wonder too how many times daily it gets replaced or if it’s enough to last from opening to closing.


            August 15, 2019 at 9:19 AM

            • I also wondered how many times daily the ice gets replaced. We could call the Menil and ask.

              Steve Schwartzman

              August 15, 2019 at 9:52 AM

      • This is the Magritte I would love hanging in my living room.


        August 15, 2019 at 8:28 AM

        • Speaking of ice, I remember looking at that painting and thinking the title was typically Magritte in that it seemed divorced from the picture: no key, no ice.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 15, 2019 at 9:13 AM

      • It would have been great to see you, but believe me — I understand having had too much of the heat, and being tired from travel. I’ve not even been able to post a new entry, except at Lagniappe; at the end of the day, thinking and writing just haven’t been possible.

        Sunday was a good day for us to miss each other, though, as I was in east Texas. You may remember my mention of the woman who called me in the midst of mowing her yard to tell me there were Spiranthes popping up there. It turns out she’s a member of the Houston Orchid Society, and when I told her about the wild orchids at the Watson Preserve, she asked if I’d take her to find them — so off we went. It was a long day, but a good one, and as lagniappe we got to see two more Carolina lilies.


        August 16, 2019 at 6:42 AM

        • Beyond fatigue and heat, the reason I didn’t try to arrange a meeting was that I’d seen your comment about “a day that’s going to be a hot, sweaty mess,” so I knew you already had plans in east Texas and wouldn’t be available. It’s good to hear your day turned out a multiple success.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 16, 2019 at 7:58 AM

  3. Wonderful photos of the pond, Steve. What a long and dynamic journey, hope it was fun.

    Jet Eliot

    August 15, 2019 at 8:02 AM

    • It was fun and we accomplished a lot, including getting to know places we’d not been to before, like Cincinnati and Toronto. At the same time, 26 days on the road is fatiguing, and we were glad to be home again.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 15, 2019 at 8:07 AM

  4. Wow that’s some road trip! road/reflection/remembrance trip. Those are all lovely shots, especially the islet floating in the clouds.

    Robert Parker

    August 15, 2019 at 10:09 AM

    • Rather than the three Rs of Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic you’ve coined the new triumvirate of Road, Reflection, and Remembrance.

      Sometimes I feel, like the islet, that I’m floating in the clouds.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 15, 2019 at 10:35 AM

    • I should add that you’re likely to recognize a few places that’ll turn up in posts highlighting this trip.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 15, 2019 at 12:21 PM

  5. Gorgeous!


    August 15, 2019 at 12:50 PM

  6. Cool shots–in all the ways that “cool” represents!


    August 15, 2019 at 1:45 PM

  7. The first three photos of the ponds remind me of Arkansas: the intense green, the mixed woods, the sense of enclosure, the placidness. It’s such a different world, and so appealing. It’s interesting that each of those photos picks up different shades of green, as well. There may not be an infinite number of greens, but there certainly are a lot.

    Hot summer days are a good time for swimming pool floats and ice cream floats, but your plant float’s the best!


    August 16, 2019 at 6:23 AM

    • I’m not surprised you see a resemblance to Arkansas, which we’d crossed the day before and whose border was maybe 20 miles from the first pond. The varying shades of green in the three photos are in part real, in part a consequence of the lighting, and in part a result of processing. Reality remains elusive.

      I’m glad you floated your comment about the last picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 16, 2019 at 7:52 AM

  8. I really like the contrasting shades of green in the first photo and of course the reflections in the water. Trips are fun but I’ll bet you’re glad to be home.


    August 16, 2019 at 9:22 AM

    • Aye, after 26 days of moving around at an average of close to 200 miles per day, it was a relief to be back in our own home again.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 16, 2019 at 2:51 PM

      • Paul and our daughter Kate just went to Washington DC for a conference. They took 2 days to get there but only one coming home. Pretty wiped out by then.


        August 17, 2019 at 7:59 AM

        • In 2002 I spent one very long day driving from Charlotte (North Carolina) to Austin. This time I split that same trek up over four days. I still don’t understand how I was able to do 1200 miles in one day. That trudge in 2002 remains by far the longest one-day drive in my life.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 17, 2019 at 8:31 AM

          • Oh my gosh. I don’t know how you did that!
            Oh cool~our tornado sirens are going off. I’d better head to the basement now…


            August 18, 2019 at 7:46 AM

            • Sorry about those tornado sirens. I was concerned on this trip that we could get a tornado on the northern route out and a hurricane on the southern route back. Aside from several relatively brief thunderstorms, though, the weather left us alone.

              Steve Schwartzman

              August 18, 2019 at 7:52 AM

              • That is good to hear. Our sirens only went off for a second, and then quit. It was quite a storm, though. At one point I looked out and my hickory tree was bent over to the ground! Nothing broken, amazingly enough.


                August 19, 2019 at 9:08 AM

                • Hooray for your hickory.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  August 19, 2019 at 11:25 AM

                • Yeah who knew a hickory could touch its toes and live to tell about it?


                  August 20, 2019 at 8:46 AM

            • On that 1200-mile drive in 2002 I left Charlotte in the morning, planning to spend the night on the Gulf coast in Alabama or Mississippi. When I got to the coast I still had plenty of daylight so I figured I’d see how much farther I could get. Then, by the time I hit the Texas border I decided to keep pushing. I pulled into our driveway in Austin around 1 in the morning.

              Steve Schwartzman

              August 18, 2019 at 8:17 AM

              • Whoo boy, I’ll bet your eyes felt like sandpaper by that point.


                August 19, 2019 at 9:06 AM

                • I can’t remember how my eyes felt but my “I” was happy and relieved to be home at last.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  August 19, 2019 at 11:24 AM

  9. Beautiful captured reflections, Steve! I especially love that last one.

    Lavinia Ross

    August 17, 2019 at 3:05 PM

  10. Methinks there is a theme associated with your photos. What could it be…? 🙂


    August 17, 2019 at 6:05 PM

  11. A lot of driving, but I’m sure it was a great trip. These photos are just beautiful!


    August 30, 2019 at 7:17 PM

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