Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

More from the San Marcos Springs

with 47 comments

On February 23rd we went to Spring Lake in San Marcos, fed by the San Marcos Springs, which as you’ve heard “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.” The folks at the Meadows Center have created a boardwalk that lets visitors walk through a wetland adjacent to the main part of the lake, and there a dense colony of dry cattails caught my attention.

Facing in the opposite direction, I’d photographed heaps of turtles sunning themselves on logs in the water.

Click to enlarge.

And here’s an important thought for our own times from a speech by Frederick Douglass in Boston in 1860:

Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. It is the right which they first of all strike down. They know its power…. There can be no right of speech where any man, however lifted up, or however humble, however young, or however old, is overawed by force, and compelled to suppress his honest sentiments. Equally clear is the right to hear. To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 13, 2021 at 4:44 AM

47 Responses

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  1. I really like all the turtles.


    March 13, 2021 at 5:11 AM

  2. what a beautiful spot


    March 13, 2021 at 5:52 AM

    • It was a good place to have visited that day. The area shown in today’s post is a part of the preserve we’s not visited before.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 13, 2021 at 6:34 AM

  3. Wonderful to see the cattails and hear about the ancient background of San Marcos Springs, Steve. That turtle photo is delightful.

    Jet Eliot

    March 13, 2021 at 9:29 AM

    • I’m really fond of cattails and have taken many pictures of them over the years. This dense bunch naturally appealed to me. With the turtles, I wish they’d been closer or I’d had a longer focal length. What you see in the picture here is cropped a good deal from the full frame. And yes, the San Marcos Springs are of great prehistoric interest.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 13, 2021 at 10:15 AM

  4. Your quote on the freedom of speech is an important message to all in our modern times. Thank you, Steve, for digging up this quote!

    Peter Klopp

    March 13, 2021 at 9:38 AM

    • During the months on end of rioting that took place in the United States last year (and that continues in a couple of cities not all that far from you), even a statue of Frederick Douglass got torn down.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 13, 2021 at 10:23 AM

  5. Sadly, the quote is all too relevant to a number of places at the moment. I’m amused by the turtle pile-up! I guess some are using others as a handy prop!

    Ann Mackay

    March 13, 2021 at 10:50 AM

  6. I like the three turtles at the far right of the second photo, doing the conga!


    March 13, 2021 at 3:15 PM

    • Can it still be a conga if it’s motionless?

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 13, 2021 at 4:48 PM

    • Speaking of which, this morning I looked at today’s schedule for KLRU-Q and came across this title:
      Doing The Reptile Rumba From the Rainforest of Ranomafana.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 14, 2021 at 7:01 AM

  7. I love the turtle party!

    Eliza Waters

    March 13, 2021 at 4:23 PM

  8. That’s a lot of turtles. Muddy too.

    Steve Gingold

    March 13, 2021 at 5:10 PM

  9. Even an educated opinion based on available data can be problematic. I don’t really think that there is as much freedom of speech as people tend to believe. Perhaps by comparison, there’s some. I often find myself biting my tongue, silence is golden.

    Alessandra Chaves

    March 13, 2021 at 9:45 PM

    • Many immigrants, like my father and his family, came to America to get away from oppression in their home country. I’m sorry but no longer surprised to hear that you, as an immigrant here, often find yourself biting your tongue, even in the case of an educated opinion based on data. Things have gotten noticeably worse in recent years, and especially in this past year. That’s why when I came across the quotation from Frederick Douglass yesterday I felt I should include it here, even in a blog ostensibly about nature photography.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 13, 2021 at 10:06 PM

  10. I think oppression happens more at the community level. I was Deleted by a facebook friend I used to run with because I wrote, in a reply to her comment, that there’s no data supporting… and there wasn’t or isn’t… well, I don’t want to start an argument on your blog, so finish the sentence as you wish… Where I work, 99% of the scientists are in favor of a political party and one who likes the other keeps the mouth shut, doesn’t want to feel ostracized. Americans have a lot of freedom of speech and so do Brazilians at this point in history, in the sense that government persecution is unlikely as a result of speaking up, but lots can happen to a person as a result of community oppression, like loosing a job, friends etc.

    Alessandra Chaves

    March 14, 2021 at 7:50 AM

    • Yes, that’s it: most oppression these days has been coming from the community, including large corporations and social media companies. As you pointed out, people with minority beliefs often feel like they’re walking on eggshells, to use a common simile. In addition, there is some government oppression in the United States. In the 2010s, for example, the IRS made it hard for many conservative groups to get non-profit tax status even though the groups clearly qualified for that status. Over the past year, authorities in some cities and states have refused to prosecute rioters whose political beliefs they agree with.

      As you also pointed out, it’s a shame that some supposedly scientific groups ignore data and other evidence in order to promote certain dogmas. What a sorry time to be living in.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 14, 2021 at 9:50 AM

  11. I loved all the sunning turtles!


    March 14, 2021 at 10:17 AM

  12. The turtle image made me smile BIG! I rarely see that many together, so what a treat you gave us!! I like the quote – a lot. I admit to be going through a time where I can’t talk to people at all. I’ve had some run-in’s with a few friends and a couple of family members. I consider many people lost sheep who cannot see or maybe refuse to see what is happening in this country. I vacillate between frustration and anger, to feeling depressed.


    March 14, 2021 at 11:51 AM

    • I’ve felt more depressed with the state of the country in the last year than at probably any other time in my life, or at least since the Vietnam era, so I empathize with you. All the better, then, that the turtles drew a big smile from you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 14, 2021 at 1:19 PM

      • I try to spend as much time outdoors and in nature as I can. I have had to tune out many people, and I rarely watch anything on TV other than an occasional weather report. I have never experienced anything in my life like what is happening in our country. It’s evil and toxic.


        March 14, 2021 at 2:25 PM

  13. The turtles are a wonderful thing! To see so many sunning together. I haven’t seen a gathering like that since I was a youngster.

    Lavinia Ross

    March 14, 2021 at 12:19 PM

  14. Every now and then, particularly out in the country, I still hear ‘fun’ used as a verb: “are you funning me?” or “we was just funnin’ him.” (At least I think that’s a verb. A gerund?) As for colloquialisms, your second photo reminds me of another phrase: “slower than a herd of turtles.” That group’s as close to a herd of turtles as I’ve ever seen.

    I like the first image, too. I saw your water lily pads as pancakes, and the long, straight canes suggested strips of bacon, so here’s a fun title: “Pancakes and Bakin’.” That would work best on a warm day, of course.


    March 14, 2021 at 2:48 PM

    • I’ve not heard of a herd of turtles, though I have seen this scene with many of them in it.
      Once in a rare while I’ve also heard fun as a verb. Was funning is what’s known as a progressive tense of the verb, specifically the past progressive:
      The second part of a progressive tense is formally identical to a gerund but is put to a different grammatical use. A gerund serves as a noun. For example, “Practicing leads to mastering.” And we’re going back to the progressive when someone suggests you’re hamming it up with your suggested title.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 14, 2021 at 3:04 PM

  15. Another good quote.. from 1860?! Mankind will never learn from past mistakes. A depressing reality. At least nature is oblivious to it all and carries on regardless.


    March 15, 2021 at 2:53 AM

    • Frederick Douglass, a former slave, became duly famous as a nineteenth-century abolitionist. For all that I’d heard or read about him throughout my life, only the other day did I come across this quotation. It’s alarming, a century and a half after the end of slavery in the United States, how many people here have turned against freedom of thought and speech—and you’ve corroborated that it’s not just in this country.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 15, 2021 at 7:03 AM

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