Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

White on white

with 17 comments

Speaking of Liberty Hill on May 6th—as I did in yesterday’s post—here’s a stark double portrait I made of white milkwort, Polygala alba, in front of a blackfoot (but white-flowered) daisy, Melampodium leucanthum.

And speaking of Liberty Hill today, I’ll add that a country isn’t worth a hill of beans if its citizens don’t have the liberty to say what they think without having it suppressed. And it doesn’t matter who’s doing the suppressing: the government, heads of corporations, people in sports, the news media, students on campuses, gangs in street mobs, ideological fanatics in online mobs—suppression is still suppression.

On a lighter note about liberty, I’ll add that the Latin word for ‘children’ was līberī, literally ‘the free ones.’

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 2, 2021 at 4:37 AM

17 Responses

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  1. I like this understated portrait. Is the “Blackfoot Daisy” named for the tribe, or are the roots literally black?

    Robert Parker

    June 2, 2021 at 7:05 AM

    • This species grows no farther north than central Colorado, which seems to put it outside the range of the Blackfoot tribe. In any case, I’ve read that the name does come from the plant’s dark roots. I’ve never pulled one up to confirm that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 2, 2021 at 7:46 AM

  2. I really love this portrait. Wildflowers are much more “the free ones” in these times.


    June 2, 2021 at 8:05 AM

  3. Beautiful image.

    Along with the right to say whatever you want comes the necessity to improve one’s ability to comfortably listen to, think about, and intelligently and calmly discuss ideas that one does not oneself hold. This is especially difficult when someone points to what is obviously and spectroscopically verifiable as a blue sky and pronounces from some bully pulpit that it’s brown or pink or orange or yellow or green and people believe him despite the obvious and verifiable blueness of the sky.

    Michael Scandling

    June 2, 2021 at 11:34 AM

    • Welcome to the new objectivity, which is to say no objectivity. A part of the country has gone mad. Linguistics professor John McWhorter has taken the stance that it’s no more possible to discuss with those people the truth or falsity of their beliefs than it is to discuss with people the truth or falsity of their religious beliefs. In fact McWhorter says flat-out that wokeism is a religion.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 2, 2021 at 12:54 PM

  4. Wonderful photo, Steve — so elegant and pleasing.

    Jet Eliot

    June 2, 2021 at 1:47 PM

  5. I read above about the name coming from the roots. That puts it in the company of our Bloodroot which I have shared on my blog.

    Along with freedom of speech comes the responsibility to understand the ramifications. Also the willingness to accept the response. I recently read an interview with someone who felt that black people are inferior and should not have the right to vote. It is his freedom to believe that and to express that but along with that comes the reaction of people who feel that it is an outrageous concept and it is understandable for there to be a very negative response. Nazis have the right to express hatred of Jews but that hatred is not based on anything factual. just as the inferiority of one race is not, and therefore is not welcome in decent society nor should it be accepted or condoned.

    Steve Gingold

    June 3, 2021 at 3:04 AM

    • There’ll always be people with crazy beliefs. Some of those people are actually crazy, like the ones who sincerely believe that aliens from other worlds have implanted devices inside their brains to control them. Deciding when such beliefs become dangerous enough that something needs to be done (for example putting someone in a mental institution) isn’t always easy. As you say, if a crazy person threatens you, you’re going to react.

      Speaking of being institutionalized, I’m troubled that so many of our institutions are refusing to let people express reasonable opinions. A good example came to light this past week. Since last year Facebook had been refusing to let users even post evidence to support the idea that Covid-19 might have originated in a biological research lab in Wuhan. Supporters of Facebook’s ban claimed that the notion had been “debunked,” when in fact it had not been. To this day investigators don’t have conclusive evidence of the pandemic’s origins. Incident’s like Facebook’s unreasoning ban have made me cynical enough that if people pushing an agenda say X has been debunked but don’t bring forth the evidence, I assume X has not been debunked and may well be true.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 3, 2021 at 3:40 AM

      • Well, you know what they say about opinions and assholes. Everyone has one. I was not aware of FB’s ban on Wuhan talk but FB is something that should not be looked to for logical discourse, hence my opening statement. The internet has been a boon in many ways but it, especially in the case of FB, has been the opportunity for every idiot and insane person to spout their idiocy and for others to say “Hey, that makes sense”. It also allows for a lot of foolish arguing and the trading of insults. We just experienced four years with a “leader” who basically told his followers that facts don’t matter. Unfortunately that has led too many to doubt most anything they read, on FB or elsewhere, and to espouse their beliefs as facts such as the guy in the interview I mentioned earlier. Our democratic form of government is now being challenged by people who listen to that person and are trying to “prove” his misinformation as truth. Again, freedom of speech comes with responsibility and many in our society don’t take that seriously.

        Steve Gingold

        June 3, 2021 at 3:57 AM

        • You’re sure right that social media aren’t places to look to for logical discourse. I use Facebook for only two things: to post some personal pictures and to find places that are currently good for wildflowers (thanks to the groups Texas Wildflowers and Texas Flora).

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 3, 2021 at 4:22 AM

          • I should add that Eve uses Facebook to keep in touch with her family and friends in the Philippines and some other countries.

            Steve Schwartzman

            June 3, 2021 at 4:24 AM

            • Facebook is good for that and I think that was its original intention. It has been “monetized” into something entirely different. In my case, aside from sharing images, I have been in touch with a few cousins whom I had not had contact in decades. A few high school friends as well. I originally did post an occasional political opinion but soon recognized it was a worthless and futile endeavor.

              Steve Gingold

              June 3, 2021 at 4:30 AM

              • And for nine years I kept to nature and photography in this blog. In the past year, however, the country has gotten so authoritarian and therefore so dangerous to freedom that I felt I had to start speaking out. I don’t want to be like those people in the 20th century about whom we ask: why didn’t they speak up against what was happening in their country?

                Steve Schwartzman

                June 3, 2021 at 4:42 AM

  6. What an interesting pairing. I once found the milkwort on the Willow City loop, and I first saw the Blackfoot daisy at a low water crossing near Medina; it’s fun to see them together. I like the shades of brown trimming both; it adds interest, and softens that starkness a bit.

    I didn’t know that līberī meant ‘the free ones.’” Several conversations in past months have revolved around the freedoms my friends and I had as kids, and the terrible ways that today’s children are being denied those freedoms. Of all the memories that linger from the past year, one of my favorites is suddenly hearing the shrieks of children back on the playground of our neighborhood grade school: running free.

    I presume you’ve heard the story of what’s happening at the University of Oregon. When I read the story, I remembered a favorite bit of wisdom from C.S. Lewis:

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”


    June 3, 2021 at 7:45 PM

    • The brown on the blackfoot daisy is a sign it’s past its prime. Still, as you said, it provides pictorial interest.

      The Coddling of the American Mind talks about the way many American parents in recent decades have been over-protective of their children. The authors say that it’s children who entered college in around 2015 who often claim they don’t feel safe and who clamor for safe spaces and trigger warnings. Eve sometimes reminisces about how in the years when she was a child in the Philippines parents would turn their kids loose to wander, with the only stipulation being that they came back home before dark.

      I think I did hear about the Oregon case. The page you linked to belongs to FIRE, for which Greg Lukianoff, co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind, works.

      That’s a good quotation from C.S. Lewis. It describes people who I think H.L. Mencken referred to as do-gooders.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 3, 2021 at 10:38 PM

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