Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Portraits from our yard: episode 6

with 41 comments

From July 22nd comes this portrait of Pavonia lasiopetala, known as rock rose, rose pavonia, and pavonia mallow (as its prominent stamen column confirms membership in the mallow family). This is yet another portrait in which the use of flash caused the sky to come out darker than it actually was. I like that look, even if it’s not true to life, and I hope you find it attractive, too.

◊       ◊

You may have noticed that we’re in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic. With continuing vaccinations, rising percents of the population in the United States and other countries have gained effective protection from the coronavirus. That’s good news. At the same time, the delta variant of the virus, which seemingly spreads more easily than the original strain and apparently affects more young people than before, has been infecting increasingly many people around the world. Sydney, Australia, for example, has had to return to lockdowns. Some places in the United States are now seeing their cases approaching the peak numbers of last winter.

So what is the current American administration doing during this resurgence of the pandemic? It’s illegally letting people come across our southern border as fast as it can and either turning many of them loose in border towns or paying to send them by bus or plane farther into our country. The number of people the government is illegally letting in is so large—on the order of 40,000 every single week—and border officials are so overworked trying to deal with the massive influx, that there’s no way to test all the people for Covid-19. Of those that have been checked, some have indeed tested positive for the virus. Statistically speaking, that means authorities have to be illegally letting in some Covid-positive people and turning them loose inside our country. Nice going, federal government!

Aside from the insanity of illegally letting in a million people every six months during a rising pandemic, the illegal entrants who aren’t carrying Covid-19 still present a huge burden for the towns where the government is dumping them, often with no notification to local authorities. Two days ago in the Texas border town of Laredo, which is 95% Hispanic, “Mayor Pete Saenz signed [a] disaster declaration and refiled a request to stop the transportation of migrants from the [Rio Grande] Valley to their city in an ongoing lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security.” In another Texas border town, “the City Commission also instructed City staff to demand relief from the federal government for the alarming number of immigrants that are being released into the city of McAllen,” which is about 85% Hispanic. Nice going, federal government!

UPDATE: After this post “went to press,” I learned about two whistleblowers who “have accused members of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of directing them to minimize the size of a coronavirus outbreak among migrant children housed in detention facilities.” You’ll find more about that, including a link to the official complaint, in an article by Hank Berrien.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 6, 2021 at 4:38 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , ,

41 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Don’t you ask yourself if there is a method to their madness? Surely the problems this causes are clear, it can only be intentional. But why? The same happened here on a smaller scale in our ‘refugee crisis’ a few years ago. Our border controls just gave up and allowed them all to enter with no controls at all.


    August 6, 2021 at 6:25 AM

    • Yes, I’ve had the same thought as you, that all this is clearly intentional. It can’t have been going on this way for over half a year through ineptitude; it must be on purpose.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 6, 2021 at 6:42 AM

  2. I think the Greek alphabet is very long, and the problem with immigration through the southern border is not new, not simple, and not unique to this administration. I need to revise what I collectively call Hibiscus.

    Alessandra Chaves

    August 6, 2021 at 7:46 AM

    • That’s a clever way to put it: “the Greek alphabet is very long.” The farthest down the alphabet I’ve heard for variants of the virus so far is lambda.

      The problem with people coming across the southern border certainly isn’t new or simple, but the extent to which our government is violating immigration laws is new.

      As you’ve implied, hibiscus is just one kind of flower in the mallow family, Malvaceae (as in Portuguese malva).

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 6, 2021 at 8:26 AM

      • funny that “malvado/malvada means evil 😉

        Alessandra Chaves

        August 6, 2021 at 8:29 AM

        • It’s just a coincidence that malvado contains the unrelated malva. According to a Spanish etymological dictionary (it’s the same for Portuguese in this case), malvado probably comes from Old Provençal malvat, which would have developed from Vulgar Latin *malifatius, whose -fat- would correspond to Portuguese fado and English fate.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 6, 2021 at 8:59 AM

          • Thanks. So “Fado”, in Portuguese, the music style, means “fate.” I had no idea. I always thought it was a random word in the Portuguese Portuguese (from Portugal) 😉

            Alessandra Chaves

            August 6, 2021 at 9:02 AM

            • Yes, if you listen to traditional Portuguese fados you’ll notice that they’re often lugubrious and tell tales of loneliness and lost loves and other sad fates. Here’s an article about it:


              I learned from the article that “on 27 November 2011, fado was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.”

              Steve Schwartzman

              August 6, 2021 at 9:10 AM

              • I know. On my fathers side, they were Portuguese. My grandmother’s house was always filled with the sounds of Fado. I think that’s why she was a little depressive. Very dramatic lyrics.

                Alessandra Chaves

                August 6, 2021 at 10:11 AM

  3. I do like this image. The background is very pleasing and is a shade of blue which I find particularly attractive. You mention that because you used a flash the image is not true to life. It occurs to me that in real life we often manipulate a scene to show something in its best light or in the light which we would prefer ( not a profound thought or new idea!). With that in mind, let me throw a slightly different shade/light/angle/twist (whatever) on the information you provided in the second part of your post. The US border problems, as I have acknowledged, are immense and difficult. I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy even if I had one. The border issue exists with or without Covid problems. Similarly, NZ and Aust have border issues with or without Covid but we are fortunate, thanks to our geography, to be able to enforce strict border controls. At this time because of Covid our border controls are more extreme than ever. Australia is particularly extreme. To the best of my knowledge, Australians cannot even leave Australia without special permission. Why are our measures and lockdowns downunder so hard? Mainly because this is our best way to protect our citizens until we can get as many people as possible vaccinated. Our vaccination rates in Aust and NZ are low. Although our Govts ordered vaccines as soon as possible we are not awash in vaccines. New South Wales was literally begging for extra vaccine doses last week. In NZ, as one lot of vaccines starts to run out, we hold our collective breath that another consignment will arrive in time. So far so good for NZ. The vaccines have come in on schedule. But we have to line up in a Govt mandated schedule to receive our jabs. ( I am not eligible for my turn until August 24th). Similar scheduling happens in Australia. Why? Are our Govts control freaks? Some would argue yes! The why seems to me to be mostly about vaccine ‘inequity’. The rich and powerful got first dibs on vaccine procurement. (NZ and Australia got good dibs but not first dibs) The EU, the UK, Canada, Israel, USA, amongst others, secured, and received, sufficient vaccines to cover their populations and then some. The US has a relatively successful vaccination programme, as far as I know , and it is swimming in Covid vaccine. This means that the US is in the enviable position of being able to control the pandemic as long as people are willing to get vaccinated. Having illegal migrants with Covid busting through your border is far from ideal but the US does have the luxury,( or is it capacity ?), vaccine wise to deal with Covid wherever it arises in country, right now. In the absence of that capacity/luxury, Aust and NZ and many other countries have to resort to border controls and lockdowns (which are also small luxuries!). As usual I am not sure my comment is cogent or that it has shifted the light to another angle, but here is something which I think you will enjoy even though you may not be familiar with Australian politics https://youtu.be/IPNYx1FP8Qk Sammy J, the comedian, is referencing Australian poet, Banjo Paterson. ps I may be misinformed about the US ‘swimming’ in vaccine.


    August 6, 2021 at 10:39 PM

    • Wow, this is the longest comment you’ve ever written here. I appreciate your taking the time to fill me in on the situation downunder. I’d heard that even after half a year a poor country like India has been able to get only 10% of its population vaccinated. What I hadn’t heard is that wealthy countries like yours and Australia have been running short of vaccine and therefore have experienced low vaccination rates. I’m happy you’re on the schedule for August 24th. (Eve and I finished our two Pfizer shots by the end of March.) If I understand right, every adult here who wanted to get vaccinated has now done so, and that any unvaccinated adults who change their mind can get vaccinated without even having to make an appointment: just walk in to a place that offers a vaccine and get it on the spot. That brings up the question of why a significant number of Americans don’t want to get vaccinated. One couple we know is worried about a reaction because of existing bodily sensitivities. Two other couples we know have also refrained; the guy in one considers the vaccine a mix of toxic chemicals. Consider that our health authorities have not permanently approved the vaccine as safe and effective—not enough time has passed to gather long-term data—but have allowed the use of Covid vaccines only on an emergency basis. [Let me post this and continue in another comment.]

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 7, 2021 at 7:00 AM

    • Another group of people not wanting the vaccine consists of the millions who’ve already had and recovered from Covid-19 and who therefore have developed a natural immunity which is believed to be at least as strong as what the vaccines provide. As far as I know, no health authority here has offered an explanation of why those naturally immune people should have to be vaccinated, and yet that’s the official government position. For authorities to take a stance that seems to fly in the face of “The Science” without offering any rationale to support that position has understandably made many people skeptical about what’s going on.

      For the reasons I’ve mentioned, many Americans still don’t want to get any of the existing Covid vaccines, so I assume the United States currently has a surplus and could send some to places like New South Wales that are crying out for it, or to virtually any poor country. On the other hand, our federal, state, and local governments still keep urging unvaccinated Americans to get vaccinated, so those authorities probably wouldn’t want to send their unused supplies elsewhere. There’s also talk that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines may require a third shot as a booster to maintain effectiveness, so that would be another reason to hold on to existing surpluses.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 7, 2021 at 7:26 AM

    • By the way, your “I may be misinformed” applies to all of us. It’s hard to know how much to trust the statements we hear people making and the figures being bandied about. Aside from the inherent difficulty of getting accurate data in a large and constantly changing situation, there are the distortions promulgated by people pushing an agenda.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 7, 2021 at 7:55 AM

    • Yet another angle is the percent of people in various racial/ethnic groups that have gotten vaccinated. If you scroll down to Figure 3 at


      you’ll see that the group with the highest percent of vaccinations in the United States has been Asians. Next come whites, then Hispanics, then blacks. I assume that because vaccines are readily available for free, the figures correspond to a willingness or desire to get vaccinated. People on the political left have been claiming that people on the political right are resisting the vaccine. Anecdotal evidence makes me think that’s at least partly true, but there’s counter-evidence in the fact that blacks, who vote overwhelmingly Democratic, are the ethnic group with the highest non-vaccination rate, and that Hispanics, who also vote heavily Democratic (67% Democrats, 20% Republicans, according to one source) have the next highest non-vaccination rate.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 7, 2021 at 8:26 AM

    • We’ve learned that one of Eve’s cousins, age 78, died of Covid in the Philippines the other day. The hospitals were full so there was no way to get him treated.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 7, 2021 at 4:36 PM

      • I am sorry to hear this. It’s an awful situation to be in.


        August 7, 2021 at 8:13 PM

        • Yes, it is. Eve said that 23 people in her town have died of Covid so far. Making the situation worse is the Filipino propensity for superstitions. Eve says there are Filipinos who refuse vaccination because they believe it will turn them into zombies. Of course that kind of belief isn’t limited to the Philippines. A rumor that has spread to various places says that the Covid vaccine will make people sterile:


          Steve Schwartzman

          August 7, 2021 at 8:46 PM

          • 😦 These beliefs are definitely not limited to the Philippines. As our ex PM, Helen Clark, said recently on Australian television, we have an infodemic as well as a pandemic.


            August 7, 2021 at 8:50 PM

  4. With your interest in numbers, you may be like to study this information. I can’t vouch for its authenticity or accuracy but it seems okay to me. https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/covid-vaccine-tracker-global-distribution/


    August 7, 2021 at 12:58 AM

    • I noticed in “The Path to Immunity Around the World” that “globally, the latest vaccination rate is 42,673,902 doses per day, on average. At this pace, it will take another 6 months to cover 75% of the population.” An additional six months is a long time, and it’s not clear what effect the delta variant or yet-to-emerge variants will have on the situation. In recent weeks the delta variant has caused an upsurge in cases in the United States.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 7, 2021 at 7:32 AM

  5. Whie I rarely use my flash for flowers I do for insects here in the yard and the background is also unnaturally dark. But that sets the insect off well and, like you, I do enjoy the effect of that.

    Steve Gingold

    August 7, 2021 at 3:00 AM

    • One interesting thing in this picture is that because the morning was bright and sunny, the shadows cast by the sun were deep enough not to be fully canceled by the upward-pointing flash. Those lighter-than-they-really-were shadows are noticeable below the flower’s central column and on the leaf below the flower.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 7, 2021 at 7:39 AM

  6. I especially like the way you’ve paired the largest leaf with the bloom. Beyond that, the similarity of the buds to those of other species in the mallow family is clear; I like mallow buds generally, partly because of those fancy sepals. What’s odd is that, impossible as it is for me to name a favorite flower, there’s no question that this is my least favorite. Why? I don’t know. There’s just something about it I don’t find appealing; I react to it as though it’s the botanical equivalent of Brussels sprouts.


    August 8, 2021 at 7:57 AM

    • The pairing of that large leaf with the flower worked well. I have to add that in this case it wasn’t an esthetic choice; the leaf was there, and the only way I could get a frontal view of this flower was to include the leaf. (Okay, I guess I could’ve cropped to right below the flower; I tried that just now and found it didn’t look as good to me.) As for Brussels sprouts and its relative, broccoli, which the first President Bush apparently hated, I have to say I am a fan of those cruciferous veggies. As the Romans properly held: De gustibus non est disputandum, there’s no arguing about tastes. You’re entitled not to like pavonia mallow flowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 8, 2021 at 10:03 AM

      • As I recall, you claim the same entitlement when it comes to cilantro.


        August 8, 2021 at 10:05 AM

        • Good memory. Yes. A few days ago we did take-out from an Indian restaurant. I asked the guy who took our order to check with the cook and make sure there wouldn’t be cilantro in any of the dishes we ordered, and yet when we got home we found that one did have plenty of cilantro in it.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 8, 2021 at 10:46 AM

  7. Wonderful image Steve … I didn’t realise that the hibiscus was in the mallow family. And I have to start using my flash!


    August 10, 2021 at 2:24 PM

  8. […] United States, have worked strenuously to thwart the immigration laws Congress has put in place. Back on August 6th I reported that our government was letting some 40,000 people per week come across the southwestern […]

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: