Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Return to the Floresville Cemetery

with 31 comments

Across a swathe of territory below San Antonio, the spring of 2019 proved a fabulous season for wildflowers; someone told us he’d heard it was the best in 10 years. One place that provided many pictures then was the city cemetery in the aptly named Floresville (flores means flowers in Spanish), a town it takes about two hours to drive to from our home in Austin. On April 2nd of this year, now feeling somewhat freed from the isolation of 2020, we headed back to that cemetery in hopes of finding it as bloomful as in 2019.

While the flowers growing among the graves weren’t as numerous as two years ago, a field along the northeast edge of the cemetery offered wildflowers at least as abundant as they’d been two years earlier. The red-orange ones are Indian paintbrushes, Castilleja indivisa. I take the white ones to be Aphanostephus skirrhobasis, known as lazy daisies or doze-daisies because they generally don’t open up till midday.

And here’s a thought for today: “People shouldn’t expect the cavalry to come to save them. The cavalry is you.” — Douglas Murray, 2021. That’s reminiscent of the venerable saying “God helps those who help themselves,” which many people incorrectly think is in the Bible. It’s actually from Algernon Sydney’s Discourses Concerning Government, published in 1698.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 7, 2021 at 4:35 AM

31 Responses

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  1. Clearly, great minds think alike — or at least they did in regard to this daisy. After some middle of the night pondering, I decided on A. skirrhobasis, too. What I thought might be a separate species apparently is a variety. In his book on wildflowers of Texas beaches and islands, Alfred Richardson says that there are “three named varieties that are difficult to distinguish. The most widespread is var. thalassius. I’m happy to know that, but I’m not going to worry about sorting them out. Lazy daisy it is!

    It’s fun that we saw the same flowers in real time.. It looks like the gangliness I noticed in the paintbrush already was beginning to develop when you were there. I noticed that a couple of narrow paths had been mowed around the perimeter of the flowers, too. It didn’t occur to me until right this minute that the few patches of flattened flowers I noticed weren’t from deer bedding down — they probably were made by people engaging in photo ops.

    shoreacres

    April 7, 2021 at 6:47 AM

    • We mustn’t forget the variety of lazy daisy known as lazy photographer.
      Speaking of real time and people taking pictures, after we arrived at the cemetery in Floresville we ended up parking next to the car of a young couple who spent a lot of time taking pictures of their two kids and themselves in several parts of this field. The next day, when I checked the Facebook Texas Wildflowers group, which I’ve been doing regularly to learn about good places to photograph, I found several pictures showing that very family. I left a comment saying we were the couple that had parked next them the day before. Turns out they’d driven up from the Rio Grande Valley, and we’d driven down from Austin, only to meet in the Floresville cemetery.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 7, 2021 at 7:07 AM

  2. A popular saying in Brazil says “ God helps those who wake up early” (Deus ajuda quem madruga). I bet you did go see these flowers two hours from home. The wildflower spots here in the Central Valley are so crowded now. People’s usual activities like going to the office, church, gym, club, are all disrupted and the outdoors is all we have. Any day of the week, outdoors, crowds, I’m sure the opposite of what state regulations have intended to happen.

    Alessandra Chaves

    April 7, 2021 at 7:35 AM

    • For the past thirteen months I’ve been spending a lot of time outdoors because that’s generally been a safe place to go during the pandemic. As you pointed out, however, other people have had the same idea, so some places in nature have been more crowded than I liked. Even so, being outdoors, I could go around groups of people. From my decades in the Austin area, I also know places where few other people go.

      Your appropriate Portuguese-language proverb has a nice sound to it, even though the d and g in ajuda and madruga keep the words from actually rhyming. That’s evidence for the conjecture that in at least some circumstances vowels are more important than consonants.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 7, 2021 at 11:07 AM

      • They actually rhyme… You may not be pronouncing the words right…

        Alessandra Chaves

        April 7, 2021 at 11:39 AM

        • Does -uda come out sounding the same as -uga? I’ll grant you that the vowels match up, but what about the consonants?

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 7, 2021 at 2:57 PM

          • I don’t know how to explain it, I am just a biologist playing photographer. But, if you go to google translate and type in each word and make sure Google knows its Portuguese, not Spanish, you can hear how they sound, and see that they rhyme…

            Alessandra Chaves

            April 7, 2021 at 3:13 PM

            • Don’t sell yourself short as a photographer: you’re doing good things. Phonetically speaking (is there any other way to speak?), it’s quite interesting that you hear those words rhyming in your native language, whereas when I as a foreigner listened to the Google Translate pronunciations I still heard a difference. If you feel inclined to pursue it, I think the next step would be for you to ask other native speakers whether they also hear those two words rhyming, including not just the vowels but also the d and the g. I wonder if the criteria for what counts as a rhyme in Portuguese are different from what counts as a rhyme in English. Interesting.

              Steve Schwartzman

              April 7, 2021 at 3:44 PM

              • By the way, it’s casual little incidents like this that get linguists started on investigations into larger phenomena.

                Steve Schwartzman

                April 7, 2021 at 3:46 PM

              • Thanks. Well, I went investigate. This is what I found. There are different types of rhymes. This one should be classified as “imperfect”- the correspondence of sounds is only partial, in the vowels
                deus ajUda
                quem madrUga
                The “U” here has the same sound
                If you type in the entire sentence and listen to it, it becomes clearer. The robot voice speaks a little funny, we won’t say these words quite like that…
                To ask other native speakers will take some time. I don’t have any “around” 😉

                Alessandra Chaves

                April 7, 2021 at 4:49 PM

                • I think you’ve hit on it: there are different kinds of rhymes, from perfect, in which all the sounds match, down through various degrees of imperfect, in which only some of the sounds match.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 7, 2021 at 7:34 PM

  3. This is a long drive from your place to Austin, Steve. And you did not even know whether you would find that beautiful and abundant display of flowers at Floresville. One needs to be lucky every once in a while.

    Peter Klopp

    April 7, 2021 at 8:41 AM

    • I knew the place had been great two years earlier, and I’d seen reports of some good wildflower patches in that general area, so I figured we’d find something, even if the cemetery didn’t pan out. We ended up finding a bunch of good things on our trip. You’ve seen a few here already and probably will see at least a couple more.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 7, 2021 at 11:11 AM

  4. I love what Peter said about such a long drive not knowing if you’d find the display of flowers you sought. It’s a wonderful thing to venture out in faith, hopeful of what the day will bring. You were nicely rewarded for taking a leap of faith!

    Littlesundog

    April 7, 2021 at 9:11 AM

    • Here’s how I just answered Peter: “I knew the place had been great two years earlier, and I’d seen reports of some good wildflower patches in that general area, so I figured we’d find something, even if the cemetery didn’t pan out. We ended up finding a bunch of good things on our trip. You’ve seen a few here already and probably will see at least a couple more.” So in this case my faith was indeed borne out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 7, 2021 at 11:13 AM

  5. That’s a lot of flowers – wonderful!

    Ann Mackay

    April 7, 2021 at 9:41 AM

  6. So beautiful! I’m envious. 🙂

    Eliza Waters

    April 7, 2021 at 11:54 AM

  7. When I saw your title, it occurred to me that a lot of trips to a cemetery are one-way. Having wildflowers blanket the burial grounds and lands adjoining them is great, I wish they’d do that in the northern states, too.

    Robert Parker

    April 7, 2021 at 2:06 PM

    • It’s hardly a common practice down here, either. I’ve been lucky to find a few Texas cemeteries that let wildflowers grow and don’t mow them till after they’ve gone to seed. If I remember correctly, a woman in the Floresville city hall told us in 2019 that the person in charge of the city cemetery had resisted at least one call from someone at the peak of the season complaining about the wildflowers making the cemetery look unkempt and asking for it to get mowed. I suggested giving a medal to the manager who stood his ground. Most cemeteries here, though, like those almost everywhere in the country, keep their places bare and sterile.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 7, 2021 at 3:36 PM

  8. I remember being very impressed with your previous photos of Floresville Cemetery, Steve. I’m glad your return trip was not in vain and Floresville showed its floral bounty.

    tanjabrittonwriter

    April 13, 2021 at 11:12 AM

    • You’ve got a good memory to remember Floresville in particular from two years ago. After driving two hours to get there, we were grateful the place favored us with its bounty again, even if not in quite the same way.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 13, 2021 at 1:56 PM


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