Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

South Fork of the San Gabriel River

with 33 comments

As often as I’ve photographed along the North Fork of the San Gabriel River at Tejas Camp in Williamson County, I’d never photographed along the South Fork till September 18th, when we visited the relatively recent Garey Park in the southwest corner of Georgetown.

All three of these landscape pictures show the eons-long erosive effect of water streaming against rock.

In case you’re wondering about the yellow-green stuff at the edge of the water, it’s duckweed (Lemna minor), which forms floating mats. On one such mat I found a tiny grasshopper.

Click to enlarge.

Here’s an unrelated thought for today: “Dear, sweet, unforgettable childhood! Why does that irrevocable time, forever departed, seem brighter, more festive, and richer than it actually was?” — Anton Chekhov, The Bishop (1902).

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 6, 2020 at 4:24 AM

33 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. What captivating rock formations—the more I look, the more they look like plump (the first image) and sleek (the third) lizards peering out and keeping sentinel watch over the river.


    October 6, 2020 at 5:10 AM

    • You have a mighty imagination this morning (which is what it is for me now) to turn these limestone rock formations into plump and sleek lizard sentinels.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 6, 2020 at 5:24 AM

    • Having read your comment, that’s how I’m seeing the rocks now…I didn’t see it before. Shows how others influence us! 🙂

      Ann Mackay

      October 6, 2020 at 9:48 AM

  2. It really is fascinating the different shapes water creates from stone, given enough time. Glad to hear you have another park to visit.

    Todd Henson

    October 6, 2020 at 6:02 AM

    • What I like so much about western states like Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and South Dakota is the way wind and water acting over eons have so noticeably shaped the land. While those effects are evident only on a smaller scale in central Texas, they’re still to be prized, perhaps all the more because of their scarcity. As for Garey Park, I’m wondering what it looks like in the spring.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 6, 2020 at 9:46 AM

      • I hear you. Here in Virginia we don’t see it quite as much, but when I lived in Arizona and New Mexico it was all around. I recall the long drive south from Tucson and all the amazing formations along the roadside. And what you mentioned is another great thing about finding a new park, getting to explore it throughout the year, seeing how it shifts and changes.

        Todd Henson

        October 7, 2020 at 9:57 AM

        • I’ve covered the route south of Tucson several times in the last five or six years and would gladly explore that territory again. As for Garey Park, it has a great meadow, and that’s where I’m hoping wildflowers will abound in the spring.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 7, 2020 at 4:04 PM

  3. No lizards for me. In the first two photos, the rocks seem more like really good biscuits, ready to be split and buttered. The third photo’s especially interesting. It looks like a waterfall’s streaming across the rock, but I suspect runoff has smoothed it and left mineral deposits behind. I’ve never seen a white shadow, but that seems to qualify.

    I don’t remember hearing much, if anything, about the San Gabriel. I didn’t realize it’s part of the Brazos River drainage system. I read the TSHAOnline article, and loved this: “Major tributaries of the San Gabriel are Brushy, Alligator, Opossum, Berry, Pecan, Little, and Oatmeal creeks.” I wonder how Oatmeal got in that list?

    As for the eons-long corrosive effects of water, sometimes water works its will much faster than that. I’d not been to the coast since Beta, and when I stopped by the Hamby Nature Trail on Saturday, I was shocked to see the dunes gone. For that matter, the steps at the end of the boardwalk and a portion of the boardwalk itself had been pulled loose, picked up, and deposited well inland. It’s quite a different place now. When the mosquitoes are gone, I’ll go back for more photos.


    October 6, 2020 at 6:32 AM

    • What a good concept: a white shadow. Back in the days of chemical photography I used to see white shadows in prints of negatives.

      I’m glad you mentioned the TSHA article, which I hadn’t pursued. Looking at it now I found this interesting fact: “The San Gabriel was named Río de San Francisco Xavier by the Ramón expedition in 1716 and also figured in the journals of the Aguayo expedition of 1721. On his map of 1829 Stephen F. Austin mistakenly labeled the river “San Javriel,” a spurious name that evolved into the present one.”

      As for Hamby, the erosion time scale sure is different with sand than with rock, as you’ve attested. I assume stagnant water left over from your recent heavy rainfalls accounts for the plague of mosquitos.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 6, 2020 at 9:56 AM

    • As for the name Oatmeal, people have put forth two explanations:

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 6, 2020 at 10:00 AM

  4. I should have bought stock in duckweed in 1980. Out of sight now.


    October 6, 2020 at 7:40 AM

    • I think you can still get in on grasshoppers, though…although I expect it is poised to jump.


      October 6, 2020 at 8:40 AM

      • Thanks for the stock tip, though I’m not sure I’ll jump at the chance to follow up on it. I’ll probably duck your offer.

        Steve Schwartzman

        October 6, 2020 at 10:06 AM

        • Quack.


          October 6, 2020 at 9:36 PM

    • You’re funny. You’ve also reminded me that the late-1960s exclamation “Out of sight!” is now out of sight.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 6, 2020 at 10:02 AM

  5. Looking at the erosion of these mighty rocks caused by water over millions of years reminds me of the German proverb: Ein steter Tropfen höhlt den Stein.

    Peter Klopp

    October 6, 2020 at 9:02 AM

    • Thank for the new (to me) proverb. Interestingly, every one of the six words has an English relative: an, steady, drip, hole, the, stone.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 6, 2020 at 10:11 AM

  6. Another place I need to go! 🙂


    October 6, 2020 at 11:55 AM

    • It was pleasant, and I’m hoping the main meadow will be filled with wildflowers in the spring.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 6, 2020 at 12:03 PM

  7. Perhaps these rocks will someday look the the “hoodoos” of southern Utah.
    I’ve heard Peter’s proverb in several forms, sometimes attributed to European sayings, sometimes to Lao-Tse. “Constant dropping wears away the stone.” Or my version, from a faulty faucet in a bad apartment years ago “Constant dripping wears on your nerves.”

    Robert Parker

    October 6, 2020 at 12:18 PM

    • Your last version accords with the purpose of the supposed ancient Chinese water torture. Lots of quotations have been attributed to Lao-Tse and Confucius as well as Plato, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, etc.

      I wish we could speed things up so I could have Utah-style hoodoos as close to home as the San Gabriel River.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 6, 2020 at 12:29 PM

  8. I love your little grasshopper. Maybe its littleness inspired you to think of the quote about the nostalgia we associate with our childhoods, even if it wasn’t ideal.


    October 9, 2020 at 10:30 PM

    • You’re the first person who’s mentioned the little grasshopper. While I made no conscious leap from it to the quotation about childhood, who knows what subconscious connection there might have been?

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 10, 2020 at 6:18 AM

      • Our subconscious is mysterious and labyrinthine…


        October 12, 2020 at 12:12 PM

        • Some pronounce labyrinthine to rhyme with mean, others to rhyme with mine, and still others use the form labyrinthian. What subconscious factors determine a person’s preferred form, I don’t know.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 12, 2020 at 12:46 PM

  9. Interesting rock formation Steve .. and well spotted grass hopper!


    October 14, 2020 at 1:31 PM

    • We have quite a few eroded rock formations along streams in central Texas. People from elsewhere—and even quite a few from here—probably don’t know that. I noticed several of those tiny grasshoppers on the duckweed and in the adjacent water.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 14, 2020 at 1:37 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 )

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: