Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Continuously inhabited for 12,000 years

with 32 comments

Spring Lake in San Marcos, fed by the San Marcos Springs, “is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in North America. Artifacts discovered in digs conducted from 1979 to 1982 date back 12,000 years.” On a sunny February 23rd we went there for the first time in years and enjoyed seeing the purity of the water. Whether the amount of algae on the surface was reasonable or problematic, I don’t know. I do know that it provided plenty of visual interest and led to some abstract views like the one below.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 8, 2021 at 4:39 AM

32 Responses

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  1. The location is the heart of Texas, or the liver, maybe.


    March 8, 2021 at 6:32 AM

  2. There should be more places like this one….


    March 8, 2021 at 6:33 AM

  3. Good contrasting colours.


    March 8, 2021 at 7:03 AM

  4. Whether the amount of algae’s reasonable or problematic I can’t say, but I did find the same sort of growth on the surface of some water at the San Bernard refuge yesterday. I didn’t stop for a closer look or photos, as I found it at the end of a long day, but if it’s still around on my next visit I’ll take a better look. It surprises me that you found it in a spring-fed lake, but I suppose any number of factors could have contributed. The colorful abstraction you created reminds me of images taken by the Hubble telescope.


    March 8, 2021 at 7:29 AM

    • Your comparison to images of the cosmos reminds me of the phrase “as above, so below.” Scientists have pointed out from time to time the similar configuration in certain things at very different scales; that similitude is at the heart of fractals.

      Let’s see what you come away with from the San Bernard Refuge the next time you’re there and have energy.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 8, 2021 at 7:47 AM

  5. You captured some beautiful blues and greens. I’m curious about the algae as to whether it’s a healthy thing for the lake or wildlife. I have fished waters like that and the fish seem to keep shaded in such places, but makes fishing a challenge. This particular area of the lake must be sheltered from wind or you managed to find a windless day.


    March 8, 2021 at 7:33 AM

    • I don’t recall it being windy that day—in contrast to our outing nine days later to Pedernales Falls, where I took photographic advantage of the breeze-borne ripples on the surface of the water. I’m thinking now that before I put out this post I should’ve called the Meadows Center to ask about the algae. If I found out, I’ll add an update.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 8, 2021 at 7:51 AM

  6. Nice shot. A few summers ago we went backcountry camping on a lake that had an alarming number of algae blooms. We brought a water filter and some water purification tablets, but we ended up paddling back to the main gatehouse to refill our water bottles as we didn’t trust the lake water. Luckily it wasn’t too long of a paddle (maybe an hour and a half round trip). Not ideal, but gave us peace of mind.


    March 8, 2021 at 7:37 AM

    • I recently heard an algae alert for a place here in Austin, warning people not to let their dogs go in that water. It sounds like you did the right thing in not trusting your water purification tablets and going back for water you were sure was safe.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 8, 2021 at 7:55 AM

  7. I paddled the San Marcos River from the springs as a rite of passage since I was very young. I NEVER saw algae blooming in that pristine water. I’m certain that it has to do with the water temperature, another sign of a warming planet.


    March 8, 2021 at 7:57 AM

    • Based on what you said about never seeing algae there I called the Meadows Center and left a message to see if I can find out the source of the algae and whether it’s a problem.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 8, 2021 at 10:34 AM

  8. The second photo is another great example of abstract paintings with your camera, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    March 8, 2021 at 9:02 AM

    • You got me wondering what compound word German would have built to convey the notion of abstraction. When I checked I found you’ve borrowed Abstraktion from French.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 8, 2021 at 10:00 AM

  9. Love the abstract quality algae has. Lovely setting, Steve.

    Jane Lurie

    March 8, 2021 at 9:08 AM

  10. There was an article in Science recently about the Andromeda galaxy and the Milky Way having their black holes collide and merge into one. Quite a few billion years in the future, fortunately for us. I wonder if San Marcos will still be inhabited then. Sometimes algae blooms are as lovely as our gardens or Texas bluebonnet fields..

    Steve Gingold

    March 8, 2021 at 10:30 AM

    • San Marcos was inhabited 12,000 years ago but somehow I doubt people will still be living there billions of years from now. And yes, algae blooms, even if problematic, provide some great visual effects for those of us who deal in such things.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 8, 2021 at 10:38 AM

  11. The algal mat makes a gorgeous abstract.

    Lavinia Ross

    March 8, 2021 at 6:10 PM

  12. It sure does provide visual interest .. hopefully it isn’t problematic .. The water looks crystal clear


    March 14, 2021 at 3:27 AM

    • I spoke with someone at the Meadows Center but never did get a definitive answer about whether the algae there is a problem.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 14, 2021 at 5:37 AM

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