Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Basket-flower seed head remains with clouds

with 19 comments

From August 13th on the Blackland Prairie along Pflugerville’s southern border
come these seed head remains of a basket-flower, Plectocephalus americanus.

◊         ◊

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of the world’s great crusaders for women’s rights, a cause that’s especially dear to her because she grew up in a culture that didn’t afford women many rights. I recommend her August 18th article about the human rights catastrophe in Afghanistan.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 27, 2021 at 4:25 AM

19 Responses

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  1. End of summer, countless opportunities for dead flowers and seed pod photography. I like the theme. Somehow this one reminded me of an old toothbrush head. I did read the article but the question on my mind remains, what’s the solution to the women’s rights in Afghanistan? Bush Jr. did use that argument when he wanted to go in there to fetch Bin Laden, but after 20 years of occupation they are still not able to get their stuff together. About 5 US presidents did not take a hold of the Taliban. Although I agree that pulling out was not orchestrated well, it’s unfair to blame the entire situation of women in Afghanistan henceforward on him. Who failed Afghan women is not America, it’s the Afghan men. I feel really sorry for their situation but I don’t know what the solution is.

    Alessandra Chaves

    August 27, 2021 at 7:32 AM

    • I think it would be hard to find anyone over here who disagrees with your final sentence about the situation over there. That country’s culture is ancient and has resisted letting women participate freely in public life. The surrounding countries seem only a little better.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 27, 2021 at 8:42 AM

  2. As much as I love every stage of the basket-flower, I think the seed heads might be my favorite. They can look a little scraggly, even in nice golden light like this, but their seeds are really fun to collect. This is an interesting background; the placement of the band of blue is just right, and the clouds complement it nicely. The quality of the sky makes me think this might be another flash photo.


    August 27, 2021 at 9:02 PM

    • You got it: another artificially dark sky thanks to flash. When it comes to basket-flowers, I’ve taken advantage of all its phases for 20 year now. Unfortunately the best sites for this species have gotten developed in the past two years, as you’ve heard me lament. This was on one fringe of a property now more and more under construction.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 27, 2021 at 10:57 PM

  3. Coming towards the end of 2 weeks in lockdown I feel the way this seedhead looks; ragged round the edges. There is, however, a difference between the appearance of the seedhead and myself. The seedhead is a ragged beauty. I am just a ragged wreck, perhaps the ‘Wreck of the Hesperus’, to quote an expression which was very common in my parents’ and grandparents’ time. Strangely, although the elders were all very familiar with Longfellow, none of them thought to tell me the origin of the Wreck of the Hesperus when I was a child.


    August 28, 2021 at 2:24 AM

    • “Ragged wreck” has alliteration going for it, but I’d say you have a lot more going for you than that description implies. Granted, that’s how you may feel after being cooped up for two weeks. New Zealand’s lockdowns have seemed overkill (interesting choice of a word, right?). The virus transmission rate outdoors, away from other people, has been documented to be essentially zero, and yet I seem to remember seeing video last year of police chasing solitary people off beaches in NZ.

      Here’s what Wikipedia says about Longfellow’s poem: “Longfellow combined fact and fiction to create this poem. His inspiration was the great blizzard of 1839, which ravaged the north-east coast of the United States for 12 hours starting January 6, 1839, destroying 20 ships with a loss of 40 lives. The poem appears to combine two events. Longfellow probably drew for the specifics on the destruction of the Favorite, a ship from Wiscasset, Maine, on the reef of Norman’s Woe off the coast of Gloucester, Massachusetts. All aboard were lost, one a woman, who reportedly floated to shore dead but still tied to the mast. The name used in the poem is that of another vessel, lost near Boston. The poem is so well known that the loop road leading close to Norman’s Woe from Route 127 is named Hesperus Ave.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2021 at 5:53 AM

      • Ha! Yes overkill is an interesting choice of word. For as long as I can remember NZ has gone above and beyond with quarantine and infectious disease control measures, especially at the border. The other evening, my siblings and I were remembering ( fondly) the days of the 1967 Foot and Mouth epidemic in the UK and Europe which led to extreme border quarantine precautions in Australia and NZ. Incoming passengers from Europe thought these requirements were overkill but they worked.


        August 28, 2021 at 7:29 AM

  4. And now to be more serious; my lockdown is as nothing compared to lockdown for the women of Afghanistan at the moment. I am not hopeful of an immediate good outcome for the women but, if peace and economic stability can prevail, things may change. I am curious to see what sort of influence Qatar may exert over the situation in Afghanistan. I read the Ali article. She is obviously passionate in her beliefs. I can’t really agree that the US is the rotting fish head of Western civilization.


    August 28, 2021 at 4:20 AM

    • In the commentaries I’ve been adding to my posts for the past half-year I’ve revealed myself to be in sympathy with Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s metaphor of the United States as a rotting fish head. The increasingly widespread putting forth here of assertions that blatantly contradict reality, and the insistence that everybody assent to those non-real things, is part of the decay. Take the fact that there are two and only two biological sexes (I’m not even talking about the nebulous concept of “gender”), and that only biological females can get pregnant and deliver babies. If you say those two things in public these days, there’s a mob ready to attack you and get you fired from your job. Powerful institutions here increasingly censor what people say. I could give dozens of examples. The United States today is much less free a place than it was when I was growing up, or even than it was just a decade ago.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2021 at 6:09 AM

      • Looking from my side of the world, and not having lived your experience as an insider, the US seems to be changing rather than rotting.


        August 28, 2021 at 8:12 AM

  5. There is an underappreciated beauty about aging related to almost every species living on earth. Good example here.

    Steve Gingold

    August 28, 2021 at 10:36 AM

  6. This is a favorite out of your recent shots. Just as I have written about personifying trees the same can be applied to portraits of flowers, as I am sure you are well aware. This one is a skinny, male, senior citizen that doesn’t bother to comb his hair any longer!


    August 28, 2021 at 11:59 AM

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