Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

White wandered in

with 54 comments

White wandered into Austin sometime between late Wednesday night and early yesterday morning in the form of a slight coating of snow or something akin to snow. Whatever it was, I knew it would melt as soon as the sun rose high enough and the day warmed up, so out I went yesterday morning to take photographic advantage of something that happens here only once every several years.

The dry seed heads in the second picture are horsemint, Monarda citriodora.
The leaf below belongs to a greenbrier vine, Smilax bona-nox.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 7, 2020 at 4:37 AM

54 Responses

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  1. Wow! I had no idea you’d have fluff in your neck of the woods! Your snowy images are beautiful! We received 5 to 6 inches in our area, but the next day more than half of it melted and I suspect by the end of today it will have vanished! Unfortunately, I did not have a lot of time to go out with Tukker to photograph his first snow. I have only a few images on my iPhone. It was just too cold and miserable to spend time walking out there. Ten years ago, I could have spent hours out there trekking around with the camera! I’m sure feeling my age.

    Lori Brock

    February 7, 2020 at 7:00 AM

    • Ah, what I wouldn’t give for 5 or 6 inches of snow here. We got barely an inch. Still, it was better than nothing, and the first trace in years. Unlike your miserable weather, yesterday here was a fine day, and all I had to contend with in my two hours of picture-taking was the cold, along with some wet and therefore somewhat muddy ground. I understand what you mean about feeling your age: don’t we all?

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 7, 2020 at 8:28 AM

  2. Great shots, Steve. The itty-bitty bit of snow was fun!


    February 7, 2020 at 7:39 AM

  3. The horsemint shot is great (and we should make sure every pasture has some of that growing, no one likes a horse with oat-y breath). The picture immediately suggested those tiered dessert trays, that they have at wedding receptions or fancy cafés.

    Robert Parker

    February 7, 2020 at 7:51 AM

    • Your parenthetical suggestion is very much you. To follow up on your wedding metaphor: nature is my dessert tray. You might even call me a bigamist, married as I am to my photography.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 7, 2020 at 8:51 AM

  4. I am so glad to see that Mother Nature finally gave you a chance to take some amazing photos of her white splendour which is so rare in your neck of the woods.

    Peter Klopp

    February 7, 2020 at 8:29 AM

    • You know how I envy you your snow and ice—at least for photographs. Now I finally had a brief shot at a little bit of snow.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 7, 2020 at 8:53 AM

  5. Glad you took advantage! I envy the horsemint image. The soft blue monotone and the perfectly controlled DOF are magnificent.

    Michael Scandling

    February 7, 2020 at 9:38 AM

  6. Congratulations on getting some snow, even though it was short-lived!

    Lavinia Ross

    February 7, 2020 at 10:00 AM

  7. I knew they would be special, and they are. I love the snow flakes nestled in the lichen, and vertical repeating pattern of the seedhead with snow is gorgeous.


    February 7, 2020 at 10:16 AM

    • No way was I going to pass up the chance to do something with snow. I struggled to get that lichen picture because other branches of the tree kept getting in my way, and in some of the places where I stood I cast a shadow on the subject. Even with this picture, probably the best of the lot, I had to crop judiciously to get rid of out-of-focus things.

      Horsemint seed heads, which I often think of as pagodas, often linger through summer, fall, and winter, and sometimes even past the next spring’s flowering season.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 7, 2020 at 2:12 PM

  8. Lovely, ephemeral impressions, Steve. I am glad you captured them before they disappeared.


    February 7, 2020 at 10:30 AM

    • Me too. For once I had a chance to experience a little bit of what’s normal for you every winter.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 7, 2020 at 2:15 PM

  9. I am envious as today all we’ve seen is rain and more rain. A dusting would be nice. Of course, this is special for you and I am glad you not only had some but took advantage. I rather like the first image with its complex winding of lichen and crystals.

    Steve Gingold

    February 7, 2020 at 12:58 PM

    • After your many great ice portraits in recent weeks, I finally had a brief shot at something cold and crystalline. I was pleased that the lichen photo came out as well as it did.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 7, 2020 at 2:18 PM

      • Glad that you had the chance. Now if you can return the favor and somehow send us some early wildflowers that would be great.

        Steve Gingold

        February 7, 2020 at 2:32 PM

        • Gladly, if only it were possible….

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 7, 2020 at 2:34 PM

          • Of course. Actually, when we have warmer times like this there is always the worry of premature budding and/or flowering which ends up disastrously. We have a wisteria that has just successfully and prolongedly flowered once because of that.

            Steve Gingold

            February 7, 2020 at 2:37 PM

            • That happens here, too, but less often and less severely than I imagine is the case up north.

              Steve Schwartzman

              February 7, 2020 at 2:50 PM

  10. Here in Fredericksburg we didn’t even have a single snowflake. 😦


    February 7, 2020 at 8:31 PM

    • Oh, too bad. I’d have thought that your generally cooler location in the Edwards Plateau would make you more likely to get snow.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 7, 2020 at 8:33 PM

      • It may be the location of Fredericksburg: moisture seems to come down somewhere else quite often.


        February 7, 2020 at 9:09 PM

        • Maybe it’s time for Fredericksburg to consider relocating.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 8, 2020 at 6:29 AM

          • Naaa! 😀


            February 8, 2020 at 7:53 AM

            • I didn’t think you’d go for that idea.

              Steve Schwartzman

              February 8, 2020 at 8:01 AM

              • No, I definitely wouldn’t. But some snow once in a while would be appreciated.


                February 8, 2020 at 8:15 AM

                • Perhaps a winter vacation to a snowy place, say the Rockies or the Alps, would do it for you.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 8, 2020 at 8:18 AM

                • Well, after we had to cancel many of our planned activities in Alaska and after we have really come to love that part of the US, maybe a winter vacation there would be great. In fact, we’re thinking of a winter holiday in Fairbanks some time soon.
                  That not withstanding, I wouldn’t mind the snow coming here, too.


                  February 8, 2020 at 8:38 AM

                • Then let’s hope for another white go-round.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 8, 2020 at 11:05 AM

                • Agreed!


                  February 8, 2020 at 11:14 AM

  11. My long-lived liking for lichens is fondly fueled by your fine first photo! So fortunate that you were able to take part in this rare opportunity.


    February 7, 2020 at 11:39 PM

    • I’m happy to hear you harbor lichenous likings.
      On the South Island there are many opportunities for ice pictures, but my understanding is that you don’t stay in NZ for the winter.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 8, 2020 at 6:28 AM

      • That’s right; we usually spend something like mid-June through late September in MN’s north woods. It doesn’t freeze up here in Auckland, but the winters are very chilly, very gray & wet, and very windy. We far prefer summer at the lake!


        February 8, 2020 at 1:25 PM

        • Maybe one year you’ll do a little jaunt down to the Southern Alps before heading for Minnesota.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 8, 2020 at 2:53 PM

          • I’ve been to Milford Sound, of course, and also through Arthur’s Pass about a half-dozen times, Lewis twice, and Haast once, but will jump at any opportunity to visit them again!


            February 9, 2020 at 1:45 PM

            • From where you are now, those places are just a hop, skip, and jump compared to how far they are from Minnesota.

              Steve Schwartzman

              February 9, 2020 at 5:28 PM

  12. The greenbrier leaf looks like an early Valentine. And you’re right about the way the horsemint seed heads and new flowers overlap. Yesterday at the Artist Boat I saw exactly that. The new growth was a little ratty — it had been nipped by the cold — but it was colorful. In another week it might be possible to get a photo with flowers and seed heads together.

    I especially like the naturally monochrome image of the monarda; it’s as wintery as anything from farther north. It would be a hard choice between that and the snowy lichen as a favorite. Snow and green always make for an appealing combination.


    February 9, 2020 at 9:27 AM

    • Eve also immediately saw the greenbrier leaf as a heart, which is appropriate for this coming week, as you pointed out. If Valentine’s Day is at hand, can spring be far behind?

      Speaking of flowers, as an afterthought I wished I’d gone hunting for some flowers with snow on them. By the time I realized the chance I’d missed, it was probably too late.

      I agree that the cool cast in the picture of the pale tan horsemint makes for an almost monochrome look.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 9, 2020 at 9:39 AM

  13. Wonderful observations and images. The Horsemint image is my favorite!


    February 13, 2020 at 9:31 AM

    • I often see this kind of tiered dry horsemint, but never with snow on it. For once it’s like something from your cold part of the world.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 13, 2020 at 5:09 PM

  14. You made the best of it!


    February 23, 2020 at 2:33 PM

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